Surgery on my Mac

I performed a little surgery on my late 2012 Mac Mini.  It was getting pretty slow when launching applications (Lightroom, I’m looking at you), so I decided to do a little upgrade.  I found an SSD drive on sale (250GB) and decided to make a DIY Fusion drive.

I ordered a kit from eBay with the cables and tools required, and this weekend, rolled up my sleeves and opened up the Mac.

Before doing that, I was furiously making backups of all kinds.  I have a TimeMachine server on the Qnap NAS; brought that up to date.  Made a full backup with a free app called SuperDuper just in case.  Purchased a basic copy of WinClone to make a copy of my Boot Camp partition.  Then I copied the TimeMachine backup to an external drive (now that’s paranoia for you).

Then, I created a bootable USB key with High Sierra in case I had to completely reinstall the operating system.

When I was satisfied that I had enough backups, I opened up the Mac, carefully labelling all the parts and screws that I took out.  To my surprise, the original hard disk was already installed in the secondary position.  The cable I had received was for a secondary drive, not a primary one.  Fortunately, there was enough room for me to use the cable anyway and tape it down into position.

Then came the moment of truth.  I powered up in recovery mode and tried to create the Fusion drive.  Wouldn’t work.  I was crestfallen.  I had formatted the SSD drive to test it out and make sure it worked.  Maybe that was the problem.  I wiped everything off the SSD and tried again.  Success!  I managed to create the Fusion partition and initialize it.  Hurrah!

Now what needed to be done was to restore the operating system from one of my backups.  Since I had erased everything, I reinstalled High Sierra and was offered by the Migration Assistant to restore a backup to the new drive.  I pointed the system to my TimeMachine and lo and behold, it started to migrate everything to the new drive.  This part was painfully slow.  It was worse than watching paint dry.  I think my beard had time to change to a lighter shade of grey.

Finally, I could restart the system.  Um, wait a second, my old users (the kids) were gone.  My apps were there but all of the settings were gone.  Rats!

I restarted from the recovery mode and selected the option to fully restore from a backup.  After waiting another interminable period where my beard grew lighter again, it was finally time to restart.

It worked!

My Mac is back as it was before the surgery.  Only now, it is much much faster.  Boot times have gone from minutes to seconds.  Launching Lightroom is a pleasure again.  My Mac Mini has a new lease on life.  How many people can say that they’ve been using a computer for nearly six years and it could last another two or three?  I’ve never had a computer this long.

Oh, and my Boot Camp partition survived the operation completely unaffected.

I may be older and greyer, but my computer just got younger.

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