Category Archives: Data Storage

Upgrading My Mid 2010 MacBook Pro

I have had a mid 2010 MacBook Pro for a while. It works well, but it is sluggish. Rather than invest in a new MacBook, I chose to make a fairly quick and simple upgrade.

To make my MacBook more useable I upgraded it (similar to what I did to my 2010 Mac Mini a few years ago) with a new SSD.

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It already has 8GB of RAM, so I decided to replace the hard disk with an SSD. I purchased a new SanDisk 250 GB SSD when I found it on sale a few weeks ago.

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I had purchased a 2.5″ external drive case from OWC a while back. I used the interface contained in the drive enclosure to attach the SSD to my MacBook. After formatting the SSD as an APFS drive, I used Carbon Copy Cloner to ‘clone’ (make an exact copy) my boot drive to the SSD. Fortunately for me, this didn’t take too long as the 320 GB hard disk was less than half full – less than 4 hours.

Once the drive had been cloned, I rebooted my Mac selecting the SSD as the boot device (depressed the Option keep when the Mac chimed on reboot and selected the new SSD as the boot drive). I verified that the SSD was working as it should, then shut down my MacBook.

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I removed the screws on the back cover, then removed the screws holding the hard drive bracket. I was then faced with removing the Torx screws that held in the drive. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a T6 Torx screwdriver available. That necessitated a trip to a nearby Lowe’s. There I picked up a “Kobalt 14-in-1 Precision Driver Set” for about $10 that included the needed T6 head (second from top on left in the photo above). Equipped with that, I easily removed the screws holding the drive in place, then gently disconnected the SATA ribbon cable from the drive. With nothing holding the drive in place I was able to remove it from my MacBook.

I attached the SATA cable to my SSD, placed it into position in the Mac, then refastened the bracket in place. I closed up my Mac, then fired it up. As expected it booted in a fraction of the time previously required with the hard disk. The operation of macOS is now much snappier. Apps boot faster. Alfred works quicker. For the investment of less than $100, I have a drastically improved MacBook.

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As a final step, I mounted the old hard drive in the external chassis. I haven’t reformatted it yet, but if there are no hiccups in the operation of my MacBook I will soon reformat that drive as APFS and will have an external 320GB drive to use.

If you have an older Mac, this is a relatively easy and low-cost way to bring new life to it!

 

References

  1. How to upgrade your MacBook Pro with an SSD
  2. How to select a different startup disk

See my other Mac and OS X articles


 

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World Backup Day 2018

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I can’t really say much more than I did last year, so I am reposting the article I wrote for Backup Day 2017.

If you have an electronic device (computer, phone, tablet), chances are that it can be backed up. Today, World Backup Day, serves as a reminder that you should be backing up those devices on a routine basis.

Backing up your data means making a second (and a third copy is recommended) of all of the data on your device. The 3-2-1 strategy is best – always three copies of your data, data stored on two different media, and one copy off-site.

You should backup because losing data is not as uncommon as you might think. Devices can be lost or stolen. Or they may simply suffer a hardware failure. Increasingly too there is the threat of the data on your device being held for ransom.

Start a habit today of making routine backups. You can even go to the World Backup Day website and take the pledge to back up your data.

One new thing I would like to add is this quick video by Bob “Dr. Mac” Levitus:

IBM’s Development of the Disk Drive

I came across the video above today. It is a IBM documentary film about the development of the disk drive. This effort began in 1952 in San Jose, CA. The original film strip was made in the mid 1950s. The story tells how the IBM RAMAC that was introduced in 1956 was developed.

RAMAC stood for “Random Access Method of Accounting and Control”. The RAMAC 350 stored a ‘massive’ 5 million characters across the internal fifty 24″ disks. The entire unit weighed in at about 1 ton.

So in about 60 years the technology has

  • increased in capacity from 5MB to 8TB (grown by 160000000%)
  • shrunk in volume from 118320 cubic inches to less than 24 cubic inches (shrunk to 0.02% of original volume)
  • reduced in weight from 2000 to 1.4 pounds (0.07% of original weight)
  • been discounted from a $27,007 (in 2015 equivalent dollars) per month lease to a $319.97 purchase from amazon (purchase is now 1.19% of the month lease)

Floppy Drive Plays GoT Theme

 

 

I like Game of Thrones. I am also a bit of a computer nerd. My son showed me this video yesterday that brought both of those worlds together. Who would have thought that old computer hardware could be repurposed to play music?

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Well actually, I heard something like this before in person. I worked for TRW Transportations Systems back in the early 1970’s. I remember in our computer room at the Clear Lake office there was a minicomputer equipped with a IBM 2315 compatible disk drive (A drive unit that accepted 14 inch 1MB removable disk cartridges in a plastic container as pictured above). One of the creative programmers had written a program that would play  “She’s Coming Around the Mountain” by controlling the arm with the read/write heads.

The arm had to traverse between 5 and 6 inches quickly to access the tracks containing the data. To achieve this a large voice coil actuator would move the arm with the heads to a designated track on the disk. This required a considerable force to move the heads quickly enough. The movement made enough noise that a ‘tune’ could be played. The unit was mounted in a standard five foot tall 19 inch rack and if the song was played, the force would be enough to visibly shake the rack containing the drive and minicomputer.

New recording method yields 360TB on small glass disk

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I saw this article (“5D – 360 TERABYTES IN A DISK THE SIZE OF A COIN“) this morning and thought that the advance described was significant. Not only the storage capacity significant, but the predicted ‘shelf life’ of 13.8 billion years at room temperature certainly offers incredible archival storage ability. This advancement in data storage was made by scientists at the University of Southampton Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC).

The ORC developed what they call a 5D process that allows a femtosecond laser to read and write data. Data is written in three layers of nanostructure dots separated by only 5 micrometers. These nanostructures change the way light passes through the glass, modifying it’s polarization. The data can then be read by an optical sensor coupled with a polarizer.

Obviously this is not a device you are able to order today and connect up to your computer. This does speak to the growing need for backup of large data sets and to long term storage needs. ORC is currently seeking commercial partners to further develop this technology and bring products to market.