Replacing boot SSD in 2011 MBP... what's the best way?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by terzinator, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. terzinator macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011
    I have the stock 128GB SSD in my 2011 15" MBP, and also have a 750GB HDD in the optibay, which I installed right after I got the machine.

    Everything works great, but I need more space on the SSD (Boot, apps, Win7 via VMWare Fusion), so I'm going to get a 256GB SSD.

    I'm trying to figure out the fastest, cleanest way to make the new drive exactly the same as the old. I've searched, but I'm not coming up with what I'm looking for.

    I do regular backups using SuperDuper to an external drive (to a sparsebundle).

    I don't use Time Machine, but I certainly could. One idea is to back up the 128GB SSD to the optibay 750GB using Time Machine (I have plenty of space on the 750GB drive...).

    Then can I just install the new SSD, and restore it from that time machine backup? What is it booting from if the new drive is blank?

    Or do I boot to my SuperDuper backup so I have an actual boot drive, then restore the new SSD using the time machine backup?

    It was easy to format the 750GB drive because it was just the secondary drive. But I've never replaced the boot drive. I mean, how can I use disk utility if the boot drive is unformatted?! (Slap me if this is a stupid question.)

    I suppose I could remove the 750GB drive from the optibay and reinstall the optical drive so I can use a CD/DVD to do a fresh install of the OS. But that seems like a hassle. I want the new drive to be just like the existing drive, but with more space.

    Or, really, is the best way to reinstall the OS (I'm running SnowLeopard now), maybe go with Lion, and then copy over the apps and things individually? I know all about migrating stuff to a new mac, but never when that "new mac" is an unformatted drive on the same machine!

    Thanks in advance for your ideas!
  2. dakhein macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2011
    NorCal, USA
    This problem definitely makes you think twice.

    1. Make a bootable Mac flash drive or external disk, boot to it, DU image your old SSD onto HDD, replace old with new, boot to flash or external and DU restore image onto new drive. No internal hardware swaps but you need a sufficiently large flash drive or external that you can wipe (not your Time Machine backup!)

    2. Install Mac OS on HDD, boot to HDD, user SuperDuper or DU to image your SSD, remove old SSD, install new one, DU format drive and restore image to new SSD. Bad thing is you just wasted GB of space on your HDD to install another Mac OS. Good thing is you now have two bootable Mac disks so if your SSD goes down, your HDD will still boot and you didn't have to remove any hardware.

    3. Remove HDD, reinstall optical, boot optical, DU image SSD to external disk, replace old SSD with new, boot optical restore image onto new SSD, replace optical with HDD. Advantage is you have overall more space than #2 but you had to do a lot of hardware swaps.

    There are probably more ways like Target Disk mode, etc... but this requires another computer, etc... good luck:)
  3. terzinator thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011

    This one seems the most straightforward to me... but a couple of questions:

    So after I image the SSD to the HDD, I boot to the image on the HDD, correct? (boot holding down option key, and then choose that drive?)

    Can I image the new SSD from an image I'm presently booted to?
  4. azxr macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2011
    I just did this about 3 weeks ago. I went from a 128GB Crucial M4 to 256GB Crucial M4.

    I put the new 256GB in an external enclosure and made sure it was partitioned and formatted the way I wanted.

    I used Superduper to clone my 128GB to the 256GB.

    Swapped the 256GB in place of the 128GB.

    Booted up just fine. I had a few weird issues that I don't remember exactly what they were (nothing major). I just did an SMC and PRAM reset and the issues went away; not really sure what they did. Everything has been fine since.

    If you do have any issues, you can always put your 128GB back in and either try again or try something else.
  5. dakhein macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2011
    NorCal, USA
    In order to image the old SSD to HDD, you have to have already booted to the HDD in this example. You then shut down. Replace the old SSD with the new. Boot with the option key and select your HDD. Then use DU or SuperDuper to restore the old SSD's image onto the new SSD (after partition/formatting it).

    You cannot create an image of a partition you are currently booted to (at least in DU). In order words, if you boot to your installation of Mac OS on your SSD, you cannot make an image of itself. I think you get a disk locked error message. You boot to Mac OS installed on the HDD and then you can make a backup image of the SSD in DU.
  6. terzinator thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011
    Just had another idea...

    I could temporarily pull the 750GB HDD out of the optibay and put the new SSD in. Boot up using the old drive and then clone the old SSD right to the new drive.

    Pull out the old drive, pull the new SSD out of the optibay, put the new SSD in the regular drive location, put the 750GB drive back into the optibay and I'm done.

    I think.

    (Was thinking it might be lots of rigamaroll, but I wouldn't need to screw/unscrew the laptop base each time...)

  7. terzinator thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011
    OK, now that I see the post from azxr, my optibay plan looks like it would work if I use superduper.
  8. azxr macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2011
    I should add that before I put the new 256GB in, I did boot off of it to make sure it worked before doing the swap.
  9. SayMilesAway macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2011
    Another member in the SSD thread said that after doing a clone you do not get the recovery partition. I just cloned my SSD from my factory HDD and everything is working fine. But it seems according to him you don't have the recovery partition so I could never do a clean install holding down the "r" key during boot?
  10. terzinator thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011
    update, just for the helluvit...

    Got the OWC Electra 6G 240GB + USB enclosure...

    I was wringing my hands over how to do the data swap and all that, but it wound up being about the easiest thing ever.

    I put the new drive in the USB enclosure, and then used Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my original 120GB SSD to the new one. Piece-o-cake.

    Then I booted for a few days off the new drive in the enclosure.

    After all seemed hunky dory, I put the new drive in the MBP. Took about 5 minutes.

    Works great. Isn't noticeably faster or slower (it's plenty fast), but I've got twice the storage.
  11. Ccrew macrumors 68020

    Feb 28, 2011
    Lion machine?
    I thought only Carbon Copy was able to clone the recovery partition at this time. If you can't do that then you can't administer/use Find My Mac and you can't enable Filevault without that partition.
  12. JTravers macrumors 6502a

    Jun 28, 2010
    Thanks for detailing just how easy it really is. I'm sure this will be of benefit to others.

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