Macbook Pro Hard Drive Upgrade – My Trials and Tribulations

I decided that it was time to look at upgrading my Hitachi 250GB hard drive that shipped with my Macbook Pro in 2009.  The original drive, although reliable was running out of space and was a SATA2 / 5200rpm model.  I wanted faster, more, better!

I did my customary research at my local computer supply stores and decided on going with a new Seagate Momentus XT 500GB / 7200rpm drive.  This drive is unique in that it is a hybrid SATA2 / SSD drive with 4GB Flash.  I was excited as this drive should really be a major improvement.

I decided to purchase one from a newly opened store in Richmond, Memory Express.  They were very helpful and had one of the 500GB drives in stock.  I paid the bill and headed home, drive in hand planning out my afternoon of performing surgery on my Macbook Pro.

I opened up my Macbook Pro and easily replaced my original Hitachi 250GB drive with the new Seagate 500GB one.  Everything was put back together, where the computer was then booted up on my Snow Leopard Install DVD.

Once at the installation screen, I selected the Disk Utility program to repartition and format my new drive.  It is essential that the new drive be partitioned GUID as this is the proper mode to support Snow Leopard on an Intel based Mac.

The formatting completed successfully and I was informed that I had just under 500GB of available, formatted space.

This all appeared to be completely positive and I then proceeded to restore my original system information to my new 500GB hard drive using the Time Machine system backup I had taken the day before.  This backup was on my external 250GB USB drive and was immediately recognized by the Snow Leopard restore option.

It was here that I saw the first indication of a problem.

My system indicated that the restore was going to take over 8 hours to complete which was completely unrealistic.  It had only taken three hours to backup.

I decided to go to bed and check on the system in the morning.

I woke next morning and to my dismay saw that my system was hung and had not completed the restore successfully.  I was really concerned about this and decided to reboot once again and attempt to install the Mac OS X operating system on the drive independently of the system restore.  This also proved to be unsuccessful as the system continued to hang at or around the 27% completed stage.

I Googled the errors that were captured in the installation logs and was shocked to find many references from others who had the same symptoms and experiences as I was now noting myself.  There are rampant reports of Seagate Momentus and Momentus XT drive failures during installation on Mac OS X.

With the number of reported problems, I decided to return the Seagate drive and instead purchase a new Hitachi 500GB 7200rpm replacement drive.

I again performed the necessary surgery to open up my system, remove the Seagate 500GB drive and install the new, Hitachi 500GB drive.  Rebooting once again from the installation DVD, I partitioned and reformatted this drive successfully.  It also reported the same about of formatted space as the Seagate did.  I selected the ‘Restore from Time Machine Backup’ option and successfully restored my system in about three hours.

I have been running on the new Hitachi for about three days now and am happy to report that it is as reliable and consistent as my previous drive.  My system is snappier, booting up quicker and performing most file operations noticeably faster.

I guess there are reasons that Apple primarily selects Hitachi as their drive supplier for their systems.  Hitachi has always had a stellar reputation and based on my personal experience, I would tend to agree.

About Grant Fengstad

I’m a technology professional in the travel and transportation sector and have been very involved with the Internet for over 20 years.