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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Migrating my Mac with Lion and Windows 7 to a new hard drive

So as a treat to myself (and for a productivity boost) I decided to upgrade my mac book pro's hard drive to a seagate momentus XT 500GB hybrid drive.

Basically it's a 7200 rpm drive with a 4gb solid state bit that acts like a big cache.

Now I've never done this before so it was quite an interesting experience, here's how I did it.

Requirements:
1. Caddy for old hard drive, I used a USB SATA caddy, you'll need this to copy your data
2. Two writable CD store the firmware on and recovery software
3. Tools (see the ifixit guides for which ones)
4. A copy of OS X Lion burnt to dvd/usb stick (see http://osxdaily.com/2011/07/08/make-a-bootable-mac-os-x-10-7-lion-installer-from-a-usb-flash-drive/)
5. An external drive or a bunch of DVDs to store your windows backup on
6. Filevault is disabled (I didn't want to try this with it enabled)

The process:
1. Backup Lion using time machine.
2. Backup windows using some great software I found paragon backup and recovery free (http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/index.html) it's the only one I tried that would backup and restore windows on bootcamp successfully (more on that later), and create a backup recovery CD.
3. Download the latest firmware for the hard drive from seagate, this is quite important since they're have been problems with older firmware, at time of writing S28 is the current version. (http://seagate.custkb.com/seagate/crm/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=215451)
4. Burn the iso downloaded to a CD
5. Following the guides at http://ifixit.com swap the hard drives, putting the old one in a usb/firewire/thunderbolt caddy (is there a thunderbolt caddy yet?) in my case I used USB, if you're lucky and have a unibody mac IMHO changing the hard drive is easy. If you have an older model it's more fiddly (I have an older model)
6. Once swapped I the drives around and put the laptop back together I booted up from the Lion usb stick and installed a fresh copy of Lion on the entire drive, this ensures the recovery partition works
7. Boot into the recovery partition, plug in your old hard drive and then use disk utility to clone over the partition, you should then run first aid on the partition to make sure there's no errors.
8. Boot into your OS X partition you just cloned as normal (you can unplug your old drive at this point you won't be using it again)
9. Run boot camp wizard create as much space as you want as long as it's big enough to hold your old windows partition, before rebooting insert the paragon recovery CD.
10. Boot into the paragon recovery CD then plug in your windows backup drive.
11. Run the recovery wizard just follow the default steps and restore to the "BOOTCAMP" partition
12. Reboot, eject the recovery CD, unplug the windows backup drive and you're done.

You can then enable file vault again if you wish.

As for the backup software I tried the following:

  • Windows 7 Backup - Easy to use, backs up great, one problem the restore function requires restoring the whole disk not just the partition so it nukes the OS X partition.
  • Acronis True Image Home 2010 - Again easy to use, backs up great, nice compression, however restoring doesn't work as well it doesn't restore/fix the boot loader so you get unable to boot messages and then the windows 7 repair cd can't find the partition so it can't be repaired easily
  • Lastly I tried Paragon backup free - Backups up easily, sadly it can only take full images (I think), it has good compression and comes with a recovery cd that fixes the boot loaders and master boot record, it restores perfectly even to different sized partitions (and it's free!)

Summary:

I've been using the drive for a few days, performance is incredible compared to my old 5400 rpm drive, it tool 30 minutes to install Windows 7. It takes less than 20 seconds to boot up into mac or windows and have it usable.
Running 4 virtual machines using disk heavy operations no longer causes my laptop to crawl.

All in all I'm very happy.