How to Migrate your System to an SSD

Mac OS X Setup

Mac OS X Setup

Apple is usually very strict on user upgrades. For example, the iMac and MacBook Air both have hard disks that are not intended for users to upgrade on their own. Things are more relaxed with the MacBook Pro as they allow users to upgrade both the memory and hard disk.

Migrating your system installation is considerably easier on a Mac as there’s less preparatory work and it’s also easier to get everything reconfigured and sorted out once the SSD is successfully cloned.

Preparatory Work

Apart from your SSD, you should ideally also have an external hard drive enclosure. This enclosure will house the SSD as you prepare to clone your existing hard drive. The next thing you need is a hard disk cloning utility and we recommend using the very excellent (and free) SuperDuper! cloning utility. Before you begin the cloning process, it's a good idea to use Time Machine to create a backup in case anything goes wrong.

 SuperDuper! is a free to download basic cloning utility that will be good enough for our needs.

Cloning Your Hard Disk (if your SSD is larger or the same capacity as your existing HDD)

SuperDuper! is a cloning utility that will make a carbon copy of your source drive. Right at the top of the app, next to the "Copy" drop-down list, select your existing hard drive; and next to the "To" drop-down list, select the SSD you want to clone your hard drive to. If your new SSD is of the same capacity or larger than your existing hard drive, simply choose "Backup - all files". This will create a carbon copy of your hard drive on your new SSD which you can boot from later.

If your new SSD is larger or of the same capacity as your existing hard drive, select Backup - all files and let the app do its thing.

Depending on the number of apps you have and the speed of your drive, it can take anywhere from around 30 minutes to hours. 


Cloning Your Hard Disk (if your SSD has less capacity than your existing HDD)

However, if your SSD is of a smaller capacity than your existing hard drive, then you’ll want to leave out your Home folder from your source drive. By default, the Home folder stores all your files such as documents and music that are not essential to making your SSD bootable.

To leave out your Home folder, follow these steps:

1. Create a new "Copy Script" under the "using" drop-down list. You will be prompted for a Description - call it anything you like. Next click on the "Script Commands" tab above.

Give it a description and then click on the "Script Commands" tab.

 2. Now, in the bottom left hand corner is a menu of your folders. Scroll until you find "Users".

Scroll until you find the folder "Users". Inside you will find your user files, such as documents and music, which are not required to make your SSD bootable.

3. Click on it, and in the column to the right you will see its contents. Double-click on your Home folder. In this case, mine’s labeled "Kenny". You will now see an entry in the list above. Under "Command" select "Ignore". Click on "Close" in the bottom right hand corner. You will be prompted to save this script. Click "Save" and give the script a name.

Doing this will leave out your Home folder from the cloning process.

4. You will now be directed back to the main menu. You should now see the script that you’ve just created in the "using" drop-down list. It will appear under "Custom Scripts". Select that and begin the cloning process.

You should now see the new Copy Script that you have created in the drop-down list.

Alternatively, if you don’t mind not having your documents and music copied over to your new SDD. You can navigate to the specific folders where you keep them and omit them using the steps shown above.

Depending on the number of applications you have, the process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to hours. Once the cloning is done, you may physically remove your old hard disk from your Macbook Pro and install the new SSD.