Changing to SSD is like getting a new computer
December 26, 2015 | 8:20 am

The past weeks I have been reinstalling all my software on my MacMini after upgrading to a large SSD disk. Result is amazing. Here are some good advice on how to plan it and do the upgrade. A lot of computer stuff but this is a description targeted for musicians.

The past many years my music computer has been a MacMini. Not the latest model but the one before which is actually better (4 core CPU and both hard drive and RAM can be upgraded)

I was running with the original internal hard drive of 1 TB. When I got my MacMini I transferred the data and software from a MacBook Pro and this also meant an upgrade from Lion to Mountain Lion. Later this was upgraded to Maverick right after it came out. And what a load of problems that gave! It took months before all the software programs were updated to work and several Maverick updates, So my lessons learned is that a music computer should not be upgraded before the new OS version and all the main software have been bug fixed. That is why I skipped Yosemite and waited until El Capitan got mature. I felt that now was the right time to upgrade.

As the years passed and I got more and more plugins for Logic and I made more and more songs, the space on the hard disk grew. And I reached a level where I felt I had to consider if I had space to install some big tens of gigabytes sample libraries. And more important.. My MacMini runs 24 hours. It is always on so I can just sit down and practice and work on my current song when I want to. So that little 2.5 inch hard drive had been spinning quote many hours. And we all know what happens one day. My experience and recommendation is to replace a 2.5 inch hard drive every 2 years and a 3.5 inch every 3 years.

Now a MacMini is not that easy to upgrade. You have to know what you are doing. But no worries. There are plenty of good videos on Youtube that shows what to do. I watched 3-4 of them. And it is important that you get the right tools. I recommend getting a kit of small Torx and hex drivers or bits and a small plastic tool to lift up the small connectors. Watch the Youtube videos and you know what I mean.
I needed more space than 1 TB. I also wanted to change to SSD for more speed. Ouch! A 2 TB SSD is expensive. But the Samsung 850 Pro 2 TB was within reach (900 dollars).

Alternative is to add an external hard drive on the Thunderbolt port and put all the sample libraries on that. But I wanted all on one disk.

Now came the big questions Upgrade and copy to new disk or start from scratch?

I remember from the move to the MacMini that all the software had to be reactivated after the move. And worst, all the Native Instruments plugins had to be reinstalled anyway. They still do not support reactivation when you move to a new drive.

So from scratch it was.

This is the steps.

First I added the new SSD as an external drive using a Thunderbolt interface (you can also use USB but it is a little slower but much cheaper).

Then I got El Capitan from the App store and during the installation I selected the external SSD as the target drive. And when the installation is near complete I selected to install as a new system and not transfer anything.

Once the new disk is running and the system has booted and an upgrade has happened of the system (why do you have to upgrade a systen you just downloaded???) I turned off the Mini, disconnected everything and look it to the "surgery room".

The swap of the old and new hard drive went very easy. With the right tools, good light, and the Youtube video, it went very easy.

So with the old hard drive on the Thunderbolt and the new SSD inside the "fun" could begin.

Now I need to warn you. The next steps can take DAYS if you have as many plugins as I have!!

First was to reinstall Logic Pro from the App store. It is important to start with Logic Pro before you install all the plugins so you do not end up in a big bang and crash where you do not know which plugin caused it. Logic first. Then one plugin at a time.

Then download all additional content for Logic. This is a many hours download!

Next step was to install the Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate from the USB hard drive it comes with. That takes hours. Then you open the Native Instruments service center and activate it (with the serial number that came with it) and upgrade all the plugins. And that means downloading and reinstalling all you just just installed! Grrr! Why cant they just make an installer that does this in the first place?? You have to install everything first and then upgrade. Well. This takes a full day! And once all is upgraded you have to go back and install all the freebees you have gotten from Native Instruments as xmas gifts etc. It is important to have the installers and serial numbers for those in a safe place. Good I have that. And once they are installed guess what! Yes they also need to be upgraded.

The next step is to install all the 3rd party Kontakt and Reaktor libraries. And this is where the old disk comes in. They are usually installed in /Users/Shared and can just be copied over from the old disk. Few will then have to be activated inside the Kontakt Service center app. But most you need to manually add to the quick load feature inside Kontakt.

