SSD Drive Data Transfer GuideTransferring or cloning your Mac's data onto a new PCIe or SATA SSD drive requires a bit of forethought before your SSD purchase. You'll likely need additional USB 3.0/3.1 or ThunderBolt external drive adapter or enclosure hardware for formatting, cloning an OSX sytem image, and testing the SSD before you perform the drive swap.
ThunderBolt SSD Enclosures & DocksThunderbolt to SATA
SATA To Thunderbolt Interface
SATA Thunderbolt Adapter
SATA 3 to Thunderbolt Cable
SATA 3 to Thunderbolt 2
Thunderbolt SSD Adapter
The absolute fastest way to transfer data onto a Mac SSD is using a Thunderbolt interface. At this point however, there are few single-drive ThunderBolt drive enclosures on the market. Most cost more than the SSD you may be planning to use.
Thunderbolt 2.5"/3.5" Drive Dock
Full Or Laptop Size SSD HDD Support
G-Tech ruggedized 10Gbps SATA Thunderbolt enclosure is basically the only readily available single drive Thunderbolt enclosure choice:
Integrated Tuck-Away Thunderbolt Cable
Another alternative is using a (now discontinued) Seagate Thunderbolt Adapter that's ideal for 2.5" laptop SSD drives. Though not technically an 'enclosure', this portable hard drive dock featureed a standard SATA connector for 2.5" drives. Just push the drive onto the SATA connector and you're ready to go.
TBolt Cable Included
USB 3.1 Adapters Docks EnclosuresGiven how expensive even the cheapest Thunderbolt products are (see above), USB is a more affordable choice. With the future pointing towards 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen2 storage using a Type-C interface, that's your best long-term bet. Thanks to backward compatibility with conventional Type-A USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports (with the right cable,) you can leverage a USB-C style SSD enclosure for transfers on Mac's old and new. Many new drive enclosures come with both a Type-C AND a Type-A cable in the box.
Comes With Both USB-C and USB-A Cables
USB 3.0 SSD Docking StationsAlternately there's a huge number of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 drive docks that are the cheapest way to help migrate your data onto a SSD. Often costing only $30-$35 they're a cheap solution for a Mac SSD drive swap, and the dock can be repurposed and used with your old mechanical HDD mechanism for a Mac backup drive after the SSD upgrade to your MacBook, iMac, Mac mini, or Macintosh Pro is complete.
2.5" & 3.5" Drives
Hi-Speed UASP SSD Support
Note that even if you have an older Mac, USB 3.0 is BACKWARD COMPATIBLE with USB 2.0 ports. So you can invest in a USB 3.0 case, dock or transfer cable regardless - and be ready for the USB 3.0 SuperSpeed future. You should also explicitly look for UASP SUPPORT for more efficient data transfer speeds when using solid-state drives.
USB 3.0 Transfer CablesAnother excellent piece of hardware than can help with an Apple SSD drive upgrade is a Universal transfer cable with SATA (and/or IDE) interfaces for both full-size and laptop drives and devices. Again, your money's best spent on a USB 3.0 - and NOT an older USB 2.0 model to make sure the Mac transfer onto SSD goes as fast as possible - with an eye towards continued usability in the future.
USB 3 Transfer Cable
Laptop SATA Dual-Interface Drive CasesMore versatile - and much faster than a simple USB 2.0 laptop disk enclosure - this dual-interface USB 3.0 + FireWire 800 bus powered portable 2.5" SATA drive case might be the right solution for some users such as video production people who have a significant investment in older legacy FireWire 400/800 video cameras and editing gear.
USB 3.0 + Dual FireWire 800
ICY-DOCK Full-Size 3.5" SSD Adapter For iMac or Mac ProFor Mac SSD upgrades in models with a standard, full-size 3.5 hard drive, the most elegant solution is a $25 IcyDock converter. Simply open the lid, plop in a 2.5" SATA SSD and close it! It's now ready to perform an SSD upgrade in older Mac Pro or iMac systems. It has standard 3.5 screw mounting holes for the guide screws or grommets.
No Tools Needed!
3.5" SSD Combo Interface Drive CasesIf you're doing a solid-state drive upgrade in a Mac Pro tower or iMac, you may want to repurpose the old drive as a backup solution for use with Apple's Time Machine or as an auxillary storage drive. Here, a combo interface 3.5" full-size drive enclosure may come in handy. Check out this state of the art full-size drive case with not only USB 3.0, daisy-chain dual FireWire 800 ports - but an eSATA connection as well:
eSATA, FireWire, USB 3.0 Ports
SSD Data Transfer How-ToOWC has a detailed overview of issues to be aware of when migrating your OSX system and files onto a new SSD. You can find their guide herem
Software To Clone Mac Data To SSDHardware is only part of the data migration equation. The right software can help with a SSD for Mac upgrade. A couple of free Mac drive cloning utilities for OSX that can help with the transfer your hard drive's data onto an SSD can be found at cnet.com's Mac download site. In particular, Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! CLONING a Mac's startup drive IS CRITICAL to copy all the invisible files that make OSX startup and retain proper file permissions for users files and applications - Highly recommended. Alternately, Apple's Migration Utility that comes bundled with OSX may be helpful in copying a complete bootable system, or in other instances, restoring from a recent TimeMachine backup onto the new SSD may do the trick.
Disclosure - Apple, the Apple logo, iPod, iPad, Macintosh iMac, Mac mini or MacBook, OSX and many others are a registered trademark of Apple Inc. in the United States Of America and other countries. Other computer peripheral, accessory, upgrade, add-on or gadget and gizmo mfrs, brands and product names that are mentioned at this web page are registered trademarks of their related corporation.