I've read many SSD postings and web sites but not gotten help on a particular scenario.

I have a 2009 Mac Pro with a single 400 GB HDD installed.

I want to add a 128 GB SSD for faster booting and performance. I can definitely fit that part of my existing HDD unto the smaller SSD. The question is how to install and configure.

Clearly I cannot do a Carbon Copy or similar operation. I guess I would want to install Lion onto the new SSD keeping the old HDD as a second drive.

-- After I install the new SSD, how do I get Lion installed and booting from it?

-- And, then, how do I disentangle whatever parts of Lion on the 'old' HDD so I can delete them?

Any guidance, threads, hints would be really appreciated!



4 Answers 4


You can definitely do it. But you either can't use your home folder to store your data for the most part, or you have to figure out how to do some kind of voodoo.

What I did is not supported by Apple, but it works just fine. And you can take it in for repair under warranty no problem. So there's nothing to stop you from doing it.

I got the information I needed here:



Basically the idea is you copy your user folder to a big conventional drive. Then you install Lion on a new SSD and create a user account with the same name. I named the big drive "Users" and then put the Home folders in its root.

Go to Users& Groups in System Preferences. Right click on the account. Choose advanced options. For the Home directory field, there's a "Choose" button on the right. Click it and navigate to the copy of the account on the new User drive, and select it. Reboot. You will now be using the user account on the conventional drive. Your Desktop, Pictures, Music, Downloads, Documents, etc. folders are now on the big drive, but it's just like it's on the boot drive.

A big benefit here is that you can format your boot drive and reconnect it to the User drive, and not touch your files at all. And you can clone the User drive and it won't contain your system files. (Or your Applications which remain on the boot drive.)

If it's not clear, ask questions and I'll try to clarify.


Personally, I would get your MBP running Lion, as you want it, with the HDD. Move all the data you don't want on the SSD into a known place, preferably a different UDB/FW/Network drive. Just get your HDD down to 128Gb, if you can.

You can get little adaptors to connect internal drives via USB. Something like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812232002 It's temporary, and they work pretty well. I switched the drives in my old Apple TV using a similar trick.

Basically, plug the SSD into the MBP, while it's still running on the HDD, and run SuperDuper (my preference) or CarbonCopy, or DiskUtils to duplicate the drives, masking off the data you don't want to copy over by either removing it as above, or telling the duplicating tool to ignore it if you can.

Then, just switch them over.

At that point, you can wipe the HDD and use put it in a housing, leave it on your desk using the above USB adaptor, etc. Basically, it'll be your spare drive.


Okay let's start with the first problem:

  1. Lion I'm assuming this mac didn't come with Lion preinstalled and you bought it from the App store. You'll need to create a bootable DVD or USB drive to boot from and then install Lion on the SSD. This link will walk you through it: http://www.macworld.com/article/161069/2011/07/make_a_bootable_lion_installer.html

2a. I would probably attempt to use the Migration Assistant off a time machine backup. The migration assistant is actually pretty good about letting you select various parts of the machine to move.

2b. If that doesn't work, then I'd say this is a great opportunity to re-evaluate what you need. I'd def sign up for a Dropbox account to move documents and what not over and then go about reinstalling applications from the web. You can also install your existing boot drive into one of these:http://www.amazon.com/Vantec-NexStar-2-5-Inch-External-Enclosure/dp/B002JQNXZC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317434844&sr=8-1 and then mount in on your SSD mac and drag over movies, music, etc.

  • 1
    Hrm, the existing boot drive is going to be a 3.5", and the Mac Pro is sure to have plenty of internal drive slots. That enclosure is neither appropriate nor necessary.
    – NReilingh
    Oct 1, 2011 at 4:03

I successfully did it. For your edification, here was my procedure, based on these answers:

  1. install the ssd and format it
  2. create a lion bootable usb memory stick
  3. boot from the memory stick and format the ssd into a bootable lion disk
  4. boot from the lion sdd and use the migration tool to migrate just:

    • my /Users/pitosalas user directory but none of it's contents (because they were so huge)
    • the /Application directory (because I figured that would be the hairiest because of preference files etc.)
  5. create symbolic links from /Users/pitosalas/Documents, Pictures and Music to their counterparts on the old HDD /Volumes/OldHDD/Users/pitosalas/Documents, Pictures and Music

So far so good. It's bizarre to be using my computer for hours and not hear a disk whirr. And it's very very fast, quite noticeable!

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