Last Updated: 21 Nov 2020
Upgrading Your Mac's Internal Hard Drive, Including Boot Camp
This details how to upgrade your Mac's internal hard drive to a newer, larger drive. Instructions are also included for moving your Windows Boot Camp partition over to the new drive.
What you'll need:
- A new drive, which must be the same size or larger than your old drive. The exact drive you pick depends on your machine (laptop vs. desktop, etc.) and your needs. Browse through MacRumors Forums if you need help.
- Carbon Copy Cloner, which lets you 'clone' your old drive over to the new drive.
- WinClone, to copy the Boot Camp partition.
- An external USB enclosure if you're using a laptop, an iMac, a Mac mini, or any other machine that only supports one internal drive. You'll need to connect both the old and new drives simultaneously in order to perform the cloning operation. My favorite for doing drive surgery is the Thermaltake BlacX USB docking station, which lets you stick a bare drive in without screws.
- The tools necessary for physically replacing the drive. This guide covers the software side; be sure to read the appropriate iFixit guide for your model to learn how to actually physically replace your old drive with the new one. And, of course, the standard disclaimer: this probably will void your warranty. Argue with Apple about that.
Cloning the Mac OS X Disk
The first step is to clone your MacOS disk to the new, larger disk.
- Back everything up. This goes without saying, but you should have all of your files backed up to a third disk, which you will put aside and not touch during this process. I use Time Machine for this backup.
- Plug the new disk into your Mac. If you have a Mac Pro, you'll likely be able to connect it to one of the internal bays. If not, you'll have to get a USB enclosure, put the disk in that, and connect it up.
- Open Disk Utility, and locate the new drive. Partition it with a single partition, using MacOS Extended (Journaled). NOTE: Even if you're also migrating a Boot Camp partition, you want to partition with a single MacOS partition now. Later, you'll use the Boot Camp tools to carve off part of this new partition for Windows, and then restore your existing Boot Camp partition using WinClone.
- Reboot your machine. Technically this probably isn't necessary, but I like to have an absolute minimum of other applications running when I'm cloning my disk. You should not use your machine during the cloning process.
- Open Carbon Copy Cloner, and perform a full disk clone (the 'Backup everything' option) from your old disk to your new disk. This will take several hours to copy all the data. I recommend you click 'Delete items that don't exist on the source' so you get an exact clone.
- If you also want to migrate your Windows Boot Camp partition, create an image of that partition once Carbon Copy Cloner has finished. Open WinClone, click on the 'Image' tab, select the Boot Camp partition, and hit 'Image…'. You should be sure to save the image on your new disk, because you're about to get rid of your old one. Again, make sure you start this step AFTER Carbon Copy Cloner is completely done; you should only have one cloning program running at once.
- Turn off your machine and swap the new disk for the old disk. Doing the physical swap usually isn't too hard, but the details depend on what Mac you have. Once again, iFixIt has some great guides.
- That's it! Once the disk is swapped and the old disk is removed, boot up onto your fresh disk!
Cloning the Boot Camp Partition
The following steps are optional, and only needed if you want to clone your Boot Camp partition as well.
- By now, you should have installed and booted from your new disk, and have an image of your Windows Boot Camp partition on your new hard drive, created with WinClone. Your old disk should no longer be connected to your machine. If not, go back through and follow the steps above.
- Partition your new disk using the Boot Camp Assistant. Make sure your new Boot Camp partition is at least as big as your old partition. When you're done partitioning, quit the program rather than starting Windows installation.
- Load up WinClone again, and click 'Restore' to restore the image to the drive. A word of warning: WinClone may not look like its doing anything for 15-30 mins, but it is. Eventually the restore progress bar will come up.
- Once this is done, you should be able to use the Startup Disk control panel to boot into either Windows or Mac OS X. Try it and make sure both work.
- If you're also using VMWare Fusion, your new Boot Camp partition won't load. Close VMWare, delete
~/Library/Application Support/VMWare Fusion/Virtual Machines/Boot Campand reopen VMWare. You'll be able to load your Boot Camp partition after a short prep.
That's it! Feel free to add suggestions to the comments, and enjoy your new drive.