About a month back Hitachi released a 320 GB 7200 RPM laptop drive. The new drive offered me 60% more space (the difference between having a mostly-full hard drive and a half-full drive) plus modestly better throughput and lower power consumption. What's not to like?
Well, the migration path! Here it is:
1. Run my normal incremental backup of the 200GB drive to my external back-up hard drive using Retrospect Express. I like it 'cause it does a real file-by-file verification.
(Now the laptop has to go completely off-line or I'll lose data coherency.)
2. Use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the 200 GB drive to my external drive. Belt and suspenders, because from this point I'm working without a net.
3. Boot up from the external drive. (Y'all make your external backup drive bootable, right?) Secure-erase and reformat the 200 GB drive, because I'm going to sell it.
4. Open up the Macbook Pro, swap in the new 320 GB drive, and close up the box.
5. Boot up from the external drive and partition and format the 320 GB drive.
6. Use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the former contents of the 200 GB drive to the 320 GB drive.
7. If all has gone well, the 320 GB drive boots like it's supposed to, and I can bring the laptop back online.
It's time consuming and a little nerve-racking.
Just about the time I was getting ready to order the 320 GB drive, Other World Computing offered me a Newer Tech Universal Drive Adapter. The $30 UDA connects any standard or laptop sized IDE/ATA/SATA bare-bones drive to a USB2 port. The Universal Drive Adapter includes a power supply and all the data and power connectors needed to operate an internal hard drive externally.
Left: Here's the Universal Drive Adapter, aglow with power and data. There's
nothing fancy about it, but there doesn't have to be to do the job.
Other World Computing also sent me a couple of their $10 ProtectaDrive silicone rubber sleeves, designed to protect a bare-bones drive from shock, electricity, and static discharge. Nice!
Suddenly, life was a lot simpler. I took my machine off-line, hooked up the new 320 GB drive via the UDA, rebooted from my external drive and used Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the 200 GB drive directly to the 320 GB drive.
This is the setup I used to migrate the contents of my laptop's internal drive to the new drive. On the left is the power supply for the bare-bones 320 GB drive, next to it the drive in a ProtectaDrive sleeve, and connecting that to the Macbook Pro's USB2 port is the Universal Drive Adapter. On the right is my bootable backup drive, plugged into the laptop's FireWire 800 port.
I set the 320 GB drive to be the new startup disk, leaving it attached to the UDA (Intel Macs can boot off of USB drives). Rebooting the system confirmed that the 320 GB drive was operational and bootable. Then I opened up the machine and swapped hard drives, closed everything up, and brought the system back online.
It's a lot less complicated than the old scheme. Plus, I can hang onto my 200 GB drive with data intact for long enough to be sure that the new drive is happy. Once I'm confident of the new drive's reliability, I'll hook up the 200 GB drive with the UDA, scrub it, and sell it.
The Universal Drive Adapter worked perfectly. Of course, it only works at USB speeds and on most computers those are pretty bad; on this Macbook Pro it's a paltry 18 MB/sec, which means it takes several hours to migrate all the data. Overnight's a good time. It'll take a very long time to do a secure scrub of the old drive, but it won't take my attention or require shutting down the system.
Two design issues:
• The short SATA cable included has the wrong connector orientation on one end, so you have to put a half twist in that very stiff cable to have both the drive and the UDA right side up.
• The plugs on the SATA power and data connectors are about half a millimeter too wide; you can't fit them onto the closely spaced connectors on the hard drive without forcing things a lot more than I'm comfortable with. Fortunately the connector housings are soft plastic and a minute's work with a hobby knife trimmed the width enough so they fit on with no trouble. Hopefully Other World Computing will see fit to redesign the SATA cables in the next product run to eliminate both of these problems.
All in all, a cost/time-effective solution to migrating data from one drive to another. Hurrah, OWC!