Upgrading a MacBook Hard Drive, Installing More RAM, and Restoring via TimeMachine

by Michael on November 8, 2008 · 0 comments

We recently noticed that the 80GB hard drive on my wife’s Apple MacBook (Core 2 Duo) was getting full, so… Earlier this week I ordered more RAM (2 x 1GB) as well as a 250GB 7200RPM Seagate hard drive. When it arrived, I got to work.

We didn’t really need the RAM, but it was so cheap, and the installation is so trivial, that I couldn’t pass it up. In case you’re curious, I ordered the upgrades from OWC, and paid about $110 total ($30 for the RAM and $80 for the HD).

Preparing for the upgrades

Since we’re running Leopard, I’ve been using TimeMachine to automatically backup her hard drive to an external drive mounted as an AirDisk over our AirPort Extreme wireless network. In preparation for the upgrades, I ran one last backup, then shut off TimeMachine and shutdown the computer. The good news is that, even if you’ve been backing up over the network, uou can mount your hard drive over FireWire prior to restoring to speed things up.

Opening your MacBook

The first step to installing your upgrades is to gain access to the memory slots and the drive bay. To do this, simply flip the computer over with the battery toward you. Next, remove the battery and then take out the three visible screws to remove the L-bracket. Note that the mounting screws don’t come all of the way out of the L-bracket.

Once the bracket is out of your way, you’ll see the side-by-side memory slots in front of you and the drive bay to the left. Two little levers will pop out of the memory slots (one per slot). These are for popping the memory out of your You’re now ready to start you upgrades.

Removing and installing the RAM

Before you start, take a look at how far in the RAM chip are — you’ll need to push the new ones in this far to seat them. Once you have a good sense for how things look, you’re ready to proceed…

To remove the old RAM, simply pull the little levers toward you and to the left. The memory chips should partly emerge from the slot. Next, simply place the new memory chips into the slot in the same orientation as the old ones. In other words, insert them with the copper contacts away from you and the notch to the left. Note that they initially slide right in, but you’ll have to push a bit at the end to seat the RAM.

Removing and installing the hard drive

Removing the hard drive is surprisingly easy. Simply pull the little white tab out from under the drive and give it a tug to remove the drive. Once it’s out, you’ll see that the drive is actually mounted in a metal “sled.” You need to remove the old drive from this sled and put the new one into it.

Note that the drive is held in place by four “5-point star” screws. If you don’t have an appropriate screwdriver, it’s possible to remove these screws with a small flathead screwdriver. This is the route that I had to go. I’m not sure of the exact size, but we have a small flathead driver that fits snugly across/within the start-shaped opening. Just be careful not to strip the head of the screw.

Once you have the new drive mounted in the sled (oriented exactly like the old one), simply slide the drive/sled back into the drive bay. Make sure it goes all the way back in such that you can put the L-bracket back on.

Closing things back up

Once you’ve replaced the hard drive and RAM, simply replace the L-bracket and re-attach it with the three screws. Note that you’ll probably have to tuck the padding in along the RAM slots or the bracket won’t go back on properly. Just use a small flathead screwdriver to poke it down and tuck it behind the internal frame. Once you have the bracket re-attached, simply replace and secure the battery.

Restoring your data

Now it’s time to restore your data. Re-connect your backup drive and re-boot your computer using the Leopard installer DVD (hold down ‘C’ while you reboot). Once it’s booted, select “Disk Utility…” from the “Utilities” pulldown menu and reformat your drive.

Next, re-boot from the installer DVD. This is an important step, as you’re newly formatted drive won’t be available for restoration until you restart things. Once you’re computer is re-booted, select “Restore System From a Backup…” from the “Utilities” pulldown menu. Select the backup volume, select the backup version that you wish to use (you’ll presumably want the most recent backup), and then select the destination (your newly formatted internal drive).

That’s it. Now you just need to let TimeMachine do it’s thing.

Closing notes

The entire process (not including the TimeMachine backup) took about 20 minutes. It’s dead simple, and totally not worth paying someone to do it for you. As for TimeMachine, we had about 65GB of data to transfer back to the new drive> Although TimeMachine initially estimated 2+ hours to complete the transfer, it took under an hour to complete. Remember, you can hook up via FireWire or USB2 to speed things up even if you’ve been doing your backups over the network.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

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