Momentus Mingus

So at the end of last week, it was that time. I’d been doing temporary countermeasures over the past month or two to put it off, but it was inevitable. I tried to run Illustrator, the program with which I do my painting for The Project, and while opening, it stopped and complained – I’d run out of hard drive space. Somehow, since what feels like only yesterday, I have filled (well, with 4GB spare) 320 GB of had drive space with…. Well… Who knows what? Lots of little bits of everything, I expect. So after a bit of research, I decided to go wild and get a 750GB 7200 rpm drive from Seagate – new on the market this year, apparently. Usually I wait for new things like this to have their creases ironed out, but it seems that they’re really just gluing two smaller drives together, and their 500GB version of the same thing seems to be thought of as reliable, so I decided what the hey. And this whole series of drives is called the Momentus, so surely that’ll be a good thing too.

This meant a fast trip to the always-fun Fry’s Electronics, in Burbank, about which you’ve maybe read a post from me before. Fast because it closes at 9:00pm and I was leaving the house at 8:30pm, but wanted to get it so I could begin the cloning process (see later) overnight, so as to get back to work on the computer the next day.

The trip was great, as I expected, made even better by the fact that the things I wanted were actually on the shelves – said hard drive (a steal at $99), an enclosure for it to make it USB accessible ($9.99) while I clone my existing drive to it, and some tools ($13.99), since Apple, fresh in their new role as Evil Empire, keep changing the screws on the inside of their electronics to odd sizes and shapes to discourage DIY work, trying to force you to take it into their amusingly called Genius Bar… Happily, people have been making screwdrivers to undo the five round pointed head screws on such models and selling them in kits. I found one. Hurrah! (Turns out that I did not need the one for the pentascrew… it was introduced on a different model than mine. The smaller Phillips head driver was good to have though, and as I’m always taking things apart and fixing them, the other numerous parts of the kit will be very useful in the future…)

The drawback of going at closing time at Fry’s is that you have the super-long line of everyone leaving. Actually, they are aware of this, and so the line moves quickly, since they staff all the 30+ checkouts. But then you are doomed to go past all the interesting mostly-confectionery things that line the route of the queue to the checkout. I usually get all high-minded about this and resist this obvious manipulation, this puny attempt to break my will, my resolve… and smile at all the packaging calling out to me as I go by. I tell myself have willpower…self-control…am determined to leave only with what I came for and certainly not sweets… but then I saw it. A whole spread of Altoids. Good try, but no cigar… I can get them at Trader Joe’s… but! Liquorice flavour!!? Spearmint!? Wow!

I caved and got three flavours…

Back home I quickly opened up the packages (the electronics – I already opened the liquorice altoids in the car) and got to work. I put the new drive into the enclosure to make it USB ready, just plugging it in the obvious way (the instructions that usually come with these things sometimes talk about first switching the drive to master mode… that’s not needed for these drives. If in doubt, google your brand of HD you are installing).

Then I connected the hard drive to Mingus (that’s the name of the computer, by the way) using the USB connection, and ran disk utilities to check that it was all fine (i.e. visible) and then did a format of it (just run erase on it, and choose the ‘Mac OS Extended (Journaled)’ option). Then I ran the basic (free online) version of SuperDuper, choosing the option to clone the entirety of my existing hard drive to the new drive. In other words, I let it make an identical bit bit by copy of my existing full hard drive to this larger hard drive. This takes a while, so I set it running and went to sleep. (Good idea to shut down lots of other programs, and to disable any automatic sleep or shutdown schedules you might have on your computer…)

The next morning I was ready to change over drives. First, I checked that the actual clone was a good clone. The size of occupied space seemed about right (with oodles of space left over – hurrah!) but a good test is to make sure that one can start the computer from this hard drive. So I went into System Preferences and set the boot disk as the external drive (that I’d now renamed the same as the one I usually call my hard drive) and restarted… after a few minutes, it did indeed reboot from the external hard drive, and all seemed fine and identical to my usual experience of the computer. Hurrah!

