Upgrading your Macbook Hard Drive.

Since I bought my Black Macbook in July of 2007 it has been rock solid with very few problems. Now, I installed Vista on it about six months ago, since I seem to have to support users with Vista (I can do XP Support in my head).

Amongst all of the fun with my server, I haven’t had a chance to do a full backup of everything on the internal drive. (GASP, I know). Not having backups is crazy in my book, so I went out last week and bought a 250GB 2.5″ Seagate hard drive to backup my old OS X 10.5 Leopard client info that’s on the drive I want to use for my backup. Why would I do this, you never know if you’re going to need something, and I would rather archive it than destroy that data.

My initial thought was to just use the 250GB hard drive as backup, but then I got to thinking, wait, my macbook only has a 160GB hard drive. My OS X Client data is only 120GB, so why not upgrade the Macbook’s hard drive. If I only had OS X Leopard installed this wouldn’t have been a big problem, just use Super Duper or Carbon Copy Cloner to do the copy, pull out the battery, unscrew the three screws and all would work. But, I installed Vista so the problem became more complicated.

So I did my googling, and ran across WinClone. This was the easy way to save the Bootcamp partition without having to re-install everything. There is one HUGE downside though, but I’ll come to that in just a bit.

So, here was my procedure for upgrading my hard drive:

Pull out my current Macbook’s hard drive.
Partition the new hard drive into two partitions.
Then use WinClone to make an image of the Windows Partition.
Clone my current Macbook’s Mac OS X Partition to the new Partition on the new drive
Restore the Windows Vista Partition using WinClone.
Install new Hard Drive and remove old hard drive
Boot up new hard drive to verify that it all works, both OS X and Vista.
Relax now that it is done?.

Now Let’s dive into each of these individual sections.

Step 1. Pull out my current Macbook’s hard drive.

This was easy enough. Removing the battery and the three screws, and then the hard drive was quite simple and easy. No mess, no fuss.

Step 2. Partition the new hard drive into two partitions.

I bought a 2.5″ USB enclosure for the 2.5″ hard drive from my Macbook, since I do want to be able to use it later on. I put the new hard drive in this enclosure and then ran Disk Utility to partition the drive into 170GB for Mac OS X, using HFS+ Journaled and 80GB for Vista using MS-DOS. Who knows, I may want to play some Steam on Vista. This went smoothly and as expected from OS X.

Step 3. Use WinClone to make an image of the Windows Partition.

This worked beautifully, yet it took several hours to complete. (This is the downside that I mentioned earlier). So I started making an image of the Windows Partition. I hooked up the drive and enclosure to my iMac and did the WinClone procedure and saved the image to my iMac’s hard drive.

Remember, I have 2 macs, so it might be possible to do this with only one Mac, but it might be a bit slower. And you could have used the Mac Partition of the new hard drive to store the image to be restored. Then delete the file and do the Clone of the OS X Partition.

Step 4. Clone the Macbook’s Mac OS X Partition.

After the WinClone procedure finished I unhooked my old drive and put it back into my Macbook. After replacing the screws and battery I booted up the Macbook into OS X. I hooked up the newly partitioned hard drive to my Macbook and proceeded to use Super Duper to do an exact clone of my OS X Partition. This did take a while, but as expected went flawlessly.’

Step 5. Restore Windows Partition using WinClone .

Again, I hooked up the new hard drive to my iMac and went ahead and restored the saved image of Vista from WinClone onto the new hard drive. This, like the initial imaging process took hours to complete. But, I sat and waited and it did finished successfully.

Step 6. Install new hard drive and remove old hard drive.

I followed the same procedure as pulling out the old hard drive earlier. I pulled out the battery, removed the three screws and pulled out the hard drive. The hard drive is in a flimsy aluminum carriage that has a tab to easily pull the hard drive out. This is secured with 4 star screws which, luckily, I had a set of screw drivers that could remove these. I put the carriage on the new hard drive and reinstalled the hard drive, screws and battery.

Step 7. Boot up new hard drive to verify that it all works, both OS X and Vista.

This was the moment of truth. Did I screw something up? Did Winclone fail? Would everything boot up as expected? Well”¦ all copied and booted the first time without any problems. So it was a rousing success. I did test out both Operating Systems just to be sure that everything did work and that it would not crash on me in the middle of something. So far it hasn’t.

Step 8. Relax now that it is done?.

Obviously yes, I could relax knowing that everything booted and all of my data was secure.

Final Thoughts.

So Far everything is working as expected. The only little hitch I have run across is that it does seem to take longer than usual when accounts want to log off. While this isn’t a big problem it is a noticeable difference. I might try running some of the usual things, like Verify Disk and Onyx to clear up any caches and the like, just to see if that will correct the problem. I’d think it would. But if not, it’s not the end of the world.

I'm into everything technology related, particularly anything Apple related. I enjoy programming and tend to lean towards server-based technologies over client-based. You can contact me on twitter, via e-mail, or follow me on friendfeed.