One of the problems I saw when Apple introduced the MacBook Air was the lack of expandability. Not only can you not upgrade the RAM in these machines, but you also cannot upgrade the solid state drive (SSD) space. Or, so Apple claims…..
I use my MacBook Air when I travel. It is a 2011 model with a 120GB SSD which is a terrific light-weight and powerful companion. For most of the time since purchaseing it, I have been fighting the space issues on the SSD and wishing I had purchased one size bigger.
A couple of months ago, I had the need to run PC software on it so I installed VMWare Fusion and Windows 7. To do this, I had put my computer on a serious diet, which meant that I deleted enough to put the virtual machine disk on it. But, rather than having a machine that was close on storage space, I ended up with a machine completely out of space. One of my thoughts was to replace it with a newer model with a larger SSD, but that is expensive, and the machine was still plenty fast for the work I do while on the road.
I ran across an ad for Other World Computing (OWC) that claimed to have an upgrade for my 2011 MacBook Air’s SSD to a larger size with greater 6G speeds, so I had to check it out. OWC has upgrades to 240GB and 480gb that are plug in compatible with the MacBook Air. In addition, they have a case where I can reuse the original SSD as a sleek new external drive. With pricing for the 240GB version at $319, it was much cheaper than a new computer, so I decided I needed to give it a try.
The installation kit includes the upgraded drive, a tapered aluminum Envoy storage solution case, a Torx T-5 screwdriver, and a Pentalobe compatible driver. This was everything I needed to install the replacement SSD in my MacBook Air (OWC even has detailed videos on their website describing the process). With all the parts and my MacBook Air laying on a soft cloth, I setup my iPad and began the video. Fifteen minutes and a dozen or so screws later, I had the upgrade complete. I then installed my old 128GB SSD in the external case, and began the data migration process.
The external case is a fast USB3, but my 2011 MacBook Air is just USB 2, so it took about an hour and a half to migrate my data from my old drive in the external case to the new drive in my computer. I did the migration using the restore utility inside Disk Utility, and it all went without a hitch.
It really feels good to have 110GB of additional breathing room in my storage. This gave me the opportunity to put some of the applications back on that I was forced to delete in order to get VMWare Fusion enough space back on the machine. It also allowed me to move more of my data files I want for travel onto the machine, and still have plenty of free space.
In the end, I spent about the same had I purchased the larger SSD in the beginning, but I also now have a very fast, small and lightweight 120GB SSD drive in an external case which can also be used on other computers. Taking that into account, this was a much less expensive solution.
The question of it being faster with this new SSD still remains. My MacBook Air was very fast to begin with, so it is a little hard to tell if the drive is much faster. The documentation leads me to believe it could be as much as twice as fast for disk reads. Let me just say, it is fast enough for the work I need it to do.
I would definitely recommend this solution for anyone with a MacBook Air and not enough free space. OWC also has upgraded SSD drives for other Macs that I believe would be just as easy to install. Overall, I am very happy with this upgrade. Check out all the possibilities at the Other World Computing website.