Tag Archives: hard drive

Upgrading Windows HD

I recently upgraded a client’s computer from an old spinning hard drive to an SSD (solid state drive) to make the machine much faster. A simple disk clone did not work for Windows 7 to make the disk bootable. To make Windows 7 boot properly, the SID (Security Identifier) had to be updated. This is done easily using Paragon Partition Manager by just checking off the option to change the SID after performing the disk copy.

Seagate Momentus Hybrid Hard Drive

I recently upgraded the client’s old laptop hard drive laptop to a hybrid drive from Seagate:
Seagate Momentus XT 750 GB


What’s special about it? It’s got 8GB of solid state drive. That makes its speed somewhere between a standard hard drive an SSD. The drive intelligently moves commonly used files to the solid state portion. The hard drive handles all that on its own, appearing to the computer as just one drive.

With the original hard drive in this 5 year old Mac, it booted up in 55 seconds. With the new drive it booted up in 43 seconds. But after three boots, it had moved the boot files to the SSD and was booting up in 24 seconds. It felt much faster for common tasks and commonly used programs.

If you need a large fast drive, this Seagate is a great compromise. SSDs at 750GB are prohibitively expensive. And standard hard drives are much slower.

2011 Mac Mini Hard Drive Upgrade Video

We just upgraded a 2011 Apple Mac Mini to have an SSD, a second hard drive, and new RAM.


Also available on YouTube in High Definition or Standard Definition.

Parts List

  • OCZ 120 GB Vertex 3 SATA III 6.0 Gb-s 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive VTX3-25SAT3-120G
  • Western Digital 1TB Blue WD10JPVT 5400RPM, 8 MB cache, 2.5 inch, 9.5MM height hard drive
  • Corsair 8 GB DDR3 Laptop Memory Kit CMSO8GX3M2A1333C9
  • Apple Mac Mini Model MC816LL/A 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive
  • Cable: Apple Part 922-9560, also called “Apple Mac Mini Server (Mid 2010) Bottom Hard Drive Server Flex Cable” or “Hard Drive Flex Cable Bottom”. We used part number 1009005 at welovemacs.com. This is sold as a kit from ifixit.com.

Alternate Parts List

The OCZ Vertex 3 is the fastest consumer SSD at the moment. Other SSD’s that you might consider include:

The Western Digital Blue drive mentioned above is high capacity and quiet. For a faster spinning hard drive consider:

The dedicated graphics in the mid-tier Mac Mini make it worth it for me. But for the cheapest Mini, consider:

  • Apple Mac Mini MC815LL/A 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, 2GB RAM, 500GB hard drive

UPDATE: My video shows adding two 9.5MM height drives. I just upgraded another Mac Mini with a 9.5MM SSD and a 12.5MM standard hard drive. As with my first upgrade, the hard drive goes in the bottom slot (the side closest to the top of the case when upright). This does fit. But first you need to slide the logic board out slightly. Be sure to remove the IR port adapter before sliding out the logic board. The OWC video shows how to do this. I used a cut up coat hanger to insert into the logic board holes and slide it out.

First Boot

Starting with a blank hard drive is easy on the 2011 Mac Mini. Hold down Command-R to boot into Lion Recovery which allows you to format the drives and download Lion over the Internet.

TRIM Support in Lion

For optimal SSD performance, enable TRIM support within OS X Lion. Grant Pannell describes the terminal commands to enable TRIM.

Photos of Upgrade

Fan Removal
Fan Removal
WiFi Connection
WiFi Connection
Empty Hard Drive Bay
Empty Drive Bay
Original Hard Drive
Original Hard Drive
Drive Bay Side View 1
Drive Bay Side View 1
Drive Bay Side View 2
Drive Bay Side View 2
New Hard Drive & Cable
New Hard Drive & Cable
New Hard Drive Insertion
New Hard Drive Insertion
New SSD & Drive Cables Attached
New SSD & Drive Cables Attached
Attach Fan
Attach Fan

Visualize Your Hard Drive to Free Space

It’s sometimes difficult to find out what’s taking up all your computer hard drive space. That’s why I like these free programs which visually display the contents of your hard drive by file size. These programs make it easy to find and delete large files and directories that you no longer need.

For Windows – Disk Space Fan

Disk Space Fan shows you a beautiful fan of your hard drive space. Here’s a video of how it works. When you install the free version, it allows you to use the Pro version for free for 15 days, then it reverts to the free version automatically. All the basic tools are included in the free version though.

