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What’s SATA ’bout? The Problem with Older Laptops and Hard Drive Upgrades


Even if your older MacBook is still in a good condition, you might face some problems when bumping up its storage limits with your iPhone media materials and music. It is especially possible if you prefer not to use iCloud for storage and synchronization.

In such case, upgrading your drive may be a logical decision. Apple has made it easy to insert a 2.5-inch drive in older MacBook Pro models: you push some screws on the underside, remove the battery, and disconnect the drive interface cable along with some fixing screws. Reverse the process and you are done. Using an external storage device, you can copy your current drive. But be aware that only an Apple-supplied drive will work and most older models may not accept 1TB.

A few words about SATA

For many years before recent time, nearly all Apple laptops used SATA in version I, II and III as the tool for moving materials to and from a computer to a drive. In modern MacBook Pros it has been replaced with PCIe.

The first version of SATA offers 1.5Gbps per second; the second one offers 3Gbps; and the third one doubles to 6Gbps. All these versions use the same connector type. However, there is a mysterious point here: MacBook Pro uses SATA III, but Apple proposes only SATA II hard drive. Why so? Maybe, for the cost reasons…

Nevertheless, drive controllers in a laptop are backwards compatible and therefore SATA III controller supports SATA II hard drive, but it does not always work when reversed. The problem is that there is a few information about this on the Internet. It is so probably because many hard drives were hybrid during a period when SATA II shifted to SATA III and supported both versions.

Thus, a hard drive that accepts SATA II only does not just fail to work with SATA’s II controller, but makes efforts to remove data and bursts up periodically. Older Mac models have chipset that supports SATA III and chances are that none of SATA III HDDs will work with them, which is somehow strange.

According to the online resources and forums, many Mac users face this issue since 2012. After fighting this problem for years, they have found a solution: get yourself a SATA II drive or a SATA III with SATA II mode.

Probably, we will never find out the real reasons for this issue, but we have found a simple solution to recommend you. We have tried to seek a SATA-II 1TB drive out, cloned and swapped the drive and it worked. Currently, this is the only solution we have found, basing on the recommendations of users found online.

Do you have problems with hard drive’s speed?

The most common problem for all Mac users is a hard drive that starts decelerating after time. The reason for this is much more obvious than a situation with SATA II and SATA III. As a rule, hard drives slow down because users unintentionally collect trash on their computers. We mean such unnecessary things as temporary files, cookies, browser files, etc. To get rid of them, you just need to clean hard drive on Mac. Make sure to get the best cleaning software from Macspeed and see your MacBook working as fast as new.