Installing SSD on Mac Mini: best and cleanest method of transfer OS and data?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ejosepha, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. ejosepha, Nov 4, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011

    ejosepha macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2009
    I have the dual core I7 and will be swapping the HD with an owc SSD in the coming days. I have downloaded the Lion recovery tool on an external USB drive. The system on the computer now is quite stable and backed up on a Time Machine.
    My choices are to either put the ssd into a usb external enclosure, format and Carbon Copy Clone the HD in the Mini to the new ssd or install the ssd blank into the mini, use the recovery tool to format and then load Lion over the internet to the blank drive and then transfer everything from the Time Machine backup over to the newly installed SSD.
    In any case I just want all my mail, settings, networks, data, etc. to install on the new drive as they exist on the HD now. It's only around 50GB total.
    Is there an advantage to one method or another? Or are they equally efficient?
  2. deafgoose macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2011
    The best way is to do a full time machine backup and then do a migration from that backup.
  3. ejosepha thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2009
    So you are saying format the drive, to the Lion recovery and download fresh Lion from apple, then transfer from last Time Machine backup of original HD.
    Is there a reason this method is superior to Carbon Copy Clone?
  4. deafgoose macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2011
    Yep. That's just the way I do it.

    I have never used carbon copy clone so that may be a better way.
  5. arkon macrumors member

    Aug 17, 2010
    I installed four SSD for me and my friends in Macbooks. Always used Carbon Copy Clone and a USB Adapter for the Harddisk. Always worked fine. Afterwards I enabled Trimm with Trimm Enabler or terminal commands(Newer Macs works better with the terminal commands).

    Every Macbook is working fine till today. Did the first one 1,5 years ago.

    Its quick and easy and works just fine.
  6. jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    Is Lion already installed? Or you just have the recovery partition?

    If you already have Lion installed and you have the recovery partition, it is a piece of cake. There is a lot of FUD about this, and I went through a lot of nonsense before figuring out the easy way.

    Just put your old drive in an external USB enclosure and your new drive in the Mini. Boot from the external USB recovery partition, and use the Recover function. It will copy both the sysem partition and recovery partition to your new drive.

    It really is that simple. I'm not sure why there are so many people giving complicated advice about this.

    It is a bit confusing because the recovery partition is hidden. If you unhide it and copy it first, then recover, you will have TWO recovery partitions.

    Apple is trying to make it easy with this new recovery partition. And is IS simple. You just have to LET it be simple...
  7. ejosepha thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2009
    I am currently working with Lion on the HD that came with the unit. When I went to the apple support site they say that you first create a LION recovery tool on an external flash or usb drive, which I did, then put in the new blank drive in the mini, start up computer with C key, then format new blank drive and start process of downloading LION on the net. (Which I will do when the ssd arrives.)At least that's what it says on they Lion recovery tool instructions for starting with a blank drive. I just thought if all things are equal, I could use CCC first.
    This system worked the first time but the owc ssd went dead after 15 minutes, so I am waiting for a replacement.


    This does sound simple. Does Apple recommend this process anywhere on their support pages?
  8. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    I have done this several times and it is indeed that simple. In the past with the 2010 Mac mini and Snow Leopard you had to boot of the install DVD and then select recover. Now you make a backup with Time Machine to external HDD. Then put in the new HDD/SSD and you boot - when hearing the chime you press the Alt/Option key and you'll see after a while the Time Machine (in aqua green). You boot of that and then select recover and on next screen select where you want it to recover to. Select the new drive and let it do its job. It will automatically reboot when finished and you'll have everything back.
  9. ejosepha thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2009
    Thank you for the input, but why does Apple suggest that you use the external usb lion recovery tool to both format and then download a virgin copy of the Lion system from their apps store, and then after download is complete use the Time Machine backup to migrate my data over to the new ssd.
    Is there something wrong with this method or does the above method that you recommend do the same thing but simpler by avoiding downloading the OS Lion system to the blank ssd and simply recover off the Time Machine backup of the original system?
  10. ejosepha thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2009
    If I understand correctly, rather than re-install an entire OS of Lion, I can boot from the recovery Lion assistant, format the ssd and then instead of downloading a new OS of Lion from the apps store, just simply attach the Time Machine backup recently made and choose it to recover and copy over to the blank formatted ssd just installed in the mini?
  11. etsi macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2011
    If you install an empty HD without any partitions or data, hitting command - R on startup will download the OS from internet? The recovery program is build in function of the mac mini, not a program in a hidden partition?
  12. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    That is correct. The Lion Time Machine has a recovery option in it so no need to boot anything else. You'll get some options: re-install Lion, recover, diskutil and a fourth, never paid any attention exactly.

    I suspect that by reinstalling you will get the recovery partition installed and not when you do the Time Machine restore. Plus I suspect it helps Apple's data mining knowing how often people are restoring and do other stuff. I am happy enough just to use the Time Machine, no problems installing windows in bootcamp (should I elect to do this) because of too many partitions.
  13. ejosepha thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2009
    Is it OK to just do the Lion assistant recovery, download the OS Lion from Apple, then attach the Time Machine Lion backup and do the migration? I am reading all of the above comments but there seems to be some contradiction. I would like to end up with the system and data currently on the Mini, including the original recovery HD if possible.
    The fastest, easiest and cleanest way to do this without hiccups, and end up with the system I'm currently working with is what I would like. If downloading from Apple the OS first will net me the complete Recovery HD as well, then I think that would be best, given that I could have a problem in the future and not have an external Recovery Assistant drive along with me.
  14. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    Doing it in the way you propose you'll bring it back to the state it was in when you got it out of the shop.

    You will then have to customize everything all over again to get it running in the way you had it running.
  15. ejosepha thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2009
    But once I install the OS again I would simply migrate the original Time Machine backup of the current drive. I think this would bring me to where I am today, but on the new drive. Unless I have misunderstood something. Otherwise, I will put the current drive in an external enclosure, start the recovery from this external drive and recover back to the new blank drive, as stated above. (Not sure it is possible to start a full recovery from the Time Machine backup.
    Below are OWCs two choices:

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