If the original hard drive on your MacBook Pro is getting a little too full you can replace it with a much larger one pretty easily. After all, hard drives have gotten cheap with 1TB drives available for under $100.
If you want to give your aging machine an even bigger boost, I'd strongly suggest opting for a new SSD (flash) drive instead. With your system and apps on it, you can get work done much faster as everything will go from sluggish to snappy.
Either way you go the process is the same and, aside from one long data transfer you can sleep through, it only takes a few minutes.
Step 1: What you need
Here's the small list of hardware you need:
- new 2.5" HDD or SSD drive
- external 2.5" USB enclosure ($10)
- #00 Philips screwdriver
- T6 screwdriver
And 2 software options
- Carbon Copy Cloner - free for 30 days, $40 after
- SuperDuper! - free for basic use (all we need here) and $28 for full services
I've used both applications for this and both worked equally well for the basic application of hard drive cloning.
Step 2: Clone your hard drive
Now we're going to completely copy the hard drive in the MacBook Pro. Complete and total brain cloning. This process is an overnighter for sure. It took me 7 hours to copy over 400GB so plan on roughly 1GB per minute.
Put the new drive into the USB enclosure and plug it into your MacBook Pro. You'll probably need to use Disk Utility to format the new drive. I used MAC OS Extended (Journaled).
Fire up either CCC or SuperDuper! and follow the instructions to clone your computer onto the new drive. Since this is the basic use you shouldn't need to fiddle with the settings. Just hit go and leave it alone for a while.
Step 3: Open up your laptop
Here's your last chance to bail. Opening up your MacBook Pro opens you to the possibility of messing something up and voiding your warranty so if that bothers you you can just sit tight with what you have. But since you've already gotten this far you're probably both inclined to get it done AND have a machine past warranty anyway.
So shut down your laptop and flip it over. Use the #00 screwdriver to remove all the screws on the back. On my laptop there are 10 of them. Be sure to place them somewhere safe so they don't roll away into oblivion. These screws love oblivion.
With the panel removed you can see the hard drive. It's being held in place by 4 more screws. Remove those and you'll be able to lift up the hard drive and unplug it.
Remove the four posts on the side of the hard drive with the T6 screwdriver.
And that's it! Everything unscrewed and removed! Now let's put it back together again.
NOTE: your computer may be slightly different. If it is and you're afraid to go it alone, check out ifixit for more guides.
Step 4: Put it all back
Now we do everything in reverse.