Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hot Fusion

The destiny of man is to unite not to divide - Merlin (The Once and Future King)

Mrs Chaos' 2011 MacBook Pro was feeling slow and running out of space on its 256GB drive. Wedding videos and baby photos on our bajillion megapixel camera take up a lot of space. Apps don't quite launch fast enough and when Time Machine kicks off her HD emits and audible churning noise. How to solve? I'd been eyeballing getting her a new computer, but she doesn't really need one exactly, so it's a lotta mula. Better solution? SSD.

To replace her HD with a 512GB or larger SSD? Moneysplosion. Instead I decided to get a kit where I could move her current HD into the optical drive slot and then add a second SSD drive. Under this plan I could give her a 256GB SSD and she would still have the 256GB spinning platter and then everyone wins.

This upgrade is not for the weak of heart. Swapping out the laptop HD is straightforward. If the idea of cracking open your laptop doesn't scare you, than you can probably handle changing out the hard drive. But swapping out the optical drive for a hard drive? That involves disconnecting a lot of intricate things (speaker, camera, bluetooth antenna) and removing a couple dozen tiny tiny screws that are each slightly different than others and need to go back precisely the same slots as they came out.

It took around an hour, but the swap went just fine and the computer happily booted up.




My initial plan was to give Mrs.Chaos two volumes to work with: one as her fast SSD for most things and the second of the spinning platter to the videos and photo. My Nerd Core slowly-but-surely talked me into a merging them together in an Apple Fusion Drive. One of the main things MrsChaos does is iPhoto, and so they pointed out that if I make her put the iPhoto library on the spinning disk, I haven't solved one of the main performance issues.

Fusing the drives was easy. I installed a fresh copy of Mavericks and then did a user migration from a Super Duper! backup and the computer was back and working. The verdict is still out whether Mrs.Chaos thinks it "feels faster" but I have the faith.