No matter how much you take care of your good buddy the MacBook, something is bound to break as the years go by. For me, it’s many things: a bad optical drive, dead USB ports, a loose screen and a malfunctioning trackpad. It may sound bad, but those were easy to work around. My failing hard drive, however, is not.
Thing is, I can’t blame the damned thing; it’d been through a lot even before I started my freelance career. At the same time, I can’t give my partner a pass this time. It’s impossible to ignore the screeching, clicking, anguished cries of a hard drive about to die.
Thankfully, the threat is no more.
Despite my inability to connect an external drive due to dead USB ports, and my inability to install OS X via disk due to a bad optical drive, I found a simple way to at least fix the hard drive problem on my broke ass MacBook Pro. If you’re in the same boat, hopefully I can help you, too.
Hard Drive Replacement Shopping List
- Compatible hard drive – I used a Seagate 500GB BarraCuda SATA 6Gb/s 2.5-Inch Internal Hard Drive
- 2nd SATA hard drive caddy – I chose the ZXUY Hard Drive SATA 2nd HDD Caddy Tray for Unibody 9.5mm Laptop CD/DVD-ROM Drive Slot, which also comes with a small screw driver for installation.
- TR6 Torx screwdriver
Shut down your laptop and disconnect the power cord. Flip it over and unscrew the case. Be sure to place your screws somewhere safe.
Disconnect the battery, using these instructions from iFixit.
Remove your optical drive (directions can be found here). You’ll notice mine is already missing because, of course, it broke a couple of years ago.
Remove your old hard drive by unscrewing the four screws holding it in place. This also involves removing the black plastic bar on its left side.
Disconnect your old hard drive.
Remove the screws from the sides of your old hard drive and screw them into the sides of your new hard drive.
Insert your old hard drive into the new second hard drive caddy, and screw in the side screws.
The connections that run over and around your optical drive should still be loose from step 1. Carefully move them out of the way just enough to insert your hard drive caddy beneath them.
Turn your hard drive caddy face down and connect it to the old optical drive’s connector. Then place it and secure the connections.
Connect your new hard drive and screw it in.
Reattach the back cover.
Boot up your laptop. It will boot to your old hard drive by default.
Open up disk utility. Select your new hard drive, then click “Erase.” You will see the following pop-up:
Pick a name for your new hard drive. There’s no need to change the format or scheme. Then, click “Erase.”
Shut down your computer, then restart while holding Command + Option + R. This will start OS X recovery utilities, from which you’ll select “Reinstall OS X.”
Choose your new hard drive for as the destination disk and follow the on-screen instructions.
On restart, set up your laptop as usual. (My computer restarted and booted to the new installation. If yours does not, on restart hold Option and select the new disk.)
When everything is up and good to go, make sure your system is set to use the new hard drive as the startup disk.
Open the settings panel and click “Startup Disk.”
Unlock to make changes, then select the new drive.
Transfer needed files. If you need to move files from your old hard drive, it will appear as a drive in the side bar of the Finder window. You can then explore the files on the drive and find what you need. It’s as easy as drag and drop!
From this point forward, you can choose what to do with your old drive. If you did this to install a second drive, then feel free to erase the old one and use it to store files or as a time machine backup. If your hard drive was failing like mine, you can always replace it with a new one or just leave it until you decide. I was lazy, so guess which I picked.
All in all, the process was not hard. Although I thought it would be a pain, especially since I have so many problems with my laptop, it wasn’t even time-consuming. Hell, I didn’t even have a Torx screwdriver, and improvising with pliers was only slightly more difficult. There was no frustrated hair pulling, no throwing things, and I did not break anything on my laptop during the process. It was actually–dare I say it–kind of fun!
So here’s a lesson for the day: Even when everything seems stacked against you, use your thinker, consider a new idea and dive right in! You’ll be amazed at what you can do when you finally try.