Something I’ve wanted for a while is to install a second hard drive in my MacBook Pro but the main thing that held me back was the fact that I actually used my optical drive and removing it wasn’t really an option. But lately, I haven’t really been using it anymore and I figured now was a good a time as any!
I had done a bunch of reading on the subject before going ahead with this from which SSD I should get to what was the best way to configure OSX after the install. Everything looked pretty painless and straight forward and there didn’t appear to be any surprises (famous last words). A friend of mine knew about what I wanted to do so when he came across a $100 rebate from Intel on their 240GB 520 Series SSD, I took it as a sign and ordered the drive right away (Intel, I have yet to see my $100 rebate by the way).
With the SSD down, I looked at drive adapters to replace the optical drive. Going against most people’s suggestions, I went for the OWC Data Doubler Bracket. I was actually going to get a generic one off Amazon or eBay but reviews of people having them not fitting right steered me away. There were alternatives, but I liked the idea of a lightweight bracket and figured it wasn’t worth the hassle dealing with the UK or full on enclosure/adapters. I’ll admit though, it is a little more than I wanted to spend on a small piece of metal.
Now having the hardware down, and Mountain Lion being only a few short weeks away, I decided to hold out on doing the install until it was released so that I could take the opportunity to do a fresh new install of OS X. Today was that day. “Burning” the OS X installer to USB was really easy except that at the end of it, Disk Utility threw an error about Invalid Parameters or something. Doing a quick search actually showed the error could be ignored and the installer was in fact successfully copied to the USB drive.
All set! Time to install the hardware!
Installation of the SSD was as advertised, unscrew these, unplug that, swap form here to there… Extremely straight forward and the supplied tools from Mac Sales meant I didn’t even have to go dig up my own to do the job!
Once installed, I left the old drive unplugged just so there would be no chance of accidentally installing Mountain Lion to the wrong drive. Just as a backup in case there was any need for me to go back to the old drive before I was ready.
OS X install was quick as always. After the initial copy, the installation process only took about 15 minutes if not less and initial boot seemed almost instantaneous. Subsequent boots took a few seconds.
After reconnecting my original drive, I followed the instructions of creating symlinks to my documents, downloads, photos, and music directories. Most things fell into place, like iTunes, which acted like nothing ever happened but some things like ChronoSync, which I use for my backups, had to be set up again since it wasn’t able to follow the symlinks and freaked out about not finding the source directories. Not how I was hoping it would be but something I will have to live with.
Apart from that, I now have my system on the SSD and all my files and documents on the old HDD. Once I’m sure I’ve transferred all my application settings and whatnot, I’ll begin the process of deleting the old system files and moving the data directories to the root of the drive instead of the original user directory where it sits now.
Worth the price of admission? Not sure yet, but I’ll update with another post after I’ve had a chance to really run this setup through. Things do feel quicker but I’ll confirm that after I get over my initial excitement.
Mountain Lion? Can’t say I see too much difference yet, though I have to say I never knew how much I customized my OS until I did this fresh install. There were so many settings I forgot I had changed. Drag lock, double click the title bar to minimize, enabling tab on dialog box buttons, enabling mouse-over highlight in stacks… Not to mention all my little tweaks to Terminal!