Instructions for Swapping Out a Macbook Pro’s Hard Drive

Have you ever had a hard drive crash? I have. To tell my tale:

One Saturday night, I shut down my Apple Macbook Pro in late 2009. It was too late to wait for the computer to sleep and have the front indicator light blink before I turned it off. I flipped my laptop onto its right side without waiting for the hard disk to stop spinning. Apple’s support page says the answer is an emphatic “NO.” Wait for the light to pulsate, and let the hard drive disks slow down.

The following morning, I awoke eager to continue working on the photography website I had begun the day before. When my Macbook Pro booted up normally, I assumed everything was fine. Then, a file I was editing in Adobe Lightroom disappeared. It prompted me to select a location to store my current files. “You do have a place, you moron,” I told myself. “It’s called the hard drive.” When something didn’t function properly, I did what I always do and start over, and what I saw after that has never left my head. The terrifying QUESTION MARK and FLASHING FOLDER. Something is awry, as Apple would put it. Later, an Apple “Genius” would inform me the problem was with my hard drive (HDD). Without sending my computer to a data recovery firm, he demanded about $200 plus tax to fix it, and I still couldn’t access my data. NO WAY!

So, I did it myself and retrieved all of my data for under a hundred dollars. How? Read on!

1. Place an order with Newegg or Amazon for a replacement hard drive. I already had a Seagate 500 GB 2.5 SATA 7,200 rpm drive, so I just installed that.

2) Get a sled on the way. A sled is an HDD container that can be used to build an external hard disk drive. These are also available in vast quantities on Amazon.

Third, a #00 Phillips, a T6 Torx screwdriver, and a set of mini screwdrivers will be required. Groups of these can be purchased from retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, etc.

Put your Macbook Pro on a metal surface to discharge static electricity before touching the device. Doing so will eliminate any static charge.

Fifth, flip it over and remove every screw, marking their locations as you go.

If you turn your laptop so that the screen is facing away from you, the hard drive will be on the bottom right. Remove the black mounting bracket from the top of the hard disk by unscrewing it.

7 Carefully remove the cable from the right side of the drive where it connects.

Remove the four screws that secure the drive to the wall and set them aside.

Install the new hard drive by removing the packaging and using the four included screws.

Ten. Hook up the new hard drive to the computer.

11 – Secure the wall bracket.

Twelve, reattach the Macbook Pro’s lid and screws.

Press the power button on the back of your computer and flip it over.

14—Slot in the Mac OS X installation disc. To restart your computer while holding the C key, press the power button and hold it until the computer shuts down.

15 The OS X installation screen will appear. From the main menu, select DISK UTILITY, then the new hard drive. Just go ahead and remove everything and divide it up, whatever you choose. One is all I need. Let’s call this new disk drive Macintosh HD.

You have successfully formatted a disk (16). Return to the main menu and continue the OS X installation as directed. You can choose to restore from a Time Machine backup at this stage.

Plug the sled into your old HDD and connect the USB cord to your computer after reinstalling the operating system. You may be able to retrieve part or all of your data if it mounts and appears in your finder. Use a drag-and-drop operation to transfer your data from the old hard drive to the new one.

Well, that settles it. Easily understood. However, there are a few pitfalls to avoid.


Remember to use the operating system installation disk that corresponds to your current system when restoring from a Time Machine backup. You CANNOT use Leopard or Tiger to perform a restore from an old hard drive that previously contained Snow Leopard. It is mandatory to utilize the Snow Leopard installation DVD.

Check out my online portfolios: Passport Food by Taylor Young and Photographs by Taylor Young.

Read also: