SSD Drive Data Transfer Guide

Transferring 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 & Docks

Thunderbolt to SATA
SATA To Thunderbolt Interface
SATA Thunderbolt Adapter
SATA 3 to Thunderbolt Cable
SATA 3 to Thunderbolt 3 Adapter
SATA 3 to Thunderbolt 2
Thunderbolt SSD Adapter
PCIe to Thunderbolt 3 Enclosures

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. And sadly, many 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:

10Gbps Rugged Thunderbolt SSD Drive Case

Integrated Tuck-Away Thunderbolt Cable

USB 3.1 Adapters Docks Enclosures

Given how expensive even the cheapest Thunderbolt to PCIe or SATA SSD adapter 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 new Type-C AND an old Type-A cable in the box.

High-Performance Plugable SATA Drive Enclosure

Comes With Both USB-C and USB-A Cables

USB 3.0 SSD Docking Stations

Alternately 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.

USB 3.0 SATA Drive Dock

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 Cables

Another 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.

Newer Technologies

USB 3 Transfer Cable

Laptop SATA Dual-Interface Drive Cases

More 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.

Combo Drive Interface Case

USB 3.0 + Dual FireWire 800

ICY-DOCK Full-Size 3.5" SSD Adapter For iMac or Mac Pro

For 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.

Laptop 2.5" to 3.5" SSD Converter

No Tools Needed!

3.5" SSD Combo Interface Drive Cases

If you're doing a solid-state drive upgrade in a Mac Pro tower or iMac, you may want to repurpose the old SATA drive as a backup solution for use with Apple's Time Machine or as an auxillary storage drive. A combo interface 3.5" full-size drive enclosure or dock may come in handy. Check out this state of the art full-size drive dock with not only USB 3.0 but Thunderbolt 2 ports as well.

Combo TBolt2 + USB3 Drive Dock

For 2.5" or 3.5" SATA Drives

SSD Data Transfer How-To

OWC 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 SSD

Hardware 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'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.

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