Experiences of upgrading an old Macbook running Bootcamp to an SSD

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Kilobyte Kid

Experiences of upgrading an old Macbook running Bootcamp to an SSD

Following on from my previous post(s) abot upgrading the HD on an old MAcbbok to an SSD, I thought that I would share my experiences for anyone else that may happen to find themselves in the same position.

I had had a previous good experience replacing the HD by an SSD in an Acer laptop.  So I was tempted to approach a similar upgrade of an old (early 2009) Macbook by the words on the Crucial web site:  "If this is your first time installing a Crucial SSD in your Mac system, there’s no need to fear - the process is easy and straightforward."  Sadly it wasn't.  It was a complete nightmare! In case it helps with improving Crucial’s documentation or for someone else in the same position, I'll give some clues as to why.  I found Crucial’s instructions and videos somewhat confusing and sometimes contradictory.

1)  When I attempted to follow the instructions "How to install a Crucial® SSD in a Mac® computer", I got stuck at almost the first step trying to copy only the Mac Partition.  According to the instructions, for Mac OS versions numbers less than 10.11, it said to "press your system’s power button then immediately press and hold the Option button on your keyboard to reboot your Mac and have it go to a special window called Boot Manager. From here, select Recovery-10.x."  When I pressed the option button, I just got the options to boot into Mac or Windows; there was no recovery option. Selecting Mac and then going into Disk Utility, did not offer the ability to copy partitions. 

Further research showed that the option of booting into recovery mode was not available on our version of OS X (10.5.8).  I thought that I would try your suggestion of just cloning the Windows partition.  So I watched the video…

2)  When I watched the video to see how to clone a Bootcamp Windows® partition, the first thing it said was to put an Acronis disk into the system.  There was no clue as to where that disk was supposed to have come from or whether it made any difference whether it was Acronis for Windows or Acronis for Mac.

3)  The video showed using the Windows install media without explaining why.  I thought that the whole point of cloning a disk was to avoid having to reinstall software?

4)  The video did the process by saving an image and then restoring from the image.  Is there not a way of cloning straight from the hard disk (HDD) to the SSD?

5)  It was totally unclear why the video then said to go into Bootcamp assistant and select "Install Windows 7 or later" when Windows was already installed. 

6)  There was no clue as to why it showed there already being a boot camp partition and then using the tool to resize it.

7) I thought that the comment "Install Windows just you would normally" was somewhat sarcastic.  Most people would NEVER install Windows, and certainly not frequently enough to be considered ‘normally’.  Again, it was not clear why you would need to install Windows when it was already installed.

8)  Anyway, I downloaded the Windows version of Acronis and proceeded to try to clone just the Windows partition.  It appeared to clone the whole drive.  Initial optimism changed when the system couldn’t boot into the Windows software after replacing the SSD.  Surprisingly, the Mac system still worked OK.  So on to the next alternative option …

9)  I looked for alternatives.  Searching on the internet showed a potential product from EaseUS that might do the entire clone in one go.  Unfortunately, it was not available for OS X 10.5.8.

10)  Another internet page said that it was possible to clone the entire disk using Clonezilla.  It was not easy to find out how to create a bootable disk for Clonezilla.  Eventually I managed and attempted to run it.  It came up with unintelligible error messages and failed.  On to the next alternative option …

11)  Thinking that I would have to do it in stages, just clone the Mac Partition and then run Bootcamp all over again, I asked Acronis about their Mac cloning software.  Yet again, it was not available for OS X 10.5.8.   They could not help me.

12)  I resorted to downloading an old (unsupported) version of Carbon Copy Cloner that would support OS X 10.5.8 and cloned the Mac partition successfully.

13) I used the Acronis software to back up the Windows partition on the HD, hoping to reinstall it once I had created a new one on the SSD.

14) I replaced the SSD into the computer and used Bootcamp to create a new Windows partition.  So far, so good.  However, when I then went to restore the old Windows partition into it using the Acronis backup, it appeared that the Acronis software would not offer me that option.  Full restore capabilities only come with the fully paid for version – which Acronis had already told me wouldn’t work on this version of a Mac.  

15) I managed to follow the link you provided to create a Windows installation disk and used Bootcamp to reinstall Windows from scratch.  I then had to find the correct site to download and install the Bootcamp Windows drivers.

16)  Finally, I now have a Macbook that can boot into Windows and I will slowly reinstall all the required software.  Thankfully it does boot quicker with the SSD in place.  However, I doubt that the time saved by a quicker boot up will ever compensate for the hours of effort it has taken me to do what should have been a simple upgrade!

It has been a long, arduous process and the provided software made that process even harder.

