Reinventing your old MacBook
Back in 2008, I generally stepped away from Windows computers in my home. Our school district was still Windows-based (at the time), and I eventually bought a small Asus T-100 to use when helping teachers (through the blog) with Windows issues.
As I have mentioned recently, I have to retire the Asus as it is a 32-bit computer and too many programs require 64-bit operation these days.
My MacBook dates back to November 2008. I originally bought it to make iPhone apps. I quickly learned that Cocoa, Objective C, and Xcode were things that I would need significant training with to be able to program…and I didn’t have the time as a teacher and parent to learn them (I would still like to, and if I won the lottery, I would want to be an adjunct professor at some college and then a programming student). My MacBook was $1700 with the included Apple Care (I do recommend it on a MacBook), and it was a tough price to pay.
Eight years later, I am still using that machine. I have put in a couple of traditional hard drives over the years, had the DVD drive replaced under warranty, and put in the maximum amount of memory. Until this fall, this MacBook has been supported by Apple OS upgrades, so it is running the latest version of OS X (El Capitan). Sadly, Apple has announced this will be the last version it can run–it is just too old. Early in its life, I dropped the MacBook (while in a bag) and there is a good dent in the corner, and there are lots of other scratches on the machine. But the machine was slow, and it does lack some features that come with newer MacBooks.
All that said, I breathed new life into my MacBook, which will keep me from having to buy a new MacBook (one is coming, but this extends its life further). First, I was sent the WIDI Bud by CME for a review, and now my old MacBook has BLE MIDI (Bluetooth MIDI). Second, I bought a SSD Drive from Amazon on Amazon Prime Day–a 480GB Drive for $92.
Let me be clear about this: If you have a MacBook that uses a traditional drive, an SSD drive will make your machine into a completely different device.
On this older MacBook, replacing a hard drive is relatively easy…with newer MacBooks, it is possible, but requires a little more work to do. You need to have an enclosure for a new drive (take a look at those offered by OWC, or just buy the kit containing drive and enclosure). Then you install the new drive in the enclosure, connect it to the MacBook, and run a cloning program. I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner, which has worked for me every time I have cloned my Hard Drive.
When that program is done, you turn off your computer, make sure you ground yourself (avoid static electricity), disassemble your computer, remove the old drive, install the new drive, put everything back together, and start up the computer.
You will be left with a MacBook that is exactly the same, but incredibly faster.
If you have a MacBook Air, you already have an SSD drive. So do the new MacBooks.
All that said, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a used MacBook from 2009 or 2010 (which should still be eligible for Mac OS Sierra) on the cheap, buy a new SSD drive, and walk away with a computer that will last for years.
The real “line in the sand,” however, is 2012. 2012 was the year where MacBooks could communicate via AirDrop with iPads and iPhones, and when BLE was integrated into the device. So for a machine that will last even longer, look for 2012 or newer.
I’m not sure how much longer I will be using this MacBook. It still has cosmetic damage and the battery just doesn’t last (it is on its 3rd battery). But it works with everything that I throw at it, and even programs that used to struggle (e.g. Finale 2014.5), it can run those programs without an issue thanks to a speedy SSD drive.
Of course, if you are terrible with electronics and struggle to use a screwdriver or to run a program on a computer–don’t try to replace your hard drive. Find someone else that can do it with you or for you.
But if you are a MacBook user whose computer is old and slow…putting in a new drive is a great way to breathe new life into an old purchase.
If you are a Windows user, you’ll need to check forums to see what options exist for your machine.
One other thought: make sure that your SSD drive is TRIM capable, and after your new drive is installed, make sure to turn on TRIM support. TRIM allows the Mac OS to properly manage the new SSD drive to make sure that data is stored and erased properly for the maximum life of the drive.