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Swapping Hard Drives on the 13-Inch MacBook

A step by step guide to replacing the stock drive By Dave Nagel
Sixty gigabytes don't amount to much in this day and age. That's the size of the drive that comes stock in the 13-inch (white) MacBook. So it's likely you'll want to replace it for something larger and, possibly, faster. Here's a step by step guide for doing just that.

Apple's made the process of swapping hard drives extremely simple in the 13-inch MacBook--just about as easy as replacing memory. But you will need a few things to get you started.

1. A flat-head screwdriver, coin or high level of dexterity with your fingernails (to open up the battery case).
2. A tiny Phillips-head screwdriver to open up the plate inside the battery case. This is apparently a size 00 Phillips screwdriver.
3. A Torx screwdriver (size T-8) for removing the drive from its bracket. Note that many Torx drivers have magnetized heads. Try to avoid using magnets around a hard drive, as they can cause damage and loss of data.

Before you get started, make sure you've powered down your machine and removed the power cord and allowed the machine to cool down for about 10 minutes before proceeding. Also, back up all important data on your existing hard drive in case you need it later or in case something goes wrong when you're putting in the new one. If possible, you might want to store your current drive as a disk image on an external drive or on a networked machine so that you can migrate your settings to your new drive later. (To create an image of your current drive, launch Disk Utility, then create a new image using the tools in there. To restore data later on, mount the disk image on your external drive, and then use the Migration Assistant application to transfer your data. You will not be able to restore a disk image using the MacBook's Installer discs. The version of Disk Tools that comes on the Installer disc doesn't allow restoration for whatever bizarre and frustrating reason.)

Once you're all set with everything disconnected and all your important data backed up, you're ready to begin.

Step 1: remove the battery
To begin, insert a flat-head screwdriver or coin or other convenient artifact into the slot on the back of your MacBook, and turn it to the unlocked position. Remove the back plate. Your battery is attached to this plate.

Step 2: remove the L plate
Now, with your battery removed, you'll see an L-shaped plate with three screws. Loosen these screws with your Phillips-head screwdriver. They will not come out all the way. Note that it is very easy to strip these screws, particularly the one on the right, which seems to be universally lodged in there tighter than the others. So be careful when removing these screws.

Once you've loosened them completely, you can remove the L-shaped plate.

Once the plate is removed, touch something metal inside the computer in case you have any static electricity stored up in that body of yours.

Step 3: remove the hard drive
Once you've removed the plate, you'll see the slots for RAM right in front of you. To the left is where the hard drive is located. There's a little plastic tab folded under the drive. Use a fingernail or screwdriver to unfold this plastic tab.

Now simply grab hold of the tab and gently pull it to slide the hard drive out.

Step 4: disconnect the drive from the bracket
Your hard drive is connected to a bracket. You'll need to disconnect it from this bracket and then place your new drive in the bracket. To disconnect it, use your Torx screwdriver to remove the four screws that attach it to the bracket. There are two screws on each side of the drive.

Once you've removed the drive, set it aside in a safe place.

The safest place is inside the anti-static bag that your new drive shipped in. Make sure you handle the drive gently to avoid damage.

Step 5: attach the new drive to the bracket
Now you can insert your new drive into the bracket, just as the old one was attached. Place it in the bracket with the logic board facing into the bracket (in other words, label-side up) and the interface facing away from the plastic tab. (Note that the use of a Travelstar in the images below is not an endorsement. I'll review this drive separately.)

Line up the holes in the bracket with the screw holes in your new drive. Then screw in the four screws you removed previously.

Step 6: insert the drive
Now just slide in the new drive and bracket into the slot from which you removed the old drive. Slide it in gently with the bracket side up. It doesn't require an inordinate amount of pressure to get it attached properly (unlike RAM modules, which really take some muscle). Tuck the plastic tab under the drive as you insert it.

Step 7: re-attach the L plate
Now re-attach the L plate you removed earlier. Insert the short end of the plate first, and then push it in the rest of the way.

Use your Phillips-head screwdriver to screw the plate back in, once again being extremely careful not to strip the screws.

Step 8: close 'er up
Now just slip the battery back in. Place the end with the battery's connector in first, and slide the battery in. Push the back cover down so that it's flush with the back of your MacBook, and turn the slot back to the lock position.

Now you're ready to fire up your machine again.

If you have any questions, be sure to drop me a line or visit me in one of the forums listed below.

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Related Keywords:macbook, swap drives, hard drive, replace hard drive, 13 inch, apple

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