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Upgrading Laptop Hard Drive and Memory

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We got a tax refund, so it's time for some long overdue upgrades. I upgraded the hard drive and memory in my mid 2009 MacBook Pro. Upgrading the hard drive and memory in other laptops will be similar. In my case, I'm upgrading the memory from 4 to 8 GB and I'm replacing the traditional motorized hard drive with an SSD drive of a larger capacity. I choose Crucial for both the memory and SSD drive as they are reported to have a very good compatibility record with Macs.


I followed the excellent instructions provided on Crucial's site: Memory / SSD Drive. Crucial has instructions for other laptops as well.


Start - Hard Drive


The mid- 2009 MacBook Pros have a unibody construction, so you access the interior by flipping the machine over and removing the tiny screws from the perimeter. The instructions said the screws were #00 Philips, but the #00 Philips in one of my kits was too large. Fortunately I had another kit with a Philips that fit.




The mat in the picture is an old anti-static mat that you used to be able to get to put your computer on. I don't use it for the anti-static properties so much as a really nice pad to put computers on when I'm working on them.


Here's the interior once the back has been removed:


Interior Closeup


I've labelled some of the components. I'm going to replace the hard drive first. The Crucial instructions recommend removing the battery first, but I don't have the proper tool for the screws securing the battery, so I left it. To remove the hard drive, I need to remove the two screws holding the mounting bracket in place. These are circled in the picture above. The screws are captive in the bracket, so they don't come out completely. Once the bracket is removed, I pull the tab to lift the drive out of the case. Don't lift it too far - the cable is still attached. I then pull off the cable and the hard drive is free.


Hard Drive Removed


The hard drive is held in place by four mounting screws that fit into the brackets in the case. So we need to remove those screws with the Torx #6 screwdriver and transfer them to the new hard drive.


SSD Drive Ready


Here is the new hard drive with the mounting screws attached. The SSD drive is slimmer than the old hard drive, so I need to use the spacer supplied with the SSD drive to make it fit securely. One odd bit is that the SSD drive is mounted upside down, with the spacer on top. So I mount the spacer as instructed and attach the cable, then I slip the hard drive back into the retaining bracket. Then I attach the second retaining bracket that I removed previously.


SSD Installed


We're done with the hard drive.




Now I'll upgrade the memory. Here's a close-up of the memory showing the retaining clips.


Memory Closeup


When you pry those retaining clips apart, the memory card will pop up. It's still a little tricky to remove since it's so small, but I found that holding the one side of the clip open and lifting one side and then doing the same with the other made it fairly easy to remove. Repeat the process with the second memory card, if present. I had a second card. Once the old memory has been removed, you can see the slots:


Memory Slots


The new memory just needs to be popped into the slots. Once you push it in all the way, it will easily click into place.


All done! After restoring the data from backup, my Mac is purring along. It's much faster than before. :)

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Or the alternative guide for standard laptops without unibody panels:


Remove back panel with hard drive icon on it, remove hard drive, fit replacement hard drive, refit back panel with hard drive icon on it.

Remove back panel with square beetle icon on it, remove RAM (unless a spare slot is available), fit replacement/additional RAM, refit back panel with square beetle icon on it.


End of alternative guide.

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I just thought it was cool to see the inside of a laptop.


Also some laptops still have mounting screws for the hard drive, even if they do provide an access panel.

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Touché! Actually I have ordered a couple of toolkits that will enable to replace an iPhone screen, should the need arise. I'm getting all the specialty tools so I can fix laptops and cell phones. :P

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I've replaced a few laptop screens in the past, it's not so hard actually. You remove the front bevel (plastic frame) which sometimes is clipped and sometimes is screwed into place. Then unclip and carefully lift slightly forward the existing screen, taking care not to pull taught the wires linking it to the laptop. Detach those wires from the back of the screen, reconnect to the back of the new screen, then clip screen in and refit bevel. Easy.

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