For anyone else attempting to upgrade an old Mac – be warned!

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3 Replies
JEDEC Jedi

Re: Experiences of upgrading an old Macbook running Bootcamp to an SSD

I'm sorry you experienced such a hard time with your upgrade, but it is good to hear that you were successful in the end.    I didn't realize how old your version of OSX was or I would have suggested Carbon Copy Cloner or a clean install of OSX.   I would have been happy to help you through the tough spots if you had posted an update on the issues you encountered.

 

 

Most times the whole upgrade & cloning process is fairly easy, but every system is unique and the instructions cover the most common setups and there are always exceptions to every rule.  It does appear some of Crucial's documentation does need some updating especially with regards to older versions of OSX.  I will make some suggestions to Crucial on your behalf.

 

I want to provide a little information regarding a some of the points you raised to further help others.   I'm labeling my points to address the ones from BorderReiver:

 

1)  Crucial's instructions for cloning OSX only applies to systems running OSX 10.6+ as long as the Recovery Partition has not been removed.   As BorderReiver discovered Carbon Copy Cloner is a very good app when a system doesn't have a Recovery Partition (it's a good app regardless).  Another option would be to install a clean version of OSX on the new SSD and then use Apple's Migration Assistant to transfer the user accounts, settings and even applications to the new SSD.  If you use software requiring license activation such as Microsoft Office, Adobe products, etc. you may need to reactive the license (side affect of proprietary software licensing methods).

 

2)  You should have been able to use the Acronis code to download & install Acronis onto your Windows 10 Bootcamp just as you would have with a non-Apple Windows system.  It seems there is another Crucial post here which includes a link to creating a bootable Acronis disk by using the Acronis app in Windows.

 

3, 4 &  5)  Windows on a Mac is more difficult than Windows on regular PC hardware.  Apple's hardware is a bit unique and Windows needs some help with it such as creating a partition for Windows to use as Windows does not know how to deal with OSX filesystems & partitons.  For another,  Apple only provides the drivers via Bootcamp.

 

I believe the image file was needed because of the method used to  prepare & work with the Bootcamp parititon.  If Acronis allows direct cloning, then it may be possible to skip the image creation process and just use Acronis during the "Restore" phase of the instructions after Bootcamp & Windows was installed.  I'm guessing it is an Apple/Windows/Bootcamp issue which forced this procedure.   Windows on Apple hardware is a bit different than Windows on standard PCs.  Apple does not provide tools to do anything more than installing Windows their way.  One of the benefits (downsides?) of being an owner of Apple hardware.

 

Windows was not already installed on the new SSD so Bootcamp Assistant was needed to prepare a partiton for the Windows installation.  As for it needing to install Windows onto the new Bootcamp partition on the new SSD, I'm guessing it was necessary so that the Bootcamp partition was completely configured as perhaps there is something necessary that Acronis is unable to copy.   I'm sure at the time the video was made they had tried putting the cloned image onto the newly created Bootcamp parition without success.

 

6)  Having Bootcamp Assistant show a Bootcamp parition is normal Apple behavior and it was only a virtual partition until you confirmed its creation.   Bootcamp Assistant's job is creating this partiton, so it makes sense to make it easy for the user to size it.

 

7)  The install Windows "normally"  means at this point it is no different than any other Windows install for any other PC.   It means if you did not understand a part of the install process past this point, you could search online for answers irrelevant of the Apple hardware.

 

8)  The video in the Crucial documentation specifically mentioned to only clone the Windows partition using Acronis.  Perhaps the newer version of Acronis is able to handle the Apple side as well.   The video also mentions further steps to perform after saved image is cloned to the new SSD such as Repairing the Windows installation using Startup Repair from the Windows installer.

 

9, 10, 11, 12)  Be very careful of the products used to clone the OSX partitons.  Besides using Apple's own Disk Utility, I am only personally familiar with two other options:  Carbon Copy Cloner and Super Duper.   While there are other more Windows centric products which say they can clone OSX, they do not keep the HFS+ filesystem.  The other Windows centric products convert the OSX filesystem to ExFAT which willl work, but I don't recommend it as it may cause unexpected problems since OSX was designed to work with HFS+.

 

While Clonezilla is a good product, it also has similar limitations working with HFS+ journaled filesystems which affects resizing the OSX partition.  Clonezilla and other open source apps usually require the destination drive to be the same size or larger due to the method used for cloning.  There are ways to make this work, but they can be a bit involved and I would not recommend it for non-technical users.