UPDATE: Daniel in the comments alerted me to the fact that Disk Space Fan is a ripoff of the Mac app DaisyDisk available at http://daisydiskapp.com.

For Mac – GrandPerspective

GrandPerspective for Mac OS X is similar to Disk Space Fan but chooses the box metaphor to visually display your files. The first segment of this video explains how it works.

For more ideas on saving hard disk space, look at the Lifehacker article How to Analyze, Clean Out, and Free Space on Your Hard Drive.

Aluminum iMac Hard Drive Upgrade

What you need

1. T6 and T8 torx screwdrivers
2. Phillips Head screwdriver
3. Microfiber cleaning cloth
4. Suction cups
5. External USB or firewire backup hard drive
6. New SATA hard drive. We recommend the 1.5TB Western Digital Green Drive

Step 1 – Backup via Time Machine

Before you start, you have to first make sure you have a recent time machine backup.  After installing the new drive, we will restore from this backup.

imac ram slot

Step 2 – Remove RAM slot

The RAM slot is held on with just 1 screw.  Unscrew it and pop off the panel.  The screw does not fall out but remains in the panel itself.  If you are upgrading RAM, this all all you need to do.


Step 3 – Remove the glass screen

This may seem like a scary step but it is extremely easy.  Firmly attach suction cups at opposite corners.  Then gently lift up.  The glass is held on with magnets and comes off with very little effort.  I recommend laying out a towel or paper towels to lay the glass on.  Be careful not to scratch the glass or screen beneath it.  If at all possible, try to do this work in a non dusty area because we will later need to clean off the dust between the glass and LCD screen.

imac-hdd-03Step 4 – Remove front aluminum casing

There are 12 screws around the edges holding on the front aluminum casing.  Unscrew them all keeping track of which ones go where since they are varying lengths.  You can then lift upwards around the edges to take off the front casing.  Flip it towards the top of the imac and lay it on the table above it so that you do not have to unhook the camera.

imac-hdd-04Step 5 – Remove LCD panel

The LCD is held down with 8 screws on the sides which need to be removed.  There is a cable marked in green toward the bottom which needs to be unhooked.  There is also a connector to the right marked in yellow that is held down with 2 screws.  Remove the screws and pull the connector upwards to unhook it.  You should then lift up the LCD gently where you will see 2 power connectors toward the upper right that need unplugging.  The LCD should then be free to place elsewhere.  The hard drive will now be visible.

imac-hdd-05Step 6 – Remove the old hard drive

There is a cushion glued on top of the heat sensor cable.  Gently pull up this cushion keeping it in one piece and try to maintain its stickiness for later.  The heat sensor is held in place in a plastic notch and can slide out of it.


imac-hdd-07There is a black plastic bar holding the hard drive in place.  Lift it up from left to right to unlock it.  This can be very challenging since it is tight.  The drive can then slide up and out and you can unhook the power and SATA cables.


Step 7 – Add the new hard drive

There are 4 screws on the old hard drive which need to be removed and added to the new hard drive so that it can slide into the holders on the iMac.  Once the power and SATA cables are plugged back in, you can slide it back in and lower the black plastic bar to lock it in place.  Place the heat sensor on the drive in about the same area where it was and use the sticky cushion to hold it in place.  If it doesn’t seem sticky enough to hold, you can get some rubber cement from your local home depot and add just a bit to hold it in place.

Step 8 – Put the system back together

Rebuilding the system is mostly straightforward.  It can be handy to have an extra pair of hands to hold the LCD as you reconnect the power cables.  We recommend you lay out the screws in an orderly manner so that you know exactly which one goes where as you rebuild.

Once the system is rebuilt except for the glass, you want to use the microfiber cloth to remove any dust or debris on the front of the LCD screen and back of the glass.  You will also need to use the microfiber cloth to clean the front of the glass once you remove the suction cups.

imac-hdd-10Step 9 – Restore from Time Machine backup

When you first boot up, insert the Mac OS X install disc and hold down the option key while booting so you can select the disc to boot from.

Step through the install until the Utilities menu appears at the top of the screen.  First use Disk Utility to erase the disk and create a volume.  Then choose to restore from backup from the same menu and choose your external time machine backup.  Your system will then be just as it was except with a new hard drive.