By default, OS X installation media isn’t shipped with Macintosh computers – there is also no information about purchasing installation media. It seems that Apple wants to prevent that “homebrew macs” are built.
This is a problem if you bought a Mac with a small or slow hard drive (saved money in the wrong place) and want to replace it. That’s what happened to me – I bought a Mac Mini with a 500 GB hard drive (5400 rpm) in 2011. Meanwhile, I’m nerved by the boot times and application startup time forced by the slow hard drive. After rebuilding my Thinkpad T420s I got a 160 GB spare SSD that I wanted to use for the Mini. Without the installation media I can’t install OS X on it.
There is a tool named Carbon Copy Cloner. This mighty tool is amongst others able to clone a whole OS X installation on a second medium. Although the tool isn’t cloning bitwise which would be bad when cloning from hard drive to a SSD. Carbon Copy Cloner rather creates the needed partitions and copies the directory tree recursive.
Before doing this task I created a complete image of my hard drive to a second one (as “golden backup”) using the OS X recovery mode. After that I formatted the SSD with HFS+ and cloned the complete hard drive onto it.
Assembling the SSD – or: IT Lego with annoying fumble factor
After the data including the Recovery HD had been cloned from the hard drive to the SSD using a USB bridge (which took a hour), it was time for a test boot. The boot completed without any errors. The last task was to assemble the SSD into the Mini’s case.
On iFixit.com I found a very detailed instruction how to replace the built-in hard drive of the Mini. While reading the instruction I re-realised why I dislike Apple. Why the hell do I need special tools for pulling the mainboard out of the case of the Mini?
I can’t understand why the Mini was designed in that way. That and soldered memory and non-replaceable built-in batteries are fitting perfectly in the companies culture – sell products, that can’t be modified afterwards and need to be repaired / replaced for a lot of money. The Mac Mini is the only Apple computer I got in my network – and because of the arrant product design by Apple this won’t change in future. I’m missing the freedom to modify or repair things afterwards – especially in newer Macs, this is more than disastrous. I can replace any part in my notebook, the most things without special tools – this can’t be done with MacBook’s. Even if the mobile devices of Apple look nice and got nice hardware, I won’t spend money for a trimmed and massively overprived notebook.
To replace the hard drive of my Mac Mini I had to buy a special tool. Fortunately this tool is available at a pair price at the iFixit store. After I got the tool it took nearly two hours to assemble the SSD. It was more then “fumbly” to disassemple the Mini – it took a lot of time and nerves to replace the hard drive. I’m sure, I won’t execute another modification again in the future…