Rebuilding a Mac Mini (early 2009)


This weekend I decided to rebuild the family’s Mac Mini.  It’s the early 2009 model and I hadn’t done it since we got it in March of 2009.  Even worse, I had done the import data step (or whatever Apple calls it) which brought over all of the data files and apps from our previous Mac.  AND that install goes back to before 2005, as far as I can remember.  SO, to say that “cruft” had built up in the operating system, is probably a bit of an understatement.

The rebuild went pretty smoothly, especially since I had a couple of spare hard drives.  I hooked up a spare USB drive and formatted it for use with the Mac.  I then used Carbon Copy to clone the internal hard drive onto the USB drive.  (Carbon Copy is a great little app that I used several years ago and I was happy to see it was not only still around, but updated as well.)

Once I had my backup, I shut down the Mac and replaced the internal hard drive.  I had purchased the hard drive last fall to use with my work laptop, but I got a new work laptop (with awesome dual SSDs) so I wasn’t using it anymore.  The replacement drive (Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420AS 500GB 7200 RPM 2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Notebook Hard Drive) has more than double the original’s capacity and is also faster.  I’ll have to keep an eye on the temperature, since that 7200 drive will run hotter.

Opening the Mac Mini is not for the easily intimidated!  That cool little case is quite the pain to open.  Luckily, OWC put a video together here

After replacing the drive, I then installed a clean copy of OS 10.5 using the DVDs that came with the Mac.  After the OS, it was time to reinstall the apps.  I downloaded some of the freeware, just to make sure I had the latest versions.  For the rest, I just copied from the backup cloned drive to the new drive.  (I love the way most Mac apps are written – with almost everything contained within a “package” that I can just copy from one drive to another.  MUCH better than the Windows way of using shared DLLs and the registry to store critical pieces that the app needs in order to run!)

The whole process took longer than I would have preferred, but it was long overdue.  It definitely “feels” faster, especially boot time and application launches.

Print | posted @ Monday, January 17, 2011 1:45 AM