Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Speeding Up the Old MAC Computer with an SSD

I have a MAC Mini that is about 3 years old, and seemed very slow.  This should not happen as it has a quad core i7, 16GB of memory, and a 1 TB disk.  I was getting frustrated and avoiding it, except for tasks where it had unique software, like iMovie.

In the past, I had good luck speeding up PCs with a solid state disk (SSD) to hold the operating system, so I thought this might be a good approach.

Unfortunately, aside from memory, MAC Mini's like most MACs are not easily upgraded.  You could disassemble the unit according to a Youtube video (moderate difficulty), add an SSD, and hope you did not break anything.  Alternately, you could use an external drive.  Given that I had a spare 120GB SSD and did not want to break the MAC, I went the external drive route.

Step 1  Get an SSD and High Quality USB 3.0 Enclosure

You need USB 3.0 for speed, and you don't want reliability issues in a disk drive, so get a high quality enclose, not one of those $8 specials.  I chose this Startech unit from Newegg, and it came with instructions, tools, cables, and is definitely high quality.  

Step 2 Assemble The Drive and Connect

It takes a few minutes to assemble the drive into the enclosure and hook it up to the MAC via USB.  

Step 3 Option 1 Partition Drive and Load OS

This is the traditional way to set up the new disk as the home OS disk.  It is covered well in this blog by a fellow blogger.

Step 3 Option 2 Use an App to Set Up Disk and Have a Fallback

I chose this route that allows you to set up the new disk as your home OS disk, but allows you to go back to using the old disk if something goes wrong.  It also automates the whole process.  The customer support was very good as well.

I purchased the SuperDuper! app for about $30.  The free version will not let you use the necessary features so a purchase is mandatory.  You select the "Sandbox Shared Users and Applications" option as shown below.  This will erase your new SSD, copy the OS and all applications to the SSD, and set it up as the boot drive.

The only extra step is to copy the "Shared" Folder from the old OS disk to the new one.  Use Finder, open the old disk, open the "users" folder, then copy the "Shared" folder to the "users" folder on your new SSD disk.  See below.

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