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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

SSD Swap needed, will this plan work?


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MacInWin

 
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I have been advised that before I can upgrade to Mavericks, my SSD needs a firmware update. However, the firmware updater doesn't work, so the vendor wants me to send them the SSD to have the firmware updated by them. I can't go without the machine for the 5 days turnaround, so I bought a new SSD to replace the current one. My current setup is an SSD internal as boot drive, with a spinning HD in the Optical bay holding my data files. I use Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner to back up the two internal drives to two separate external drives.

So my plan is to install the new SSD, then install Mavericks as a clean install, restore from a Time Machine backup my files that were on the SSD. That should, I think, get me to a state with Mavericks running and still having my personal files on the internal spinner. Then I'll send the removed SSD to have the firmware updated. When it returns, I was going to clone the internal spinner to the SSD with CCC and then replace the spinner with the SSD. That should give me a blindingly fast internal system. The spinner will go into an enclosure to give me another external drive.

Will that sequence work? I can't see any holes in it, but it is a lot of moves.

EDIT: I have already created and tested a bootable Mavericks USB stick installer, so I can boot with the new SSD in place from the USB and do the install. At least that's the plan.

- Jake
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Will that sequence work? I can't see any holes in it, but it is a lot of moves.
I don't see why it wouldn't as long as you don't make any "extra" moves. The only thing that would concern me is that I have read where SSDs do not take well to cloning. Whether or not that's true has yet to be proven to me with valid statistics.

Also, I find it strange that you have to send the SSD back to the factory to get a firmware update? Rather unusual. Anyway, let us know how it all turned out.
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MacInWin

 
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Yeah, the firmware update failure was annoying. THe update required booting from a USB stick with their update on it and Ubuntu in a skinny version. It booted fine, gave a legal disclaimer and license agreement fine and then the updater reported "No SSD detected." The way they set it up it was difficult to do anything but shutdown, but I figured out how to cancel their update program and drop back to the desktop, where there was nothing, zero, nada. But I could create a new folder on the desktop, which let me into the file structure and there was the SSD, all nicely mounted and perfectly visible! Made a couple of calls to tech support, got the virtual shoulder shrug and "send it back to us" solution. Not buying any more from them, so I got a different SSD.

As for cloning, I'm not going to do a block by block clone, more of a copy-everything clone, so that should work. I, too, have heard that SSDs don't like block by block cloning.

Thanks for your confirmation…I've done this before, but it's always good to get a second set of eyes before you do the heart surgery.

- Jake
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Just out of curiosity, what brand of SSD are you having issues with? I have never come across a drive that cannot be field updated.

Your plan will work, but at a lot of time and cost to you.

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MacInWin

 
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Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G, 500MB. Simply won't update. Update software can't see it, even though the Ubuntu OS the updater uses mounts it just fine. Been a good drive, no troubles, but the vendor was very clear that it REALLY, REALLY needed to be updated before Mavericks. As I said, I can't go 5 days without the machine, so I bought a replacement and once it's in, I'll let the vendor update it and put it in as the data drive.

- Jake
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MacInWin

 
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OK, step one when well. New SSD arrived, Partition, formatted. Booted from USB stick, but install failed because it reported the install files had been modified. Rebooted from my backup drive, found the downloaded install files and ran it from there. Installed just fine to the new SSD. Restored SSD from TimeMachine backup. Worked fine. Obtained RMA, erased old SSD, ships back to vendor tomorrow.

One curious thing, the consumed space on my new SSD is a lot smaller the old one, but the files match up in size perfectly, and nothing has failed to load. The only think I can think of is that somehow the old one had a bunch of space allocated for swap that was not released somehow from its max size. In any event, step one is done!

- Jake
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It's been a journey, but I thought I should update with what has transpired since I started on this plan. As I had said, I got a new SSD from Crucial, installed it and made it the boot drive. The difference in space used was caused by the fact that I back up the drive daily, but exclude the virtual machine images from that backup and only back them up once a week. So my restore restored the daily files, but not the weekly ones. When I restored the weeklies, the disk utilization got back to closer to what I expected.

The next step was to transition my spinning drive in the optical bay to an SSD. I shipped the OWC SSD to them to have them update the firmware, got it back in about a week. (Fantastic service from them, as usual. Despite the problems with the firmware updater, they remain on my short list of trusted providers.) I connected the SSD to a USB universal drive connector and started to clone it with Carbon Copy Cloner. I realized fairly quickly that it was going to be a very slow process over the USB2 connection so I killed it and reformatted the SSD to an empty state.

I then replaced the spinning drive with the SSD and tried to boot, thinking that I would do the restore from my daily CCC clone that is on a faster FW800 connection. Boot went well, but I couldn't log in because my configuration had my user data all on the spinning drive. I had moved my user account to the spinner when I moved the HD to the optical bay so that all I had the OS on the SSD was the OS, and all my data on the spinner. Now that configuration bit me in the butt by not allowing me to boot into my account.

So I put the spinner back in and thought about it for a while. I couldn't figure out a way around the login issue, so I paid the price in time and did a CCC copy of the HD to the SSD. I took advantage of the Daylight savings change to get an "extra" hour and let the process run overnight. It took 20 hours to move the data, but I finally ended up with the data on the SSD.

I then installed the SSD into the optical bay again, but then faced another problem: I had named the SSD "SSD HD" to be separate from the "Macintosh HD" of the spinner. When I put it back in, I realized it probably wouldn't let me log in because of the name change, and even if it did I was worried about all the issues that could result from changing the name of the drive after logging in, so I tried booting from the Recovery HD partition. There were no utilities that would let me just rename the drive unless I wanted to reformat or repartition, neither of which was attractive as both would then force another restoration. Even at FW800 speeds, it was going to be several hours to complete that restoration!

I remembered I had created an emergency user who had admin privileges but nothing else, and that I had NOT moved that user to the spinner when it was in, so I logged into that account, used Finder to rename the data SSD to "Macintosh HD" and then logged out and rebooted.

That worked! I now have two SSDs internally, one named Macintosh SSD that is the boot drive and one named Macintosh HD which is the data drive. What I have noticed most about the setup is that it is really, really quiet. Nothing mechanical except the fans. And as one might expect, the system is really fast, startlingly so in some cases. It's basically a great big 17" MacBookAir!

So, for anyone considering this kind of migration, it's possible to do it, and it makes for a very fast machine! In retrospect, I may have been able to save some time by installing the data SSD, booting as the admin only account, partitioning and formatting it and copying from the CCC clone to the data SSD using the FW800 connections. If that worked, I would have saved 15 or so hours of the time it took to clone over USB2, but I don't know if the permissions and ownership of any of the cloned files would have changed because the copy was done under a different account. In any event, the result is, to me, fantastic and worth the time investment.

- Jake
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