How to upgrade a Mac to an SSD drive and transfer data

Upgrading your Mac Mini or MacBook Pro to an SSD drive can significantly improve performance. Below are the steps to upgrade Mac to SSD drive and transfer data to a new SSD drive on Mac.

Upgrade Mac to a new SSD drive

The main concern when upgrading Mac to SSD drive is the possibility of data loss and how to safely transfer data to a new SSD drive on Mac.

Luckily, macOS software offers multiple data transfer methods and you can choose between Time Machine, Migration Assistant or the cloning method to safely transfer data to a new SSD drive.

Perhaps the easiest way to transfer data from Mac to a new SSD drive is to use Time Machine, unless you have an older Mac running macOS High Sierra or macOS Mojave.

In this case, the external hard drive will be formatted as an extended journal and cannot be used for Time Machine backups (on older Macs, you must use the cloning method).

1. Create a Time Machine backup on an external hard drive

The first step is to back up all the data and programs on your computer to an external hard drive using Time Machine Backup.

1. Connect External hard drive to your Mac’s USB port.

2. Click on that Apple logo and click system settings in the drop down menu.

Open System Preferences on Mac

3. On the System Settings screen, click time Machine.

Time Machine option on Mac

4. Check on the next screen Show Time Machine in the menu bar option and click Select Backup Disk… Button.

Choose the Time Machine Backup Disk option on Mac

5. On the next screen, select yours backup disk and click Use disk Button.

Choose External Drive for Time Machine backups on Mac

6.. If the selected disk is not formatted, you will be prompted to erase the disk first. Click on Extinguish Continue.

Prompt to erase disk during Time Machine setup on Mac

7. After the hard drive is formatted, click Secure now to start the process of Time Machine backup.

When you create a Time Machine backup for the first time, it may take several hours for the backup process to complete.

2. Replace the existing hard drive on Mac with an SSD hard drive

Now that you have a Time Machine backup on a separate external drive, you can safely remove the current hard drive on your Mac and replace it with a new SSD drive.

To upgrade Mac Mini to SSD, you need a new SSD drive, TR6 and T8 screwdrivers, motherboard removal tools, and a spudger.

To upgrade MacBook Pro to SSD, you need a new SSD drive, a P5 pentalobe screwdriver, a T5 Torx screwdriver, and a spudger.

Steps to replace 2014 Mac mini hard drive with SSD are here ifixit guide and you should watch too This video on Youtube.

To replace 2015 MacBook Pro hard drive with SSD, you can refer to these ifixit guide and you should also check out YouTube videos applicable to your MacBook model.

3. Format the new SSD drive using Disk Utility

If you have replaced the hard drive on Mac with a new SSD drive, you need to format the hard drive in APFS format.

1. Turn on the Mac and immediately press and hold command + R Keys on your computer keyboard.

2. Release them both key when you see your Mac starts with the white Apple logo. This should take your Mac to the macOS Utilities Home screen.

3. Select macOS Utilities from the screen Disk Utility option and click Continue.

macOs Utilities home screen

4. On the next screen, type a Surname for your SSD drive and click Apply to start the formatting process.

5. When the SSD drive is formatted, close the Screen and this should bring you back to the macOS Utilities home screen.

4. Transfer data from old hard drive to new SSD drive on Mac

The final step is to transfer data from the old SSD drive to the new SSD drive on your Mac. You can skip steps 2, 3 below if you are already on the macOS Utilities screen.

1. Connect External hard drive with Time Machine Backup to your Mac’s USB port.

2. Turn on the Mac and immediately press and hold command + R Keys on your computer keyboard.

3. Release them both key when you see your Mac starts with the white Apple logo. This should take your Mac to the macOS Utilities Home screen.

4. From the macOS Utilities screen, select Restore from Time Machine backup option and click Continue.

macOs Utilities home screen

5. Click on the confirmation screen Continue confirm.

6. On the next screen, select your Time Machine backup disk as the recovery source and click Continue.

Choose Time Machine Backup recovery source

7. Choose New SSD drive on your Mac as the destination source and click Restore.

Select the destination source for Time Machine recovery

8th. Wait patiently for the recovery process to complete.

Once the Time Machine recovery is complete, restart the Mac and check if all your data is intact.

5. Desktop and apps are missing after Time Machine restore

In our tests, Mac desktop files and program files were missing after Time Machine restore.

If this happens, you always can Enter Time Machine > copy desktop files from Time Machine Backup and paste it onto your new desktop.

Enter Time Machine Option on Mac

You can also copy program files from Time Machine Backup and paste it into the Applications folder on your Mac.

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