Mac hardware

Adding an SSD to a Mac Pro

Solid state drive prices have been plummeting over the past few months. I couldn’t resist buying a Crucial M4 128 GB drive for $129. This drive is highly regarded for its speed and reliability. Although my Mac Pro doesn’t have a SATA 3 interface to take full advantage of the M4’s speed, using an SSD still gives an appreciable speed boost when booting the machine and launching applications. Installing an SSD in a Mac Pro is straightforward. Here are the basic steps I took:

  1.  I installed the M4 in an Icy Dock. This dock is needed to accommodate the 2.5″ SSD in the Mac Pro’s 3.5″ hard drive bay. The Icy Dock was inexpensive and does the trick nicely.
  2. I ran TRIM Enabler to enable TRIM support for the M4. Note that both TRIM and TRIM Enabler are unsupported by Apple. Only Apple-installed SSDs support TRIM. So use it at your own risk. (TRIM keeps SSDs fast when overwriting deleted data.)
  3. I formatted the SSD using Disk Utility.
  4. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to copy the contents of my former boot drive, with the exception of my home directory. Most home directories contain too much data for a 128 GB SSD. Get a cup of coffee while copying your data. This will take a while.
  5. There are a couple of techniques to point the OS to your old home directory. The simplest method, which I used, is to change the home directory path in the Users and Groups preferences panel. Right-click the desired account to enter the Advanced Options panel.Screenshot of advanced user account settings in macOS, with home directory entry highlightedAn alternative method of pointing to your directory is to create symbolic links on the SSD that point to the home directory on the hard drive. For example:
    sudo ln -s  “/Volumes/Macintosh HD/Users/bobbyjoe” /Volumes/SSD/Users/bobbyjoe
    By setting up multiple symbolic links, you can configure which directories use SSD storage and which link back to your old hard drive. If you’re not comfortable on the command line, I’d recommend sticking with the simple preferences panel above.
  6. Now would be a good time to repair disk permissions on the SSD using Disk Utility.
  7. Select your SSD in the startup disk preferences panel and reboot!

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