Upgrade your Macbook Pro to a 1 TB hard drive
If you bought a Macbook Pro in the last couple years, like me, you may be pushing the limits of the factory installed 250Gb hard drive. So far, the factory installed Toshiba hard drive has been rock solid, no complaints. I just need more space than 250Gb.
As of right now, the current Macbook Pros come with 500Gb or 750Gb hard drives (with an option to upgrade to 1Tb). Back when I bought, they had 250Gb and 500Gb options. If you want more storage in your Macbook Pro, read on!
Select a Hard Drive
The first decision you have to make when buying a hard drive is how much space do you want?
I figure storage is relatively cheap, so why not go as big as possible? After a bit of research, the disk I chose to go with is the Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1 TB Hard Drive. The decision was mainly based on the size of the disk, but several reviews I read all stated the disk is quiet and reasonably fast for it's size. The price is right as well (right around $100US).
I realize there may be some flash storage fans reading this wondering why I didn't go with flash. As much as I really want flash storage, it just isn't there yet in terms of size and cost. You pay much more for the same 250GB disk that's already full. I want big and cheap, and unfortunately flash is neither of those yet.
Transfer your data
The next challenge you must overcome is how to get your data moved to the new disk without having to reinstall everything. There are obviously several different ways you can do this, each with their pros and cons. I'll show you the way I did it and you can decide if it's the way for you. Also, a friendly disclaimer: Use the following information at your own risk. The information below is intended to help, but if for some reason you lose data or damage your computer in the process of upgrading your hard drive, I am not responsible. If you are not comfortable with doing this type of work on your own, please bring your computer to a geeky friend or Apple store where they can do it for you. Ok, now on with the upgrade!
First, get an external drive enclosure. If you don't already have one for a laptop size drive, you need to decide if you are going to use it regularly or just for this migration. I personally don't carry around external hard drives with me, so I just wanted an inexpensive drive enclosure for this one task. This is where the 2.5" USB 2.0 SATA Hard Drive HDD Case Enclosure comes in. For about $3, it's almost the cheapest external drive enclosure I could find and it actually works. The thing doesn't even come in a box, it's vacuum sealed in a plastic bag (talk about passing the low cost onto the consumer).
Here's a picture of what you get in the bag:
Second, download Carbon Copy Cloner.
This software used to be donation-ware, but the developer recently changed it to a full blown piece of software that you have to pay for (and he rightly should, it's a great product). Luckily, he was kind enough to allow a 30 day free trial that is fully functioning. If you have the funds, I'd recommend buying the full copy to support the developer. CCC has been around for years, I used it way back in the day when I supported a lot of Macs in an education environment. If you are only doing this one-time disk transfer though, the demo copy will work.
Third, format the new drive. Once you have installed Carbon Copy Cloner and you have your new 1TB drive in the external drive enclosure, connect the USB drive enclosure to your mac and open Disk Utility to format the new disk. If you can't locate Disk Utility, it's in the Applications > Utilities folder. A simple way to find it is to use spotlight (Command+Spacebar opens it up) then type disk utility. I called the new disk "terabyte" - you can call it whatever you want, just name it something different than your current Macintosh HD.
Fourth, start the cloning process. After the new drive is formatted, open Carbon Copy Cloner. It should prompt you about licensing, click Trial or enter your registration code to continue. Then select your source disk which is your existing small hard drive (Macintosh HD) and select the destination disk, which is the USB attached drive (in my case this is called terabyte). Click the Clone button to begin.
At this point, you can walk away from the computer for a bit. Depending on the amount of data on the old disk, it can take several hours for the copy process to complete. Once it finishes, eject the USB hard drive by dragging it to the trash (which turns into an eject button).
To test the new drive, you can boot the Macbook Pro using the USB drive instead of the internal drive. To do this, reboot your Mac and hold the Option key. This will launch the startup manager. Select the USB drive and then wait. It will take a lot longer to boot using the USB drive instead of the SATA connection internally. After a few minutes, your mac should be up and running on the new drive with everything exactly the same as the old drive. At this point, you can shut down and swap the drives.
Install the new hard drive
Now it's time to physically swap the hard drives. This process really isn't that difficult if you have experience working with computers. If you have upgraded memory, you can definitely swap a hard drive.
Rather than trying to explain step-by-step exactly how to do this, I've included the following video from YouTube that does a great job explaining the process. If it moves a little too slow for you, there are other videos on youtube that show the process in 60 seconds.
At this point, you should have a new hard drive with plenty of space.
As always, comments and questions are welcome below.