Advice on Changing a MacBook Hard Disk

I finally received the larger, 160GB laptop disk drive I ordered some time ago. I turns out that they were back ordered and that the supply wasn't coming in as quickly as the folks at Trans International thought, so they kindly cut me a deal on a different 160GB drive that they'd just received a shipment of, and as a bonus, they overnighted it to me.

I had some issues with the minixpress 825 firewire drive that I also ordered. It's a new product and they're still having to work out some kinks in the housing design. After a call to the company and some futzing around (involving some shims under the disk where it connects to the board), it was working fine.

I used Carbon Copy Cloner to copy the laptop's entire 80 gig drive to the new one 160 gig one, then shutdown to swap the small drive out and put the large drive in.

Replacing the hard drive on a MacBook is really quite simple, but still, here are some small points of advice:

  • Although not mentioned in the instructions, the laptop does not recognize the disk if installed upside-down.

  • Pressing the disk in harder does not help.

  • The correct orientation when the MacBook is upside-down is “disk label-side down”

  • There are thin rubber glides on the sides of the bay, connected tenuously with small dabs of glue. Leave them there. Do not shove them back into the bay while trying to insert the disk.

  • If you shove them back into the bay, installing the disk (even correct-side-up) is a challenge, at best.

  • Tweezers can help to retrieve packed-in-the-back rubber glides

  • There is a thin protective strip of metal that covers the disk and memory bay. While it's possible to reinstall this thin strip even when the disk has been inserted upside-down, it is not recommended. It's much easier to install if the disk has been installed correctly.

I hope these bits of advice are helpful to someone.

I now have 70 gig free, and will start filling with converted copies of old home video on Hi-8 and SVHS tapes.


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

Good advice from the “Get me a bigger hammer” school of drive swaping.;-)

Back in 2001 or 2 I posted a how-to photo guide for upgrading the 3GB hard drive to a 30GB in an orginal clamshell iBook, showing the order for removing all the components (keyboard, layer trays, CD drive, monitor cables and more all had to go) and how to put all the dozens of screws in ice cube trays, and how much wine you should drink at each stage to calm your nerves. I wish that computer had survived it last breakdown. I loved it.

— comment by nils on August 12th, 2006 at 2:30pm JST (11 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I had to replace a drive and had the misfortune to shove it in upside-down (like many people!). I opened up the macbook and pulled out the guides but couldn’t neatly get them back in. I tried not using the guides (bad idea) — then finally unscrewed the Torx screws from the caddy and screwed the rubber guides right into the drive. Worked first try, and should be stable!

Give it a shot if you’re stuck… there are screw holes that line up perfectly for a reason I assume.

Good luck!

— comment by Nathan on February 2nd, 2009 at 3:26pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks for this information. Unfortunately it was a few hours late for me. I pretty much did everything you said not to do.

You didn’t mention that when the drive becomes stuck in the slot by the dislodged rubber strips, then if you pull hard enough you can rip off the plastic tab. This then requires you to remove the top of the Macbook to fix it up.

In the end it was all good though.

— comment by David on July 6th, 2009 at 5:13pm JST (8 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Like so many of you, I have disloged the rubber runner. I have no idea how to take the top of the mac- is this even safe for a novice like me? I’ve tried gluing it back in with now luck.

I would definitely not recommend taking the cover off the computer. IIRC, you can pin the end of the rubber thing in place with a pair of tweezers as you gently slide the disk in. —Jeffrey

— comment by Hannah on October 4th, 2009 at 11:19pm JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink
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