A great upgrade

Seagate Momentus XT 500GB 2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s with NCQ Solid State Hybrid Drive -Bare DriveI'm super happy about an upgrade I did last night, and encourage everyone out there to consider it. I installed a Seagate Momentus X25 hybrid SSD drive ($145 incl tax from NewEgg) into my uni-body Mac Book. It was slightly more involved (and expensive) than I expected, but I am so pleased with the result.

My first attempt at upgrading involved a no-name USB to SATA cable thing. It didn't work - the drive would mount for a few minutes then forcibly unmount, with or without the external powersupply. I wasted a few hours with this approach.

Western Digital My Passport SE 1TB 2.5" USB 2.0 Ultra-portable External Hard Drive for MacThe right way to do the upgrade is with a backup-restore. Which requires a third hard-drive. For this I purchased a "Western Digital My Passport SE 1TB 2.5" USB 2.0 Ultra-portable External Hard Drive for Mac Model WDBABW0010BSL-NESN" (say that 10x fast!). It was not cheap at $200 from Best Buy (including tax). But it's a small, pretty little device that doesn't need an external power supply. I then used Time Machine to do a complete backup, which took 7 hours for 230GB of data.

Physical installation was tougher than most laptops, but not by much. You need a tiny philips head and a torx T-6 tool. It's pretty straightforward and took about 10 minutes.

To restore you need your startup disk. This is a critical piece and I bet lack of it will stymie many would-be upgraders. Select Utilities|Restore from Time Machine Backup, and wait. I was a bit freaked out by the extended white screen on boot, but apparently that's normal. Restore took about 5 hours.

This drive is freakin' fast. My whole machine is noticeably snappier. I didn't want to buy the external USB drive, but I'm kinda glad I did: it's a nice bit of insurance. (I was slightly tempted to get a Time Capsule, which includes an 802.11n router with a 1TB drive, but decided against because of the $340 price tag, and the almost certainly slower performance.)

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