Home Tech Upgrading a 2011 MacBook Air to 480GB SSD

Upgrading a 2011 MacBook Air to 480GB SSD

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   The OWC kit includes everything you need and the video makes the changeover truly simple
The OWC kit includes everything you need and the video makes the changeover truly simple

“Installing the SSD in my 2011 MacBook Air was an absolute doddle,” wrote my friend Paul Gauntlett who has just successfully completed two upgrades, to his Air and to an iMac[1].

I have always been led to understand that swapping a drive on the MacBook Air is not for the faint hearted, but Paul’s experience gives us all courage.

OWC Aura

Paul chose the OWC Aura Pro+Envoy 480GB upgrade kit, which includes a separate enclosure to hold the old drive once you have swapped out the internal disk. At $720 (£455) is isn’t a cheap option but, as an after-market solution is good value. Paul was rapidly filling the old 256GB SSD drive in the Air and needed the extra space.

So how did it go? First thing to do is install the new drive in the Aura external module and clone from the internal disk. He used Carbon Copy Cloner for this, although SuperDuper would also do the job. He chose CCC because it can recreate the hidden Mountain Lion recovery drive on the new disk. This, he says, worked like a charm.

Next step was to remove the new SSD from the external drive enclosure and install it in the Air. The kit includes all the necessary materials, including screwdrivers, and replacing the drive took only ten minutes. OWC provide an excellent video which takes you through the procedure step by step.

Up and running

The 480GB drive is working well and Paul has installed the old 256GB drive in the Aura enclosure. “Initially,” he says, “the new drive was a little slow. I think this is just while the caches are being built up (CCC does not copy caches), but things are now up to speed and I am delighted.” There were no software problems other than needing to re-register Microsoft Office.

Clearly if you are buying a new Air it makes sense to specify the biggest drive you need from Apple. But as a way of putting new life into a one-year-old computer, Paul made the right choice. Just one word of caution. If you have purchased Apple Care, make sure to check that replacing the drive does not void the contract.

by Mike Evans, 1 September 2012


  1. I will cover the iMac installation in a separate post because it links nicely with my own experience of using an external SSD.  ↩