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I have a fairly new MBP with a 256 GB SSD. I am running out of disk space now. Most of it is being used by Pictures and Music and I have done all the cleaning I could.

What's the best way to upgrade the space on the MBP?

  1. Go to Apple Store and ask them to upgrade to 512 GB?
  2. I was wondering if I could hook up a 1 TB NAS to the network and mount it and try to move some folders to that drive?
  • Most recent MBPs dont have disk drives: the memory modules are proprietary and not upgradeable. apple.stackexchange.com/questions/135854/… – Jared Smith Dec 30 '15 at 17:56
  • What exactly MBP do you have? Is it retina-equipped model or not? – el.pescado Dec 30 '15 at 18:00
  • The quick and dirty way is to just use a thumb drive as an extension of your harddrive. I just checked and there are 64GB thumb sticks for around $20 new. They will be slower, though. Hopefully you have USB 3.0 but even then I'm pretty sure it won't be as fast as the native HD. The second quick and dirty way is to use cloud storage, but that will cost you money each month instead of one upfront cost for a piece of hardware...and will proly be slower than a thumbdrive unless you have a T-5 hookup for your ISP. – DrZ214 Dec 31 '15 at 10:14
  • @JaredSmith This is incorrect. There are aftermarket solutions such as OWC Aura. – kirb Jan 1 '16 at 6:15
  • @kirb is right. Except for a few odd years around 2011 (IIRC), the form factor is "standard" and you can find replacement drives of any size. If you are at all mechanically inclined, it's easy to drop in a new drive. I've done it lots. I suggest using CarbonCopyCloner to duplicate the drive before putting it in, and then TrimEnabler if needed to ensure that you are getting the most performance and life out of the new SSD. – crimson-egret Jan 4 '16 at 18:06
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You could probably go with your 1st option from an Apple Service provider or DIY, but Apple doesn't upgrade storage on any shipping Mac. The last one to offer that was the Mac Pro which had no-tool, user swappable hard drive bays.

Your 2nd option will tie your laptop to the network providing the NAS for full operation. You would want an iSCSI initiator for the fastest storage, but NAS would be just fine for large files and folders you access infrequently.

I propose a third option: external storage.

I taped a 1TB SSD to the lid of my MBP. Not that attractive but very effective. Thunderbolt is the fastest DAS (direct attached storage vs network attached storage) but USB 3 is no slouch either.

Be sure to tape the connector and cables as well to prevent jiggle disconnects.

I didn't care about the looks. Consider this a proof of concept (tape is enduring nearly one year :-) So there is enough room for improvement. But I'm very happy with this solution. I travel daily with this setup with all my music and stuff.

ugly ssd addon :-)

Pictures of opened lid

  • 6
    Hmm, well, yes, it does solve the problem :-) – nohillside Dec 30 '15 at 13:01
  • I'm editing the post - Apple does not upgrade storage on anything but the old Mac Pro. If it doesn't have user swappable drives (in the sense that no tools are needed for a "user swap" - Apple won't upgrade storage. – bmike Dec 30 '15 at 13:26
  • @bmike nice edit. Thank you. I use the usb3 option which is very fast and cheeper because of being mainstream. – itsafire Dec 30 '15 at 13:32
  • The USB connector is less prone to a jiggle un-mounting the drive in my experience as well. – bmike Dec 30 '15 at 13:36
  • You should put the cable on the other side, so you can open the lid! – Renato Mefi Dec 30 '15 at 14:03
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If a 128 GB upgrade would be enough for now, and you don't regularly use your SD card slot, then a 128 GB Micro SDXC card plus a suitable adapter is probably the most cost-effective and convenient option. If you need more than 128 GB, buy 128 GB and wait for bigger cards to get cheaper ;-)

Another option would be to use a wireless external hard drive, some of which have rechargeable batteries so you can use them on the move - this is one more gadget to carry around, but doesn't need you to have anything physically plugged in to your MacBook.

An alternative approach, if it's music and photos or video that are taking up the space, is to look into how you could use cloud services such as iTunes Match or Apple Music, iCloud Photo Library, Flickr etc. to store your music and photos, and then keep only a subset actually on your device - possibly at lower bit rate or resolution than the originals to reduce the size.

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    Wouldn't trust an SD card as far as I could spit it. imnsho you would need copies of any data on 3 SD cards to be even remotely safe. – Tetsujin Dec 30 '15 at 17:07
  • All data needs a backup, because any storage device can fail or be corrupted - are SD cards any worse than USB sticks, for example? – nekomatic Dec 31 '15 at 10:52
  • I get through literally thousands of them for work. The fail-rate is alarming, & the recoverability after a fail is depressingly low. I would never use one for anything important, ever, without a reliable master copy somewhere else. – Tetsujin Dec 31 '15 at 12:03

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