Non-tech savvy: Cloning Bootable External Drive to New SSD (Help)

Kilobyte Kid

Non-tech savvy: Cloning Bootable External Drive to New SSD (Help)

Hi everyone,


As the title suggests, not too tech-savvy, and was wondering whether anyone could tell me if I'm on the right path.


Background: my Macbook Pro (13", Mid-2012) suddenly stopped working at the start of the year, after a High Sierra upgrade- a faulty SSD apparently (MX500, 500GB SATA- only 4 months old at the time). After many weeks of troubleshooting, the SSD was returned to Crucial for replacement. In the interim, I was able to bootup and continue using my Macbook from an external drive.


Currently: Just received the replacement SSD (same as above) & in the process of installing it- a few Q's though! 

[i] as I've been using the external drive to boot for the past 2 months, I've accumulated a lot of info/content that I'd like to keep, and ideally swap over/onto the new SSD. 

[ii] there's quite a lot of info out there on how to clone a HDD in-situ (one that's functional & currently in the machine) to a new SSD, but I haven't found a single article on how to clone a bootable external to a new SSD.

[iii] The external drive is my only backup, so I'm trying to get off it ASAP (2 months using it is long enough!)

External= 3TB, with 800GB devoted to Time Machine and the remaining 2.2TB to bootable/docs (only 90GB of this bit has been used- but it's an important 90GB, which is what I'd like to transfer over to the new SSD).



(1) Can I clone my current bootable external to the new SSD? If so, would CCC do the job?

(2) Would the clone reflect my current settings/desktop/bookmarks?

(3) Do I need to physically install the new SSD before cloning?...or can I just put the new SSD in a caddy and clone, having two 'externals' in that case? (i.e.) the actual external drive + the SSD in a caddy, both attached via USB. (Trying to avoid having to take it all back out, should there be any issues with the cloning).

(4) Would the cloned SSD be ready-to-go (i.e.) bootable & a replica of my current desktop/settings, so I just need to install it and go from there?

(5) Any sites/links dealing with the specific issue of cloning a bootable external to a new SSD?


Thanks in advance for any help guys! 


p.s. Background is in medicine, so as simple as possible would be ideal! Smiley Wink Cheers.

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2 Replies

Re: Non-tech savvy: Cloning Bootable External Drive to New SSD (Help)

I believe I may have responded to your post on the Apple forums or I'm having Deja VuSmiley Happy


First, there is a possibility your hard drive cable could be bad and needs replaced.  This particular laptop model is known to have a very high failure rate for the hard drive cable.  The problems can be intermittant & varied.  If you continue to experience problems, then you should replace it and put some electrical tape beneath it as some people claim the case damages it and it is hard to find the new style cable except getting it directly from Apple.


1)  Yes, CCC can do what you want and it should be able to recreate the hidden Recovery Partition for you.  You may need to use the Advanced Mode so you can manually deselect items you don't want transferred from your external drive.  You will first need to "erase" the drive using Disk Utility so it creates a volume usable by OSX.  Just make sure it is "GUID".  Choose either HFS+ or APFS for the filesystem.


     This is actually a good idea in your case so you can test the cloned MX500 externally to make sure everything is good before installing it in the laptop.  This way if something doesn't work, you know the drive cable is most likely at fault.


2)  Yes


3)  Yes, that is perfectly fine.  You can even test booting it externally by pressing the Option key just after power on/restart to get the Apple boot menu.  Make sure the volume name for the SSD is different than your current external drive or you won't know which is which without disconnecting one of them.  


4)  Yes, the drive should be bootable and will include all items you selected in the advanced mode in CCC.


5)  CCC's own documentation and website should provide sufficient information.  If not, post back here and I can try to assist.


Another option to consider is installing a fresh copy of OSX to the MX500.   You can do this while the MX500 is connected externally.  Just make sure to use Disk Utility to "erase" it so it has a volume OSX can recognize for installation.  You can boot into Recovery Mode by pressing Command + R just after power on/restart which will give you an option to "reinstall OSX".  Better yet, disconnect your 3TB drive for now  before booting into Recovery Mode and allow the laptop to boot into Internet Recovery Mode.  The installer should prompt you for an install location where you should be able to choose the MX500. 


After the install, it will reboot so it is likely it will boot to your 3TB external drive if connected.  Just reboot again using the Option Boot and selecting the MX500.  During first boot, it will ask if you want to migrate your old system.  Before selecting the option, reconnect your 3TB now if you disconnected it earlier so OSX can find your old system for the migration.  If you went too far, go back a step so OSX will initiate another search for your old system.  It then should provide you options on what to transfer.  Depending on your setup you may be able to uncheck the backup items and only include the User Folder, settings and apps.   You can always use CCC to copy any remaining items later.  This method will require you to re-enter any license keys for proprietary software such as MS Office, etc.


No matter whether you clone the drive or install/migrate, you should remember to activate FileVault in the System Preferences --> Security --> FileVault so your drive is encrypted so your data is protected in case the laptop is lost.

Kilobyte Kid

Re: Non-tech savvy: Cloning Bootable External Drive to New SSD (Help)

Hi HWTech,


Thanks a lot for your detailed reply here (and on the Apple Forum  Smiley Wink )- it worked like a charm!


Insulated the SATA cable last year when I changed it, so was 'glad' it wasn't the same issue this time around.


Thanks again for all your help!