Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hard Drive Upgrade

I currently own and use a four year old PowerBook 15" which uses the latest operating system and is reasonably fast - fast enough that I am not ready to upgrade to a new one. That speaks volumes for Apple's products in that I know of Windows users who seem to buy a new laptop annually.

But there is one problem - I need lots of storage! Even with several external drives I continually have a full 80 GB internal drive.

So I researched the web and found that I could replace the old drive with a new, larger one which would also run faster (5,400 vs 4,200 rpm) and have four times the storage capacity! The Western Digital 250 GB drive cost around £60 from and I found instructions for replacing the drive on The latter appeared to be somewhat daunting but worth a go.

The key to replacing an internal system disk hard drive is to think it all through and get organized. Before doing anything (and it was while waiting for delivery of the new drive anyway) I wrote up the following:

Replacement 250 GB hard drive protocol

1. Back up existing internal hard drive to SuperDuper! 80 GB drive “portable”

2. Replace existing internal drive with new 250 GB drive

3. Restore SuperDuper! drive to new 250 GB drive having first re-named drive “PB G4 15 HD”

4. Re-boot from new drive and if everything checks out, temporarily back up to SuperDuper! drive

5. Copy Aperture Vault drive to 250 GB USB drive (erased and re-named)

6. Using SuperDuper! back up internal drive to LaCie 250 GB large drive (ex-Vault)

5. Keep Aperture, and iTunes drives the same.

6. Synchronize iDisk to internal hard drive.

SuperDuper! proved to be invaluable, creating bootable drives all over the place and giving great peace of mind if something was to go wrong!

Using existing external drives I was able to first backup the old drive and then install the new drive. Installation probably took just over an hour and needed several special tools which are indispensible - very small Phillips screwdriver and a small Hexagonal key. Fortunately I own both. iFixit's instructions are clear and the photos certainly help a great deal. There seemed to be one small error in the instruction (there was no need to disconnect the trackpad) and there were inevitable small design changes within the PowerBook (two screws instead of three, that sort of thing).

With the back up drive attached to a firewire port I booted up and there was the new drive, empty and waiting to be filled with data! SuperDuper! copied the backup disk onto the new disk in well over an hour and then I rebooted and "voila" the basic job was finished.

What followed would best be called good housekeeping - a 250 GB backup drive to replace the previous 80 GB one - as well as some re-organization of the various externals.

You will see item 6 above refers to iDisk synchronization. My MobileMe account provides 20GB of storage in the "cloud" and I intend to start using this. Synchronization allows access to the iDisk when I am not connected to the internet. Another form of backup, and this user believes in backup!!!

The bottom line: everything seems to be working OK. The entire process has taken several hours within a 24 hour time span but I would guess that the basic backup, replace, restore procedure only took about 5 hours for 80 GB of data.