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HDD surgery for my MacBook Pro

Posted on 28/8/08 by Felix Geisendörfer

Hey folks,

here we go with post #9 of my 30 day challenge.

This isn't exactly a CakePHP / JS tip, but I feel like blogging about it ; ). For several weeks my MacBook Pro's HDD was maxed out. I had a 7200 RPM 160 GB HDD and since I have a ton (!) of music, pictures and a bootcamp partition this is close to nothing. When I finally had to spend 5-10 minutes every day just to keep the system running (OSX hates < 2GB of free HDD) I had to do something.

Since I didn't want to delete any of my data, I checked out additional hard drives. However, I was a little bit unhappy that there didn't seem to be any fast (7200 RPM) 2.5" harddrives with 300 GB or more. So eventually I decided that I had to sacrifice the fast speed if I wanted to go for big. And big I got:

What you see below is the Samsung SpinPoint M60S HM500LI, a 500 GB HDD with 5400 RPM and a 8mb buffer.

Here is a size comparison to the MacBook Pro:

So far so good. However, after I ordered the HDD it was laying around for quite a bit. Why? I was scared. Looking at the ifixit guide I knew the replacement would be quite involved. I mean now that I done it I know its nothing but taking out a couple of screws and cables and putting them back together. But boy did my hands shake while working on the internals of my little work buddy : ).

The beginning was easy. You take your Mac and take a before picture just in case you'll never see it again:

Then you turn it off and start by removing the battery:

Next you take off the little cover where the memory is located (I had already done that once before when putting 4GB Ram in):

Then you basically take out screws. Lots of them. It really helps to have the right tools as indicated in the ifixit guide. Especially the torx screw driver and spudger are things you don't want to miss.

Once you got all the screws out, you crack the case open. This is when it gets scary and your every move feels like you could destroy the little machine that is at the mercy of your hands:

In order to take the keyboard and top part of the case of you have to disconnect its wire. The trick is to carefully loose the yellow tape used to fixate the cable without knocking of any capacitors or shit. Once that is accomplished you are rewarded with this stunning picture:

The hard drive itself is located at the bottom left, and you need to lift up two yellow tapes again as well as disconnect the HDD:

Here is a close-up shot of the old drive that was in my MacBook:

And this is the HDD connector including the yellow tape fixating it:

Once you got all the cables and stuff off, you can take off the hdd. It has 4 bumpers and placeholders screwed to it which you need to transfer to the new drive. After that you basically just put all the stuff back in in reverse order and pray for the best. While I put my new drive in I suddenly had a little component hanging from one of the cables which I accidently pulled out. It turned out this simply was just placed in a little compartment left to the drive and I didn't rip anything. But boy was I scared ; ).

Anyway, after putting everything back together and booting up with the Leopard Install DVD, I was very happy to discover the surgery was a success! I formatted the new disk and recovered my data from a time machine Backup and things couldn't have been much smoother. The only thing I noticed is that I lost my mysql my.cnf file. It was located in /etc/private/my.cnf which unfortunately is excluded from the backup. Oh well, no biggie - after all I was just glad to not have killed my machine before leaving for the US today ; ).

Alright, hope some of you guys enjoyed the pictures. As far as I can tell there isn't much of a performance hit because of the slower RPM speed yet, but that's just my initial impression.

Oh and before I forget. From tomorrow on my time zone is EST since I'm in Atlanta. So my posts will be published by 9am EST not CET anymore.

-- Felix Geisendörfer aka the_undefined


You can skip to the end and add a comment.

rafaelbandeira3 said on Aug 29, 2008:

nice step-by-step!.... still waiting on "I believe..." follow-up... ;)

Good trip!

Nate Klaiber said on Aug 29, 2008:

Felix, this comes at a perfect time. I am upgrading the HD in my Macbook next week. I don't need quite the amount of space, so I settled for a 350GB 7200 RPM drive. My current macbook only holds 80GB, but I have a Mac Pro and iMac with 250GB each. I want to consolidate to one machine, so that's the reason I chose to upgrade.

Chris Forrette said on Aug 29, 2008:

Hey Felix,

Great instructions! I'm always scared to work on any of my Apple products because they are so pristine and fancy looking but this makes things seem a little more accessible. I noticed that you use your MacBook plugged into a Cinema Display, as I do, and I wanted to recommend this awesome product that I use for the same type of setup:

It's kind of pricey for a simple stand but is really great because it allows me to line up my MacBook screen right alongside my display, it's made of solid aluminum so it matches your laptop and is very durable, it has good ventilation, and it's also good to use with your MacBook by itself as I guess it encourages good posture (or whatever :) ). Anyway, just thought I'd throw it out there. Keep up the good work with the challenge, take care...

Daniel Hofstetter said on Aug 29, 2008:

That looks really scary compared to my Dell notebook, there I have to remove two screws and I can unplug the harddisk ;-)

Thomas  said on Aug 29, 2008:

hey felix. it seems you are drifting away from the theme, do you? maybe you need some topics? :P
there are a couble of themes i for myself have currently to do with. f.e. performance-tweeking of cakephp-based applications using cache-engines and pimping the application-structures itself. maybe you knowing some "secrets", no documentation writes about =)

in fact, there are a lot of things the common documentation doesn't mention or doesn't descripes enough. f.e. the many smart tools of cakephp 1.2 (like Set::extract()) or, and this is realy bad, the many changes from 1.1 to 1.2. like currently the changes in the find-method.

NOSLOW  said on Aug 29, 2008:

@Thomas: I was thinking the same thing myself. I'd like to hear about ways to improve performance. Lately I've been wondering about the Registry class and would like to see some good examples of when to use it.

tomo said on Aug 29, 2008:

Hi Felix,

I think your new hard drive is faster than a hypothetic 7200rpm 300Gb equivalent. It's a thing with density of the magnetic boards I think, like putting 100dots in a circle spining at 7200rpm versus 150 dots spinning at 5400...

And as for the "on topic issue", cake is really slow. We found out using a profiler that cake calls strtolower funcion a few hundred times in a single process cycle. There are more mind boggling things like that.

Also, the way cake instances models and all his calls, functions and parameters causes a simple model we used (user profile) to use up a peak of 9MB of memory !!! That's really horrifying. :)

Here is a comparison of php framework speeds Rasmus Lerdorf made that says cake is the slowest of em all...

tomo said on Aug 29, 2008:

P.S. sorry for doubleposting, just wanted to note I don't suffer a lot from framework speed comparisons, but I have noticed cake to be substantially slower than I'd like it to be, and that it can eat up a lot of memory rather quickly.

Felix Geisendörfer said on Aug 29, 2008:

Thomas: I'll let you know when I run out of topics, no worries.

Anyway, I don't know how this turned into a framework speed comparison discussion, but here are a few points: Rasmus seems to have completely screwed up the setup for CakePHP. I'm not sure what he did, but cake probably did a db connection in every request whereas the other frameworks didn't. If you want good solid speed comparisons, turn to Paul M. Jones blog.

tomo: Without posting your setup I cannot comment on it. 9MB seems way too much and I have not seen that happen with any of my projects for a single model so far.

Marcus  said on Nov 20, 2009:

Hi... your new HDD has an 8mb buffer right? is it automatically configured for use by your mac? im considering upgrading my old black macbook's HDD too and im not sure if the buffer is somehting that is automatically used/installed/configured in macs or if i need to have a special software/driver for that

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