Moving to an SSD Drive

I bought a Crucial M4 256 GB Solid State Drive a while ago and very briefly tried it in my old desktop (that originally shipped with Vista).  I wasn’t all that impressed so I thought I’d put it in my MacBook Pro instead.  I finally got around to doing so.

I created a backup of the original Hitachi 500 GB drive.  I used Carbon Copy Cloner to make an incremental backup of the OS X partition and Winclone to make a backup of my Windows Boot Camp partition.

Swapping the drives was easy but I did have to go out and buy a T6 torx screwdriver.  (Thank you You Tube for telling me what it was.)  I booted onto the bootable external drive made by CCC, formatted the SSD and restored the image to it.  It took me a little while to figure out which image I was supposed to restore (because I didn’t back it up where I thought I did) but I got it in the end.  The OS X part seemed to go well.  The one caveat is that I had to input my serial number into Microsoft Office for Mac again.

Restoring the Windows partition was a lot more involved.  All told, I did it something like 6 times.  The method I ended up using was to use Boot Camp to create a partition.  Part of my many trials was due to the partition needing to be equal to or greater than the saved image size (not the file size, but the original partition size).  I learned 64 GB on the Hitachi 500 GB is not equal to 64 GB on the Crucial 256 GB drive as far as Boot Camp Assistant is concerned.  You’d think it would be but I swear it’s not.

I made a 66 GB partition and booted into it using the Windows CD.  I used that CD to format the drive in NTFS, then exited setup.  Once back in OS X, I used Winclone to restore the image.  Upon booting into Boot Camp, Windows ran chkdsk and reparsed a few things.  I’d like to know why it had to but I really have no idea.  Despite that, going into Windows worked just fine through Boot Camp.

The problem I then faced was the inability to launch the Windows installation in VirtualBox.  It gave me a couple of different errors.  Rebooting the machine narrowed it down to one error – Windows (DOS) telling me there was a disk read error.  I revisited the steps to make the Boot Camp partition work in VirtualBox in the first place (see link above) but couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  I then finally figured it out.

I removed the virtual machine from VirtualBox then deleted Win7onMBP (created in step 8 of the directions).  I proceeded with changing the drive permissions (step 9) and dismounting the drive (step 10).  I then skipped to the beginning of step 15, making a new VirtualBox machine.  After step 15-C, I then put the two files needed into the Win7onMBP directory that VirtualBox automatically created when I named the machine in step 15-B.  The directions for creating the two files were at step 12.

That was the key, the files needed to be rebuilt.  After completing the owner change (step 13), I could then continue with the rest of step 15.  Once I started it up, it FINALLY ran.  It’s satisfying when something finally works.

I had to follow the directions out of sequence because when I tried to do them in order, VirtualBox complained about the name already existing and belonging to another machine because the directory existed.  Letting VirtualBox create the directory solved the problem.

The only other change I made was in Settings -> Storage -> win7raw.vmdk and checked Solid-state drive.

The speed of the SSD in OS X did improve after the upgrade but it isn’t jaw dropping.  I don’t need a stopwatch to tell it’s better but I wouldn’t say it’s twice as fast in my normal use of my web browsing and what-not.  A cold boot to desktop went from 59 seconds to 54 seconds.  Launching Firefox with way too many tabs open (i.e. more than 30) went from 1:47 to 1:05.  Opening Chrome with around 8 tabs went from 0:23 to 0:13.  All in all I would say it’s worth it if you want to try to get better performance at a reasonable price and if you can sacrifice the space.