It took a new laptop, 3 or 4 trips of cracking open the case, and almost a year– but I finally have my old (2009 Mid Year) Mac Book Pro running from a Solid State Drive (SSD). And like I was told, the speed difference in that machine is remarkable. Startup time was about 4 minutes, now about 45 seconds. It no longer beachballs on everything.

The trip started maybe in April 2013; after a visit to Hong Kong, my colleague Ross Parker suggested via twitter a suggestion to give my machine a boost- get a new SSD drive and mount it inside the machine in the optical drive bay using an MCE Technologies Opti-Bay. The idea is you remove the optical drive and out it inside a USB case, making it an external, and putting a new drive inside a caddy that took it’s place.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I got all the parts last September, but it never seemed the right time to possible put my one working machine up on the racks.

I got around to it in November, and felt confident I had followed all the steps, and was amazed I was able to get those tiny screws back in that hold the optical bay caddy:

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

But alas, when I booted up the computer (from its old Hard drive still in there), it never recognized the new drive.

Some research suggested that replacing the ribbon cable might be the answer. I ordered one. And it sat on my desk a long while.

A former colleague (I hired Derek as a student programmer at Maricopa) who is a Mac guru had told me that if the new drive was a 6 Gb/S speed drive, that the optical drive connector could not read it, and I was better off putting it in the primary drive slot.

It made sense… but also seemed like a lot of potential for me ending up with a blinking question mark for a system.

So I put it off.

And saw a lot of beachballs.

A lot.

In April, I finally decided, after reading the specs on the newer machine, that maybe it was better of me to invest in a computer made in 2014, rather than relying on a 5 year old one.

These decisions feel much different from when your work pays for your computers. This was a big chunk of my change. But it’s also my primary means of making money. And tax deductible.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

So I ordered this new 13″ MacbookPro… and I just love this machine and the choice I made. It’s like going from a tricycle to a racing motorcycle.

But the old machine still had some possible use, and I did have the 256 Gb SSD drive. My own idea was to slim the machine down- I pulled off all the data files (a lot was form ds106), all of the video and audio, and a whole raft of apps I would not need on it. I got the whole thing down to about 119 Gb which could all live on the SSD.

Just in case the HDD did not show up, I made a copy of the main drive using Carbon Copy Cloner and stored it on the 3 TB drive I use for backups. I became a big fan of that program.

Then I cracked the machine open again, pulled out the SSD from the Opti-Bay, and swapped it for the HDD. I felt like perhaps I did not have the drive firmly seated in the Optibay drive. I got everything switched, screwed back in. But on startup, using the option key when starting (usually to select a startup disk, if the HDD was there I could boot from that), and all I got was grey.

See, I knew this would happen.

Another idea. Reboot the old machine in Target disk mode (hold down the T when starting up) so it’s drive acts like just an external drive. I connected it via Firewire (and Yet Another Apple Dongle) to the new machine.

That was good news- it saw a new unformatted drive (the new SSD), and I was able to reformat it using Disk Utility. Then, from the new machine, I could plug in the external drive, and run Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the system from the backup drive to the new SSD.

It took more than an hour… but it worked. And wow, did the old machine boot up fast.

My goal is to use it more for audio apps- broadcasting to ds106 radio and digitizing my vinyl records (the new MBP lacks a line in input, and last time I tried I got a lot of interference using an iMic). I copied my iTunes music back on to the SSD. I’m not quite sure how I will use the new old computer. But at least it functions reasonable.

I feel now the Opti-Bay enclosure is a problem; I’ve come across claims elsewhere. And the machine still has a 320 Gb HDD inside of it doing nothing.

But that will do for now. I’m glad I did this as I have a better understanding what’s under the keyboard.

Cross this project off the list!

As a bit of insight, I was able to track my own story, and get most of the dates of events because I have flickr photos of various steps in the process. My friend Derek even asked me about the speed of the HDD I had moved… but I had no idea how to get it’s specs since its’s sealed inside the computer. But I did find a photo when I had put that drive in the old computer, and was able to get the model number from my photo.

A photo history of myself comes in handy all the time.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Well done, glad your persistence with this project paid off! My kids are using 3 older Macbook Pro laptops so I’m very interested in possibly doing the same thing at some point… If you were going to do it again, would you go with the same enclosure or a different one?

    1. I would not use the enclosure, mine does not work. Some forum posts I read reported similar problems. but an easier route is to clone the main drive, and just swap in a big enough SSD for what you think they need to store on board.

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