Was my Mac Pro really slowing down, or did it just feel that way?

Why did it sometimes take such a long to open an application — or even just a folder? Why did the hard drive sound like it was thrashing around, taking so long to do simple things?  It couldn’t for be lack of free space since I had over 200 gigabytes unused on the 750 GB drive startup drive.

I decided to run Disk Utility in an attempt to check and repair the drive. It detected disk directory problems with the drive, but unfortunately was not able to repair them. That’s not a good feeling!

I’ve been backing up my drive regularly but I sure didn’t want to go through the painful process of reconstructing all my system software, applications, fonts and work documents if (when) the drive crashed. Reformatting the drive would probably clear up the directory problems, but I really didn’t want to backup, reformat (erase), and reload to the same suspect drive. So I decided to replace the drive. Here’s how I did it.

Western Digital Caviar SATA 1TB Hard Drive

I purchased a new Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA hard drive from Best Buy for $99.

After shutting down my Mac Pro, it was incredibly easy to insert the new drive into one of the three open drive bays. I did not remove the original faulty startup drive.

I restarted the computer, formatted the new drive with Disk Utility, and then fired up SuperDuper, my go-to backup utility. I directed SD to copy everything from the original hard drive to the new one — essentially creating an exact clone. It took about six hours to copy the entire 550 gigabytes to the new drive.

I then switched the Startup Disk (System Preferences) to the new drive and clicked Restart. The computer started up just as before only this time the new drive was in control.

Everything looked the same  — which is what I expected — except for the actual volume name. Since I wanted everything to be consistent including all file paths, I renamed both volumes so my newest drive was now called Macintosh HD — and the old drive Macintosh ORG. I then unmounted the original drive so I wouldn’t accidentally use it without realizing it.

The results? After about five days of use, my computer is running faster and quieter than before. And I have quite a bit more free space since the new drive is 25% larger than the original.

Eventually I’ll reformat the original drive and perhaps use it for something else. But I’m in no hurry!