So time to go in and actually put it into the computer. I was about to follow a bunch of detailed instructions at (which I highly recommend – look for your model there for lots of tasks you might want to do under the bonnet) but then I remembered that one of the things I remember being awesome (yes, I said that) about getting this model back in 2009 (or was it 2008? mid 2009 I think) was the fact that the (then new) unibody design had super-easy access to the hard drive. So no digging around and removing keyboards and so on and so forth as I’ve done on two or three other models in the last few years (once on my old Powerbook, and twice for friends and relatives.) So, once I’d opened the battery compartment with a simply flip of a lever and taken out the battery, I had one screw to undo to take out the hard drive. One screw. So I did that, unplugged it the exsiting drive, swapped off and onto the new one (removed from the temporary USB enclosure) the four T6 torx screws used to snug the drive into place under the brackets designed to hold it, and put it the new drive in. This took about 10 minutes, tops.

Then the moment of truth… switching it back on and waiting for what happens after the grey screen…. Yes! There are my screensaver poppies!

Back to work, with my files rattling around (er… metaphorically) inside all that oodles (403GB+) of space… Mingus is reborn again!



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12 Responses to Momentus Mingus

  1. Ben says:

    Back when I got my laptop (as a gift), I upgraded its RAM and swapped out its 80 GB hard drive for a 500 GB one. I think I removed 11 screws (the machine was not designed with the intention that the end user swap out the drive). Had to take off the whole back panel, but at least didn’t have to remove the keyboard.

    Also built my entire desktop machine myself.

    There’s really nothing scary in dealing with electronics as long as one has a clean workspace and can follow instructions.

  2. Hmmm. The 750 GB Momentus drive doesn’t come with the Sudden Motion Sensor, like the 500 GB model does.

    Seems like a dodgy choice for a laptop drive.

    (Look for the drives with model numbers ending in “ASG”, instead of “AS”.)

  3. Moncho says:

    Wow!! I love your blog. And this post is incredible useful for me. Thanks a lot Clifford!!! 🙂

  4. Clifford says:

    Hi Jacques… Good to hear from you! Thanks for pointing that out. I missed that entirely… Never occurred to me that they leave something like that out. On the other hand, since the laptop largely sits on my desk and acts as a desktop machine (I hardly travel with it these days, ad even less so since getting an iPad last year), perhaps it is not too much of an issue…

    But thanks!


  5. Clifford says:

    Moncho – happy to help….


  6. Clifford says:

    Hi again Jacques… Looked this up a bit. Seems that MacBook pros, mine included I think, have built in sudden motion sensors that do the emergency parking, so perhaps it is not necessary to also have it on the HD… Will look some more later.



  7. Thanks for pointing that out.

    By unhappy coincidence, my laptop drive is starting to act flaky, so I was researching possible replacements, when I saw your post.

    I missed that entirely…

    Not surprising, really. Those drives come in a profusion of models, with different features. There are no fewer than 7 different versions of the 500GB Seagate Momentus


    currently available, only two of which have the Sudden Motion Sensor.

  8. Whoops! 8 versions; I forgot


  9. Gintaras Duda says:

    Thanks for this post! My 2007 MacBook Pro came with a 120 Gb drive and I’ve been thinking about replacing it for a long, long time. I’ll pull a drive out of a tower any dya, but I wasn’t sure what went into replacing the drive on a MacBook Pro – now I know. Unfortunately, having an older model means that I need to take quite a bit of it apart to install the drive, but it seems like a worthwhile afternoon project.

  10. Clifford says:


    I’ve done such work on a model like that too… I don’t think it is too long a task. Just get all the right screwdrivers in advance. Nothing more annoying than being in the middle of a job, getting all excited by the progress, and then having to stop and go to the shops to get some stupid missing tool…

    While you’re in there, top up the memory too.

    Have fun!



  11. Ele Munjeli says:

    Make sure you save the package for the new drive! Seagate won’t take returns unless you pack it with the original style of packing; it’s a pain. You have to mail in the drive if it fails. I won’t buy a drive from them after one failed a few years ago while still under warranty and it was such a pain to replace.

    Viva SuperDuper! Love that thing!

  12. Amy says:

    Here’s the other Momentus Mingus…Charles.

    He’s probably “Moanin'” because he found out his hard drive doesn’t come with a sudden motion sensor.