Upgrading to an SSD with Mac OS X

I decided to upgrade my Macbook Pro to use an SSD until I decide to get a new laptop. I chose the Intel 320 Series 300GB drive to replace the existing 320GB drive (I wasn’t really using that extra 20GB anyways).

Prior to opening anything up I cloned the drive using Carbon Copy Cloner with some help from this Apple forum: https://discussions.apple.com/message/13002475#13002475

Opening up the Macbook Pro (Late 2008 edition) to replace the drive was really easy. I needed a few tools to get the actual drive out though, but this site helped out a lot: http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook-Pro-15-Inch-Unibody-Late-2008-and-Early-2009-Hard-Drive-Replacement/841/1

Once I put the new drive in I had to make a few tweaks to OS X since SSDs don’t need the same kind of maintenance as regular disk based hard drives, and some of those maintenance routines can actually harm the drive. The following site did a good job of listing them all out with pretty good instructions: http://sysadmin.flakshack.com/post/9253439680/ssd-tweaks-for-mac-os-x

And finally, I had to tell OS X that the old hard drive was gone so it wouldn’t look for it every time I boot up the laptop and instead tell it to use the new drive by going to System Preferences -> Startup Disk and just clicking on the new drive.

With all that done I am seeing some pretty impressive boot times as well as login and app launch times. I’m no longer worried about leaving applications open when I shut down the machine because they all load really fast when the machine boots back up. The biggest improvement I’ve seen is with launching Gimp. It has to load a ton of files at launch, and with the SSD they load up in the blink of an eye.

UPDATE (Mar 1): After using the new SSD for about a week I’ve been seeing all kinds of improvements all over the place. VMWare Fusion loads virtual machines with ridiculous speed, and switching between the Host and Guest OSes no longer results in 5 minutes of painful lag. My best guess is that memory swapping to the drive is occurring so fast that it’s nearly imperceptible. Also the load time of Firefox is almost instantaneous as well.

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