 

OSX 10.5.8 is a very old OS which has been unsupported by Apple and app developers for years so it is not surprising you had trouble getting things to work on it.  Also it is not surprising to have a company not support a product when a specialized unique copy is provided by another company.  This is a common industry practice with hardware & software.  The entity providing you with a product is the one responsible for providing support for it.  It may just have been the case that Acronis does not provide Mac software or support.

 

13)  ---

 

14)  It is hard to say why the Acronis restore did not work.  The video unfortunately did not annotate that section very well and I am unable to read the Acronis text in the video.   It's possible the current version of Acronis is slightly different so because the video text is illegible we cannot be sure clicking the similiar placed item will have the same result.  It is also possible the latest version of Acronis can no longer clone the Bootcamp partition or the procedure in the video needs to be modified for newer versions.

 

15)  Since your version of OSX is so old it may not support Windows 10.  Newer versions of OSX and Bootcamp Assistant I believe will take the Windows ISO you download from Microsoft and convert it into an Apple compatible Windows installer for your USB flash drive complete with the necessary Windows drivers so finding them elsewhere online would be unneccessary.

 

16)  Congratulations for seeing it through and not giving up.  If you would have posted the issues you encountered, I would have been more than willing to provide further assistance.   Your situation is a bit unique in that most Apple users would have upgraded their OS due to the fact that it is no longer supported by Apple and the app developers (I realize from your other post that you only use Windows on this laptop so it is understandable).  Of course Windows Bootcamp also added extra complications.   Also whenever you do something Apple never envisioned, it will take some work.  Apple is great in some aspects, but a nightmare in others as you just found out.

 

BorderReiver,  when you cloned the whole drive including OSX to the SSD with Acronis, did you ever try to use the Windows installer to Repair the Windows installation using Startup Repair?  The video (at the 10 minute mark) showed this was a necessary step in order to get Windows to boot properly.

 

Kilobyte Kid

Re: Experiences of upgrading an old Macbook running Bootcamp to an SSD

HWTech, thanks for taking the time to read the post and to respond. One reason that I bought a Crucial SSD instead of a cheaper one, was that I thought that I may have to make use of the support. However, I did not want to monopolise your time and I’m sure your bosses would not appreciate you giving simple step-by-step instructions that someone with a Mac ought to know.

In a way I felt a bit like a car driver that took a decision to change a wheel – which should have been a simple task well within my capabilities. However, I was then faced with documentation and instructions that started to talk about the internal workings of the engine management software!

As you rightly deduced, our total lack of knowledge about the Mac side of things did not help. (I even had to Google which was the Option key!) That is why we are totally reliant on the Windows side and why the Mac OS is so old. That is the main reason why I felt unable to go down the route in your original response to “perform a clean install of OSX and use Migration Assistant during the final setup stage to transfer your user accounts, settings & applications to the new SSD”. We do not have any Mac OS installation disks either.

I posted the main steps and hurdles for information only. There were many more on the way that I didn’t write. For example, I lost count of the number of times that I ended up swapping the new SSD in and out when attempting various solutions. For example, I thought that I would try and run Bootcamp on the new SSD when it was attached to the USB port – so that I could clone the Bootcamp partition over, only to find it would not allow me to run Bootcamp on a drive attached by USB. etc. etc.

To answer your final question, I tried so many options, that I cannot be totally sure. I followed the link to create a Windows installer and created one on a USB. As there was no DVD burning software on the Mac – I took the option of leaving it on the USB. From memory, the USB simply wasn’t recognised when I tried the repair. It was only when I had to do a similar process during the complete reinstallation of Windows, that I had the same problem. I used another PC to burn the USB image to a DVD and tried that – it worked. So the Windows repair might have worked at that stage had I had a disk available.

I do feel that the Video could be made clearer as the process is supposed to be simple to follow by people with even less technical ability than me.

Be warned, as I now have ‘successfully’ managed this task, I am considering trying to create a bootable SSD for my desk top and using the HD for data storage. This may not be the last you hear from me!

JEDEC Jedi

Re: Experiences of upgrading an old Macbook running Bootcamp to an SSD

I am not a Crucial employee, but just a regular user such as yourself trying to provide assistance to those in need.   The Crucial employees have "Crucial" in their name to distinguish them from the rest of us.   Some times it may take me a couple of days to respond to a post depending on my free time, but there are a couple of other regulars on here that will also assist if they are able.

 

A drive with a bootable Apple OS is able to be connected either internally or externally and it will boot just fine, but as you found out a Windows boot drive will only boot when connected internally.   It makes working with Apple systems much easier.

 

Feel free to ask for help on these forums and hopefully someone will be able to provide some assistance.  Also thank you for the feedback and updates.  Enjoy your upgraded laptop.