Many of you have lamented that you just have taken too many pictures and made too many iMovies and bought too many iTunes and now your hard drive is full. If you have a desktop Mac, using an external hard drive for extra storage is a cheap and easy remedy, but if you have a laptop, it’s a nuisance to carry and attach the extra hardware. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to replace a Mac laptop’s internal hard drive with a greater-capacity model, once again providing you with room to work and play.
Modern laptop hard drives (known as Serial ATA, or SATA, 2.5″ drives) are made by five companies, and mostly come in two speeds: normal (5400 RPM), and faster (7200 RPM). Your Mac almost certainly came with a “normal” speed drive. Usually, the “normal” speed drives offer higher capacity than the largest “faster” drives.
Western Digital and Toshiba rule the roost for high-capacity normal-speed drives, as each have a 640 GB model, which is going to be way more than whatever your Apple laptop came with. These will work with any MacBook or MacBook Pro. Western DIgital also has 750 GB and 1 TB models — that’s a lot of mobile storage — but, because they are physically larger, they will only will work with “unibody” MacBooks and MacBook Pros (aluminum body and CD loads on the right side), as well as any 17″ MacBook Pro.
If size isn’t as important to you as speed, then you want a drive from Toshiba, Hitachi, or Seagate. All offer 500 GB “faster” (7200 RPM) drives, which will give you both a size and speed boost over your stock Mac drive.
If you have an older Mac laptop — a PowerBook or iBook, rather than a MacBook — you need an older style of drive called Parallel ATA, or PATA for short. (The terms ATA, Ultra ATA, or IDE are also sometimes used.) Most of the hard drive manufacturers have stopped making these, but Western Digital is still at it, with a 320 GB normal speed drive. There are no “faster” models.
In addition, a drive is not just a drive these days: the different manufacturers offer different variations on the basic models. You can get drives which have data encryption (meaning the data on the drive can’t be manually extracted by Bad People), extra shock protection (not a bad idea), higher endurance for 24/7 operation, and automatic head parking (the drive braces for impact if your computer goes flying; Macs also do this automatically with any drive). None of these features, of course, is a substitute for backing up!
The replacement drives themselves generally cost less than $150 and can be purchased at Best Buy, Newegg, Amazon, and other electronics/computer retailers.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can do the install yourself, using the handy guides at iFixit for reference. Or we can put in the new drive for you, and copy your data onto it. Contact us if you have any questions.
Keep in mind that replacing a drive does officially void Apple’s warranty, although in our experience Apple will usually overlook it if other problems arise that need to be fixed under warranty.
So, if your Mac is feeling cramped and needs to stretch out, you have options. As always, let us know if we can help.