At some point you will find that your computer is just not up to par anymore. Error messages vaguely alluding to a lack of space or blank screens without any kind of solution being offered. Or maybe you’re just running out of room from copying photos of all the crazy road trips you’ve been taking. Whatever the reason, you need your computer to work. No one living a colorful life in modern society can function without a computer.
Although this “quasi-how-to” post is directed towards MacBook Pro owners, it can be applied to pretty much any computer. Most companies want you to get frustrated to the point of buying a new computer. It’s business…no need to get offended. However, there ‘s an alternative…education. If you know what’s happening, you can spend money on the components instead.
Below, I discuss the most common causes for your laptop to slow down, however I would get a professional opinion if you’re really unsure or uneasy about the information I’m sharing. I’ve performed this upgrade two or three times and it works like a charm so hopefully some of you find it useful.
Your computer’s RAM (Random Access Memory) is what is used by running programs and processes while the computer is on. It helps with speeding up the loading process for various tasks. The more intensive the programs, the more RAM you need. Here are some programs where it helps to have more:
- Any of the Adobe Creative Suite programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, etc)
- Final Cut Pro
- Microsoft products have also been know to be selfish with RAM
Usually laptops come with 2GB – 4GB of RAM and are upgradeable to 8GB. Most of the time when a computer is running slow, this the culprit (assuming the processor is decent ~2.1GHz or better. Always exceptions though.
Your MacBook’s internal hard drive is what houses all of your files, system settings, user accounts, etc.
This is also what your operating system is running from. Sometimes when the space gets low, it can slow down the computer because there’s not enough space to store data behind the scenes. However, if you have less than 10GB of space, you may want to consider making at least an upgrade in hard drive.
Even if you do have space, if you want faster boot times and opening of applications, you can upgrade to an SSD which stands for Solid State Drive.
Important Things to Note
- You will void any warranties if you take it anywhere else but to Apple or an Apple Certified repair shop; or if you do it yourself
- General knowledge of computers and comfortable with tools will help
Tools & Hardware
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- Apple MacBook Repair Screwdriver set
- I recommend the Samsung 840 Series SSD (250GB | 500GB | 1TB)
- RAM – Visit http://www.crucial.com/ to find out which RAM modules are compatible with your MacBook.
- If your hard drive doesn’t come with a cable, you will need to get an eSATA/mSATA cable to connect an internal hard drive to a USB port on your MacBook – Purchase one here
- Blue Painter’s Tape (or something sticky you can put the screws on so you don’t lose them)
- Take out your new hard drive and connect to your computer
- Open Disk Utility and select the drive name on the left side (not the partition name)
- Select the Partition tab, and give your drive a name
- Make sure there is One Partition
- Click Options and verify that you are creating a startup disk
- Click Apply
- [Video for steps 2-6]
- Verify that your drive shows up in your Finder or Desktop
- Next turn the computer off
- Make sure your computer is turned off and unplugged
- Layout a piece of tape sticky side up and place it on your workspace
- Remove the screws on the bottom of the MacBook and place them on the tape to match the configuration of where you took them out of
- Carefully remove the back case
- Unscrew the hard drive harness (the screws will not come out of the harness so just unscrew until you can pull off)
- Carefully lift the hard drive from the end near the battery
- Disconnect the hard drive cable
- Using a T6 screwdriver, remove the side screws on the old drive and put them on the new hard drive
- Connect the cable to the new hard drive and set it in place, lining up the side screws.
- Now locate the RAM slots
- On each side there is a plastic arm that holds each cartridge down – push these away from the cartridges and they will pop up at an angle
- Slide each one out (may take a little force)
- Now slide the new cartridges in taking note of the notches on each side that line up with the plastic arm. Once in place, you can push down into position
- Put the bottom cover back on and all of the screws
- Connect your old hard drive with the SATA-to-USB cable
- Start your MacBook while holding down the Option key until you see the option to select and boot into Recovery Disk.
- Select Reinstall Mac OS X and choose your SSD as the destination disk.
- Once complete, start up your mac (will start up using the internal SSD you installed)
- Now, with your old hard driver still connected view USB, open the Migration Assistant and follow the steps to transfer all data from the old hard drive to the new one. You will be able to choose from and to locations once the migration assistant starts.
- Once it’s finished that’s it! All of your files and programs should be intact.
- I am not a certified Apple technician. Anything you do with your computer is your responsibility and I’m not liable for any malfunction. That being said, I’ve done this about three times and it’s never caused any issues. Keep your original hard drive until it seems like everything is working. If you see files missing or your computer doesn’t start up, just put the old hard drive back in.
- This “how-to” is primarily for MacBooks that were released between 2008 and 2012, however, with a bit of research, I’m sure could be applied down to the basics of swapping the hard drive and RAM.
Any issues feel free to email me!