Upgrading to SSD

I own an early 2008 MacBook Pro, and though I have no major complaints about it, I decided to upgrade its internal storage. It is configured with a 200 GB 7200rpm drive, Mountain Lion, and a Boot Camp partition running Windows XP. I upgraded to the 240 GB OWC Mercury Electra 3G. This decision was made in the hopes of extending the useful life of my Mac while gaining some speed.

Why not a faster SSD?

My early 2008 Mac only offers a 1.5 Gbps SATA connection; the SSD I chose can already achieve speeds faster than what my machine is capable of matching, and is available at a good price point. I should still see a decent speed improvement.

Clone or fresh install?

This decision was not easy to make, until I realized that substantially more effort would be involved in trying to clone the Boot Camp partition over. Plus, XP is at the end of its extended support period, suggesting I should upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. So, I performed a fresh install of Mac OS 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

My process was as follows: 

  1. Connect SSD using external USB 2.0 enclosure
  2. Boot Mac while holding Cmd+R (this boots the Recovery HD)
  3. Use Disk Utility to format the SSD using Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
  4. Install Mac OS X on the SSD
  5. Open the Mac, take out the HDD, install the SSD, and put the HDD in the external enclosure. Use the iFixit guide while swapping the drives.
  6. Use Migration Assistant to copy over necessary applications and files to the SSD

What to do with the old internal drive?

After moving all needed files from the HDD to the SSD, I chose to format the HDD, wiping out the Boot Camp partition in the process. Then I moved my iTunes and iPhoto libraries back to the HDD, so that they aren’t stored internally. I used iPhoto Library Manager by Fat Cat Software to merge two iPhoto libraries. Starting in 2014, I will keep annual libraries, I think. 

Since this was my “start fresh” moment and I had already determined that all necessary files were present, I also formatted a 500 GB Western Digital Passport that I had been having trouble with; this is my Time Machine drive. 

Results

Boot time is still not particularly fast; however, waking from sleep and opening applications (especially AutoCAD) is markedly faster. I’m happy with the swap, and I hope it will last several years.