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I recently bought a new mac mini (my first mac ever yay) with a 1TB hard drive at 5,400 rpm. the guy at microcenter also sold me a 1TB hard drive at 7,200 rpm and said it shouldn't be to hard to replace. He said first I'd need to back up the OS to a usb thumb drive and then physically replace the hard drive and then some how get the OS onto the new hard drive.

So far I've found a few tutorials online on how to physically replace the hard drive but it seems like a lot more work than I anticipated (ie. http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+Mac+Mini+Late+2012+Hard+Drive+Replacement/11716/1). Although, it does seem like something I could do.

However, my main difficulty now is i'm having a very hard time finding any help online on how to 'back the OS up on a usb thumb drive' and how I should re-install it once I do put in the new hard drive. He mentioned using time machine but when I open time machine it doesn't give me any options to interact with the USB thumb drive.

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    Could you please ask the applecare question as a separate question? This keeps the site organised and enables people to answer one question at the time. – Saaru Lindestøkke Aug 9 '13 at 16:43
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    @BartArondson i created a second question for the warranty question: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/98451/… – Letseatlunch Aug 9 '13 at 16:58
  • As a note i was able to successfully upgrade my hard drive, thanks again for all the help – Letseatlunch Aug 14 '13 at 18:38
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You could use Apple's OS X Recovery Disk Assistant to create a bootable recovery disk on a USB thumb drive. Since you've backed up to an external disk using Time Machine you could replace the hard drive, boot to the recovery disk on your thumb drive, use the recovery disk to format the hard drive and then reinstall 10.8/Mountain Lion. Once Mountain Lion is installed you will walk through the same setup procedure that occurred when you first bought your Mac. One of the first questions in the setup process is if you would like to restore information from Time Machine, which allows you to connect your Time Machine disk and restore your backup.

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  1. I recently did this very thing. I backed up my OS and files to an external drive (not a thumb drive), installed the new drive with new OS, and restored the Time Machine backup to the new drive. The whole process took a couple of hours. The best online video for doing this operation IMO is here: http://eshop.macsales.com/installvideos/mac_mini2011_hd/

  2. Replacing the hard drive will not void your AppleCare warranty. OWC addresses this issue on their blog: http://blog.macsales.com/18244-owc-diys-wont-void-your-macs-warranty

NOTE: I have done the restore process in #1 using both Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner. Each is different, but relatively simple.

  • @MrRabbit i created a second question, per another user's request, for the warranty part of the question: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/98451/… – Letseatlunch Aug 9 '13 at 16:59
  • @Letseatlunch - Awesome, I'll add my advice there. Feel free to kill off my comments. – Mr Rabbit Aug 9 '13 at 17:01
  • @dave while the video was great what i really need help with is the 'backing up' to the external hard drive part of this, especially when it comes to the OS (I don't really have any files on the machine yet since i just bought it). – Letseatlunch Aug 9 '13 at 17:09
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    @Letseatlunch - Carbon copy cloner allows you to clone (backup) your existing hard drive to an external drive, assuming the existing drive has enough space. When starting the clone you will need to specify that the clone needs to be "bootable". Once cloned you can boot to the external drive and clone it, using the same method you did the first time around, to the new internal disk. – Mr Rabbit Aug 9 '13 at 18:47
  • @MrRabbit is there a way to do it with time machine? I pulled out an old external hard drive i had and backup everything to that but i'm not sure how to use the backup with the new hard drive, thanks again for the help. – Letseatlunch Aug 9 '13 at 19:41
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Actually I did something similar recently.

Being an IT geek I ALWAYS want physical restore media. So using an external USB drive and following this procedure on MacOSXHints gave me the DMG disk image to burn a restore DVD for my new Mini (you'll need a dual layer disc!) or to use the Disk Utility to "restore" that DMG to a USB thumb drive.

Works like a charm: http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20110831105634716

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