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So I had thought that my AppleCare lasted until September, so today I visited the Geniuses to try to squeeze a new hard drive out of them. Unfortunately, my warranty ended a couple weeks ago, and so I am shopping for a new SSD instead.

Newegg has some great deals, and it looks like I will be getting off pretty easily price-wise. My one question is, however, how does changing out my hard drive (myself theoretically) change the Mountain Lion upgrade issue? Are there any involved problems with a new drive and upgrading?

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You didn't mention what kind of Mac it is, but FYI if it is an iMac purchased between October 2009 and July 2011, you are eligible for a free hard drive replacement due to failing Seagate 1TB drives, even if your AppleCare has expired. –  ghoppe Dec 12 '12 at 20:05

4 Answers 4

Nope. While you've got to re-install the OS, now would be a great time to just do a clean install and use Migration Assistant from the old hard drive, using it as a pre-install "backup".

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Just to confirm, is it not a myth that clean install + migration assistant makes the OS go faster? –  Enrico Susatyo Aug 8 '12 at 5:23
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Myth. Myth busted. –  duci9y Aug 8 '12 at 8:51
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@EnricoSusatyo That's almost certainly a myth, but it is more likely to clean out random cruft than a migration assistant to the new drive and then an OS upgrade. It's also probably easier and has the added benefit of the old drive being your "backup". –  CajunLuke Aug 8 '12 at 14:57

Backup your old HD to Time Machine, and do a clean install. Using the Migration Assistant to restore from your Time Machine.

Or, install ML in your old HD, and use SuperDuper to restore the whole old HD to your new SSD.

Prefer the 1st option.

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Will you be installing your SSD in place of your existing HDD, or replacing the HDD with the SSD and replacing the optical drive with the HDD? (I chose the later on my 15" MBP)

Many SSDs come with a USB to SATA connector to allow cloning/copying of data. You can plug the new SSD in with this connector and install Mountain Lion straight on to this. Once that's done and it wants to reboot power down the system. Install your new SSD internally, and either replace your optical drive with the HDD, or connect your HDD to the USB connector, then boot up and hold the option key (alt) and select the SSD Mountain Lion drive, when it's finalising and asks you if you would like to migrate any data, you can select the HDD.

One other step you should do is enable TRIM if your drive supports it by following these steps (don't use the TRIM Enabler app as this is known to cause problems) http://digitaldj.net/2011/07/21/trim-enabler-for-lion/ which also works on Mountain Lion.

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I was thinking for a while about replacing the optical drive, but at this point since I have never cracked open a aluminum body mac before, I am just going with the new SSD. I will keep my HDD around and possibly add that in later. –  Kaitlyn Clark Aug 9 '12 at 5:28
    
It's a bit scary the first time you need to unplug the ribbon cables from the logic board when you take out the optical drive, but it's still a relatively simple job. If you want to bootcamp though, it's a lot easier to do this before you replace the optical drive and have it as a 2nd partition on the primary drive in the HDD bay rather than on the 2nd drive in the optical bay. –  AlanJC Aug 9 '12 at 13:14
  1. Install your SSD by following the copious amount of guides on the internet.
  2. Download Carbon Copy Cloner. Select your magnetic drive as the source disk. Uncheck the “Users” folder. Select your SSD as the destination. Copy over the stuff.
  3. Reboot while holding down the option key so that you can select the SSD as the boot volume.
  4. It will start as a completely new install. Create a new user account with the same credentials as your old one.
  5. Once logged in, go to System Preferences > Users and Groups > Right click on the current user > Advanced options > Home Directory. Choose your previous home directory on the magnetic disk.
  6. Logout and Login and voila!
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