Best way to upgrade Hard Drive in 2011 Mini.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ranny2, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. ranny2 macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2011
    I am soon to be purchasing the 2.3GHz Mini as my primary machine, and one of the first upgrades I will want to do is install an SSD when I can afford one!
    I understand the actual physical upgrade part, as I have seen many videos on YouTube regarding it, however still am confused about Lion, lack of disk drive and how to reinstall Lion and transfer the data from my old 500GB HDD.
    I am still quite new to computers and this is my first Mac, so keep it simple please!
    Thanks very much for your help.
  2. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2010
    I would remove the stock drive before turning the NAS on and keep it in a safe place. If you ever need to sell the NAS you can put the stock drive back in.

    After removing the stock drive, I would suggest you put your SSD in. Then boot the NAS with a wired usb keyboard connected holding down Command+R (command key has an apple on it) on boot. This will put your NAS into Internet Recovery mode allowing you to download and install Mac OS X Lion onto your SSD.

    If you had another Mac or a friend with a Mac you could borrow then there would be some additional steps I'd recommend.
  3. Ieo macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2009

    Where did the OP mention anything about NAS?
  4. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    The easiest way would be to buy a USB external enclosure at the same time as your SSD. They're cheap- probably can find them for $20 or so, and actually pretty useful to have around. Then, just connect your SSD via the external enclosure and clone the HDD to it. Swap the drives physically, and you're done! One last step on the 2011 mini might be to boot up the computer in Internet Recovery mode (command-R at chime) to let the mac re-download the hidden recovery partition from Apple since it won't copy over in the clone.

  5. HazyCloud, Sep 7, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011

    HazyCloud macrumors 68030


    Jun 30, 2010
    To add to this, Carbon Copy Cloner is a great tool to use for cloning a hard drive. It's also free.

    Here's the link to it.

  6. jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    Why can't CCC copy the recovery partition as well?
  7. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Jun 16, 2009
    I was just about to create a topic in regards to this since I have looked at tutorials. I would really like to install an SSD myself without having to send it out.

    Can I just remove the Wi-Fi antenna grate, carefully remove the HDD, and replace it with the SSD without having to mess with the logic board or remove the memory?

    Also, do I have to put on the plastic covering on the SSD?
  8. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    It can clear the ram on a 2011 mac mini.
  9. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

    Aug 24, 2011
    Yes, you can install a hard drive in the upper location without removing the main board. Aligning the screws within the grommet mounts is challenging with main board, fan, etc all in place. In fact, I place the SSD in the top position because if it needs removal for servicing this location is still faster than a full tear down.
  10. MJL, Oct 30, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011

    MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    True, I've done it.

    Agreed. However if you have some spare HDD mounting screws you can make a few small brackets long enough to stick outand allow you to tilt / move the HDD / SDD around. Use the mounting holes that normally the screws that go through the grill (into the HDD/SSD) and after in place remove these brackets. Or just see if you can find some 2" long screws and just plonk those in temporary.

    Just watch the wires from the powersupply that they do not get in the way.

    Not the best spot if you leave the position close to the antenna grill empty since the drive will then be floating loose at the end where the screws through the grill normally go. Not too sure about the cable length either if it will really go all that way - I would be worrying about putting too much stress on the connector on the logic board if you are doing it that way.

    One advantage of the 2011 model is that once you've got the HDD out then you can use that gap to carefully push the logic board a bit out without having to use two screwdrivers or the special overpriced Apple logic board removal tool to do this. Just watch the screws that fasten the logic board and make sure all the connectors are unplugged. It is best to leave the board in place without disconnecting anything besides the SATA HDD cable (it can be done with carefully moving fan to the side - I've done this but it is a real tight manouvering).

    Always make a backup using Time Machine on an external medium. (USB key / HDD etc). Once putting the SSD in place then boot up (with the backup media hooked up), hold down Alt / Option key and select the aquagreen Time Machine icon . Follow the prompts. That is all that is required to do a restore.
  11. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Jun 16, 2009
    You mean I can take it out somewhat easily without much trouble, right? Just checking.
  12. rokey macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2011
    for what it's worth, if you follow the instructions that the pros provide, the whole process should be a breeze for nearly anyone... with a little patience. I suggest that most people simply install the SSD into the second bay using the ifixit kit (or DIY kit if you're that kinda person). this way you have the SSD for boot and apps which benefit greatly from the increased speed, and the storage capacity for your individual docs, media, etc...
  13. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Jun 16, 2009
    I would only be using one internal drive (an SSD) and my HDD would be an external drive as opposed to two drive in one Mini.

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