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I Upgraded the Hard Drive In My MacBook Pro

MBPro with a new drive

My main computer in the recording studio is a 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro cca. 2007. The hard drive that it came with was only 120 GB, which isn't very big when you have a number of recording projects on the go, lots of photos, iTunes full of tons of music and so on. So I ordered a 320 GB drive and external USB2 enclosure from Other World Computing (only $115 after a rebate). Swapping in the new drive was surprisingly easy. Here are the main steps.

1. Install the 320 GB drive in the external enclosure, connect it to the MBPro, and format the drive using Apple's Disk Utility.

2. Create a clone of the original 120 GB drive onto the new 320 GB drive. I used an app called SuperDuper. The basic version is free, and it works great. It's very easy to use.

3. Install the new 320 GB drive into the MBPro. Shut down the computer first (obviously)! This is a little tricky, but not to be feared if you're reasonably handy with a screwdriver. The newer MBPros are designed for easy hard drive swapping, but mine wasn't - you have to take the thing apart. I followed a great instructional video from OWC. There are about 24 teensy weensy little itsy bitsy screws, and a couple of flimsy ribbon connectors to handle, so you have to be a little careful. Take your time, keep your little screws organized in the order you take them out, and it's a piece of cake. You'll need an anti-static wrist strap, a Philips #00 screwdriver, a Torx T6 screwdriver, and a strong thin plastic wedge tool for levering off the casing. I used a 1 mm guitar pick for that.

4. Once everything was back together, I booted up the computer, and checked to make sure it was working fine. I put the 120 GB drive into the external enclosure, and I'm going to keep the data on it until I'm really sure everything is working 100%. After about four weeks of using the computer, I have encountered no problems. Eventually I'll wipe the 120 GB and use it as a backup, or for offline storage.



NTFS Read/Write With Mac OSX

I have a couple of Macs at my home studio, and I also use a couple of PCs at my University office: one with Windoze, and one with Linux. So I have a bunch of files I need to access in two locations, and in three different operating systems. I got a small Seagate 120 GB USB drive to hold my stuff, and I carry it back and forth.

The catch: accessing these files from both Winduhs and Mac OSX. Winduhs doesn't have a clue what to do with a Mac-formatted drive. OSX will read and write with a FAT32-formatted volume, but that's limited by Winduhs to 32 GB in size, and that's not much use. In order to use a larger drive you need to format the drive as NTFS on a Windows machine. However, OSX will only read an NTFS file system - it won't write! Doh!

Solution: Macfuse and ntfs3g!

Step 1:
On the Windoze box, format the USB drive as NTFS.

Step 2:
Download and install macfuse from macfuse (on the Mac of course). This requires at least 10.4 (Tiger).

With my Macbook Pro, it seemed that macfuse was already installed (OSX 10.5 - Leopard).

Step 3:
Download and install ntfs3g from ntfs-3g (on the Mac).

That was easier than I figured. So far, it works fine.


Upgrading the studio

After a few years of putting it off, I finally have decided to upgrade the studio facilities.

Here is a list of the main new stuff:

  • MacBook Pro: 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, with Leopard (OSX 10.5)
  • MOTU's Digital Performer 5.13 (soon to obtain DP 6 - it was announced at NAMM January 18, 2008, but hasn't been released yet)
  • MOTU 896HD eight channel mic pre/firewire digital interface
  • Presonus DigiMax FS eight channel mic pre with optical interface
  • A bunch of hard drives to store the projects

16 channels of 24 bit, 96 kHz analogue-to-digital goodness!
I'm still doing some testing and rewiring. It works great so far!