I have a mid-2010 Macbook Pro 7,1 that I have kept up to date over the years, currently running the latest version of Mavericks.

I am planning to replace the 250 GB Toshiba hard drive it came with. The new hard drive will be larger capacity. When I did these kinds of upgrades with my Windows machines, I would just boot from a Linux USB drive, and use dd to clone my partition images. This way, I never had to deal with re-installing anything.

This will be the first time I upgrade a hard drive on the Mac. Is there a list of recommended procedures, so that I can attach the new hard drive via a USB enclosure, clone the existing set up, install the new drive in the bay, and just boot up?

I would like to avoid installing Mavericks from scratch, restoring from backup etc.

  • Everything you mentioned about disk dumping, using an external enclosure, etc. are all equally possible with OS X
    – Alexander
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 2:59
  • I did not ask if it is possible. I asked if there is a canonical guide showing me the steps. I wouldn't have asked if I did not think it was possible. In mathematical terms, I would appreciate a constructive proof rather than proof by contradiction. Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 3:13

3 Answers 3


Here, courtesy of iFixit, is your step by step guide to replacing your HDD, photos included at each step.

Also, see this ASC user tip if you plan to upgrade with a SSD/need advice on how to go about backing up the data on the existing drive before replacing it.


The answer turns out to be surprisingly simple and, yet, hard to ascertain beforehand.

Initially, I thought I would have to reserve space for the boot and rescue partitions, and then use the one partition layout in the Disk Utility to clone my existing hard drive.

My question was specifically about the partitioning, and not the physical aspect, or backups. I wrote about my experience on my blog.

It turns out, when you clone using the single partition layout, the two additional partitions are also automatically created and copied. This is not mentioned any page/document I read before attempting the installation.

If you create multiple partitions, clone your existing hard drive to the first one (assuming it is a suitable size), and it looks like you'll automatically get the boot and rescue partitions as well.

Definitely useful for the ignorant, but rather confusing for the experienced ;-)


The iFixit guide is a great visual explanation of the physical procedure. My replacement process was a bit more complicated because my husband's hard drive had failed.

Just a thought:

  1. Make a Time Machine backup on the old hard drive
  2. Create a Bootable USB (How do i install OS X on new hard drive? I have macbook pro mid 2010.)
  3. Install OSX on the new hard drive using the bootable recovery
  4. Use a SATA/IDE to USB connector to connect your old hard drive, and then use Time Machine in the Mac Recovery Utilities to navigate to the time machine file on the old hard drive and restore from there

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