Mac Mini (Apple) SSD upgrade howto

Replacing Mac Mini Hard Drive with SSD, and New ML Install

9 Replies Latest reply: Dec 22, 2014 3:37 AM by RobotMe

Markus1379 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

I have a mid-2011 Mac Mini, and it has been running very sluggish, even when there are multiple free GB of RAM and the processor is only at 10 to 20% of capacity. I ran TechTool Pro 6 to do a scan of the whole machine, and it didn’t detect anything out of the ordinary.


At this point I am guessing that it’s probably a software issue. I have tons of processes running in the background all the time, and have installed hundreds of programs over the last two years, so it could be anything number of things that are somehow messing up Mountain Lion.


So, I would like to replace the 500GB internal hard drive with a 120GB SSD Drive (Samsung 840 Series), and put a fresh install of Mountain Lion on the SSD, put the 500GB in an external enclosure, and see if that fixes the problem.


Can someone explain the best way for me to do this, in a step by step list?


I can figure out how to accomplish each step, I just need some overall guidance as to how I should approach the whole thing.


Thanks very much!



Some other notes:


  • I have a 3 TB hard drive that I can use to back up everything on the 500 GB hard drive, but I’m assuming that time machine isn’t the best way to back everything up, since I won’t be able to restore the machine on the 120GB drive that I want to boot from.


  • Normally, I would get the internal 500GB down to 100GB of data, and then clone it on the SSD, and make the swap, but I’m assuming that cloning the drive will potentially replicate the source of the slowness, so I’m assuming that isn’t the best way to proceed.

Mac mini, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3)
This solved my question Solvedby keg55 on May 8, 2013 12:16 PM

Regarding restoring the software from the time machine backup of the old HD, is there any important difference between restoring software from time machine, as opposed to restoring software using the migration assistant?

With the Migration Assistant, I don’t think you can pick and choose what you want to move over. For example, you may not want to move ALL your Downloads folder over, but only a few files. MA will migrate the whole folder’s content. Since you have your old drive attached externally, go into the Macintosh HD and grab the files you want to copy onto the SSD.



Regarding creating a Fusion drive, I read that is technically only supported by the 2012 Mac minis. You can do it on the older macs, but you have to get into the Terminal and do some under the hood stuff, which is right at the edge of my skill level.

The Terminal commands are very simple to use and well documented. I’m not proficient at Terminal myself and I just made sure I followed what was documented. There are also some videos on YouTube on this.


If you’re running 10.8.3 from a FULL installer instead of updating from 10.8.2, the version of Disk Utility needed to automatically create the Fusion drive is there. That version is 13 (444). This is exactly what I did after 10.8.3 was released. My Mac Mini came with Mountain Lion 10.8.1 installed so after 10.8.3 was released I restarted into Internet Recovery (OS X Utilities menu for 10.8.3) and used Disk Utility which showed my SSD and HDD needed to be fixed and it automatically created the Fusion drive. Then I  Reinstalled Mac OS X which downloaded and installed 10.8.3 to my Fusion drive. After the install and during setup, I used Setup Assistant and migrated everything over to the Fusion drive.


No need to decide now about using a Fusion drive. Because you would need to purchase the tools (Mac Mini dual drive kit) and pull apart the Mac Mini to install the 2nd drive. All of this might be too complicated.


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