Opening up a desktop computer and replacing a hard drive is not that difficult. It’s even likely that there is still a free hard drive bay to put the new hard drive. Replacing it on a laptop… That is a different story.
The laptop of my girlfriend is a MacBook. I believe it’s the 2008 or 2009 model that came with a hard drive of just over 100 GB and by now it needed upgrading. The website of ifixit has some really great tutorials on how to fix and replace parts (mostly on Macs).
I went to our local computer store to get a new 2.5″ SATA hard drive. For 500 GB of storage, I had to pay just over 50€. I’m sure you can find a better deal somewhere online, but I was quite happy with this one. It was a bit of a hassle to get all the right screw drivers, but with the help of the ifixit tutorial, everything went great. Replacing the hard drive didn’t take up much time.
Reinstalling the system, programs and documents however did take up a great deal of time. Off course we made sure to have a up to date time machine backup, but that was not enough.
The MacBook has OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard), while my iMac runs 10.8 (Mountain Lion). When my hard drive crashed some time ago, I could still boot from the attached time machine. Apparently this is a new feature that is not included in 10.6. So doing a quick recovery by booting from time machine was a no-go. Also a no-go: booting from the Snow Leopard install DVD. We do have an official DVD, it’s just that the DVD drive on the MacBook is broken.
Luckily Macs come with a ‘target mode’ where you connect two Macs together over firewire and one Mac doesn’t boot, but sits as a FireWire external hard drive to e other Mac (I believe this can be a PC too). I tried to connect the MacBook in target mode, the timemachine as external USB and copy the contents of the latest backup to the Mackbook over the iMac. All seemed to get fine, until I restarted the MacBook. kernel panic.
One of the mistakes I made was not using the 10.6 DVD to restore from timemachine (I either used the 10.7 DVD or running 10.8). My solution in the end was to use my iMac as a external DVD drive for the MacBook:
- insert the 10.6 DVD into the iMac
- boot the iMac in target mode
- connect timeMachine to MacBook
- boot MacBook over FireWire from the 10.6 DVD in the iMac
- restore MacBook from timeMachine