Minimally invasive surgery
The first good step in any repair procedure is making the shopping list.
- A 120GB solid-state drive, compatible with mid-2011 MacBook Air, from Other World Computing.
- Newer Technology's tool kit for the same, which includes a T5 Torx screwdriver and the ever-elusive Pentalobe screwdriver.
- A spudger.
- An anti-static mat and anti-static wrist strap from Amazon. (In my previous life as an IT tech, I generally didn't bother, but when you're dealing with a) your own equipment and b) delicate materials like an expensive SSD, the $25 or so is a sound investment to avoid electrostatic discharge.)
- And, most importantly, iFixit's upgrade guide for the task at hand.
I also laid out a piece of paper on which I sketched the bottom of my MacBook Air to help me keep track of the many screws I'd have to remove from the bottom of the laptop.
Following iFixit's instructions made the process pretty painless: The only real worrying moments are unplugging connectors from the logic board — that's the point when one false move could land you in much hotter water than you're already in.
But all told, the whole process from start to finish took only about 20 minutes — and part of that was retrieving scissors from the other room when I realized I couldn't rip open the anti-static bag the new SSD came in. (One thing I later wished I'd had handy: a can of compressed air, to disperse some of the dust that had accumulated inside the case.)
New SSD installed and case re-attached, I booted the Mac up from my SuperDuper backup and set about restoring my old system, with fingers crossed.
Restoring from SuperDuper worked a treat. (I first tried to restore using Disk Utility, but it gave me grief because my 1TB backup disk was larger than my 120GB SSD.) The one problem I ran into was that FileVault was not enabled on the new SSD, and when I went to activate it, OS X gave me an error saying that FileVault couldn't be turned on for my disk.
A trip to Google turned up the culprit: Because I'd formatted the new SSD from scratch, it didn't contain OS X's Recovery Partition, which is required for FileVault. A little further searching led me to Christopher Silvertooth's handy AppleScript utility, Recovery Partition Creator. As it suggests, it can create a brand new partition on your startup disk or an external disk, as long as you have an OS X installer handy. (I re-downloaded the Mavericks installer from the Mac App Store.) Ten minutes or so later, and I was able to re-enable FileVault with no problems.
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