17in Macbook Pro Harddrive Replacement

Cory Blog, Hardware, Repair

When you live in Rapid City, Fargo, or anywhere in between, your Mac repair choices are slim, even slimmer if the closest town is a good 60 miles away.

Recently I had a person from North Dakota contact me whose 500G harddrive died on her beautiful 17″ Unibody Macbook Pro. So where I come from, replacing a harddrive is only a few steps but getting back all your stuff is a whole ‘nuther ball game. Luckily this photographer was smart and had recently generated a full Time Machine backup.

I was eager to get in this wondrous piece of hardware, specifically because it was a unibody. Now, for those who don’t know, Apple started making the Macbook Pro line of laptops with a unibody casing in October of 2008. This unibody is “one-body” – an entire casing made from one solid chunk of aluminum as seen below.

unibody macbook pro

Unibody Casing for Macbook Pros

For comparison, I have an old style Macbook Pro that is NOT a unibody (the Powerbook body style for those who are following along). I’ve taken this style of laptop apart before to replace the superdrive (CD/DVD) and like most laptops today, the process involves removing all sorts of little screws.

With the unibody, the dissemble process is pretty simple. Only a few long screws on the bottom hold a thin aluminum shield over the actual unibody section. Once exposed, the inner hardware can be removed by navigating around some wires and connectors.

But I was aiming for the harddrive. But to get there, it’s recommended to remove the battery, which intrigued me. On the unibodies, the battery is said to be not replaceable, like on the powerbook style Macbooks. But as you can see in this picture, all you have to do is pop off the bottom to expose and remove the battery. Now buying a replacement is another topic.

The 500G, 5400 RPM, 2.5 SATA harddrive is to the right of the battery. A few screws and it’s out.

Macbook Pro-inside

Macbook Pro-inside

The customer didn’t want to upgrade, so I put a new harddrive back in that was exactly the same as the original. Buttoned it all back up and powered it on. Now at this point, we HAVE to format the harddrive. Many people forget that step saying, “Oh no! My new harddrive is not recognized when I start it up!” Well yes, it won’t be useful until you format the new HDD to Mac OS Extended(Journaled). Unfortunately the customer’s Mac OSX install CD was badly, badly scratched, so I had to do some jerry-rigging to get OSX back on the harddrive, but after a few hours, the 17″ Macbook Pro was back to operating mode.

Since the Time Machine restore can take hours (even all day sometimes) to complete, I let the customer take care of it, only because she knew how and wanted to restore only certain things anyway. So at this point, I was done. Another successful computer repair.

Be on the look out for more successful computer repair stories coming in the near future. Follow the Repair category.

Featured image by Christoph Bauer