Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Upgrading my MacBook (Aluminum, Late 2008) with a Samsung 850 Evo SSD (250GB)

Back in early 2014, I upgraded my then ancient MacBook (Aluminum, Late 2008) from a measly 2GB to a whopping 8GB of RAM. The speed improvement when booting up and opening apps was glorious indeed. I was planning back then to also replace the stock hard drive (HDD) with a solid state drive (SSD) but I thought the 8GB RAM upgrade would do me just fine. And so I put off the SSD upgrade until the time that I could justify the need for one.

Fast forward to 2017 where my old reliable MacBook is evidently performing not so well anymore. 8 years of  continuous daily use had taken its toll and I'm left with no choice but to finally replace the stock HDD with an SSD in a last ditch attempt to improve its performance.

I thought it would be easy enough to do the SSD installation on my own. Just buy a Samsung 850 Evo 250GB SSD, clone the contents of the HDD to the SSD, remove the HDD from the MacBook, slap the SSD back in and presto! my MacBook will be running 10x faster in no time.

Easy peasy right? Oh boy was I ever wrong.

First off, I found out  that the SSD is not formatted out of the box so I had to do the formatting myself. To do that, I put the SSD in a USB/SATA drive enclosure and connected the SSD to my MacBook via the USB port. I tried to erase and format the SSD using Mac OSX's Disk Utility but the formatting process failed repeatedly. I Googled this particular issue and found out from the various forum threads that it could be due to a faulty or incompatible cable on my USB/SATA drive enclosure. One workaround suggested straight away replacing the HDD with the SSD and using a bootable El Capitan USB drive to format the SSD with the built-in Disk Utility. So I went that route and ended up with the SSD not being detected by the MacBook upon booting up.

Now what? What else am I left to do?

As a last resort, I removed the SSD from the MacBook and again put it back inside the USB/SATA drive enclosure and see if this time around my MacBook's Disk Utility can successfully format the SSD.

Lo and behold, it worked! I guess the cable inside the SATA drive enclosure was loosely connected or something hence the earlier formatting failure. I'm not entirely sure. Anyways, the SSD was formatted successfully and I was then able to clone the contents of the HDD using the Carbon Copy Cloner app.

Next step was to install the SSD on my MacBook. I used a Phillips #0 screwdriver to remove the single screw holding the HDD caddy bracket in place. After several attempts I ended up ruining the cross head.

Notice how you can barely recognize the cross head of the screw?  Yep, it became a round head screw courtesy of yours truly.

I tried using a rubber band, super glue and other tricks to remove a stripped screw but to no avail. To cut the long story short, I finally gave up trying, and just brought my MacBook to a laptop repair shop just to have that damn screw removed. And then the repair guy (Sir Tony) was able to remove the screw in just a couple of seconds! Trade secret, he replied when I inquired on how he was able to remove it so easily. (I was not around when he removed the screw).

(To be continued...)


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