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Upgrading a Macbook

Don't even stop to think about it. Just get 2GB of 200-pin SO-DIMM RAM (NewEgg is a good source for this) and a bigger HD and your lowly white bottom of the barrel MacBook will be running with the best of them. After doing this my machine which used to come to a crawl when I opened Excel and Firefox at the same time, now has Firefox, Word, Excel open and Windows Vista running under parallels desktop and it is still speedier than before.

It is pretty simple to do. Here are the steps:

Read the Instructions

First go to Apple's website and read about replacing memory: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303721 This will tell you how to remove the MacBook battery and show you a diagram about the metal "L" shaped bracket that you need to remove. It doesn't say much more about that, so I will. To remove it you need a small philips head screwdriver. There are three screws in the long side which attach it. There are NO screws on the short side. The screws are captive, which means they don't come out of the metal piece. Loosen them, but don't try to pull them out. You will appreciate this fact when it comes time to put them back in.

Remove the SO-DIMM Memory

Now pull the metal piece out starting at the top of the "L". Be gentle, there is electro-static shielding on the back side of it. But don't worry, it would be hard to break. When this is removed you see two levers, one for each bank of memory. Flip the levers towards the left to eject the existing memory. Apple recommends that you should replace memory in pairs, but data I've seen doesn't show much performance loss if you don't. In other words, if you only have enough money now for 1GB of RAM, buy a 1GB SO-DIMM and pair it with one of the 256MB ones already in there. When you get some more spending money buy another 1GB and replace the 256MB. Buying two 512MB chips would be a waste of money. Back to removing them, Flipping the lever is all there is to it. Carefully note the orientation of the chips, particularly the little notch. It is easiest if you have your new memory ready, then eject the old, and immediately put the new stuff in. That way you won't forget and have to read the tiny diagram. Push the new memory in until it is firmly in there, 1GB chips seem to use a thicker substrate (maybe more layers on the PCB for routing or shielding?) so it takes some effort. If you are happy with your Hard drive you can stop there.

Upgrading the Hard Drive

Why do they fill up so fast? 60GB is just too small. I got a 160GB drive and sooner or later it will be too small. Anyway, HD's are pretty cheap. You are looking for a 2.5" SATA notebook drive. NewEgg has these as well. While you are at it, buy an external HD enclosure which has Firewire or USB2. Your MacBook can boot from either of these. Initially I thought, I'd just do it once, put the new blank drive in the Mac and the old drive in the enclosure, but then I thought that sometimes drives are DOA so I took a slightly longer route. Put the new HD in the enclosure, Hook it to your mac. Go to Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility.app and run it. Erase the drive and partition it if you want. Give it a name., and most important set it to be bootable. Then Get a copy of "Carbon Copy Cloner" and clone the old disk onto the new one. This will take some time. An hour or more. Just let it run. It might be a good idea to clean old files and empty the trash BEFORE you do this (maybe next time...). When the cloning is done the fun starts.

Removing the Hard Drive

The HD lives behind the short leg of the "L", so do this at the same time you are doing the memory. You will note a small white plastic tag. Pull on it. The old HD will slide out. Be prepared with a TR9 torx screwdriver. This is a pretty small size. If you don't think you have one, buy one before you start. As with the memory, note the position of the connector. When you pull things out, keep them in the same orientation (left side to the left, top side to the top) so you don't get confused. Remove the 4 black screws on the side that hold the stainless steel caddy to the old disk. Replace it with the new one. Slide it back in. That is it!

Put the MacBook back together

From here, put the "L"metal back, starting at the end of the short leg. You have to press a bit on the long leg to hold the memory levers in, but it shouldn't be too difficult. I got the screws started, then went back over them for a final tightening. After this pop the battery back in and you are done! You can now take your old HD and put it in your new enclosure for a back-up external drive. Nothing wasted at all (well except the ridiculous 256MB memory which you can sell on Ebay or keep in a drawer just in case your new memory has issues.

I'm pretty familiar with computers, but this really was easier than I thought it would be. Well worth the effort.

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  • Comments (1)

    Holie Yang:

    What happens when u delete something. Does the memorie u spent on it go back to the computer? Yes or no.

    Yes it does. When a file is deleted the space which was allocated for that file is made free for the computer to write over. -Jack

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