My next was Omnisphere. I originally bought that on DVDs and upgraded to Omnisphere 2. You can pay 10 dollars on the Omnisphere site and buy a complete download of Omnisphere 2 incl all the sample libraries. It is a good 60 GB download. Yep. Here goes most of a day or night again. But it is worth it. Remember to store this in a safe place (in my case a NAS).

Then install. And yes. Upgrade. Very small and easy upgrade.

Next was plugins from U-he like Zebra 2, Diva etc. All you need is the serial number! You download each software from so you the latest version right way and once installed you activate them inside Logic by adding the plugin one by one to a track and enter the serial when prompted.

Same with similar plugins from other places. Each time I downloaded a fresh new installer. In some cases from the website. In some cases from the user account on the website. Many are very good at listing what you have purchased and links to the latest version. Some even show your serial number.

Each time I install a new plugin I open Logic Pro and make sure it works and gets activated.

Last steps is to install the misc patch/sound libraries I have. In many cases the easy way was to copy from the old disk. Problem is always to find out where they are.

I really recommend that you do this when you purchase anything like plugins, sound libraries etc. Always store the download in a safe place. On a NAS inside a directory for that plugin is a good way. And also save the email with the invoice and serial numbers as text files in that same directory so you can find them easily. And when you get upgrades, save the upgrade download in this directory. Make sure to rename the files so you know what is what. You have forgotten 2 hours later. Rename right away. Do this first. Then run the upgrade.
And remember to have a backup system of the NAS also!!!! I have lost two NASes now. One where the NAS went up in smoke. And one where the disk crashed. In both cases I was saved by the USB backup disk connected to the NAS.

Finally I copied all my songs from the old harddrive to the new SSD.
And I installed the software like Thunderbird email and Google Chrome etc. That also takes time. It is also a good time to NOT install the software you never really use.

After 4 full days everything was installed fresh and everything up to date. And no old garbage.

And how is it?

Fantastic. First! The new disk only has 600 GB of data. The old had nearly 850 GB! So the old had 250 GB of redundant sample libraries from Logic 9, Garageband, Jam packs, OS X upgrades etc etc. So I could actually had gotten away with just moving to a 1 TB SSD at half the price. The clean up gave 250 GB space! Well. It looks cool to have 1.5 TB free space.

And the speed. Oh the speed. smiley The Mini boot very quickly. No problem to power it off anymore. Logic pro loads in 2 seconds. A song with 20 tracks and gigabytes of samples to load, loads in less than 10 seconds. It took a minute before.
When you change instrument in Omnispere or Kontakt they load almost instantly. It is so cool!

SSD here we come!

One little detail. An SSD works better in the long run if you enable A feature call trim. Trim tells the SSD that a file is deleted and that the SSD can zero out the space. It is a lot of technical details. But in short an SSD needs to make space empty before it can be reused and it is best that it does that all the time and not when it runs out of virgin unused cells. Trim has not been implemented very well in the early days and data loss occurred for people as a result. Apple has for a long time disabled trim for all SSDs except a few that they had approved.

Today in 2015/2016 the trim support is working in most newer SSDs. Apple has now enabled trim support in El Capitan. You need to enable it manually from the terminal.

Make a full back up first - just in case!

To enable trim open a terminal and type

sudo trimforce enable

And say yes to selling your soul to the devil (or some similar loud warning). After a reboot trim is enabled. You should do this right after you have installed OSX and before you start installing software. If something goes wrong you do not loose much data. But if the SSD is a new model you wont have any problems. You can enable trim later. But remember that backup. Just in case.

If you have an Apple time capsule and you want to delete the backup from an old computer then it takes ages. You need to Google for the right geek commands and then it takes 10 hours to delete a 1.5 TB backup. Insane! There is a better way. If your time capsule is only backing up one computer and you do not need the old backup, then use the Airport utility to erase the entire disk and let is start from scratch. That is 100 times faster!

I hope this all helps if someone wants to spend the holidays refreshing their Mac and give it a few extra years of life.

Happy new year





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happy new jear smiley
Artist Page Send Message December 26, 2015 | 1:43 pm

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happy new jear smiley
Artist Page Send Message December 26, 2015 | 1:43 pm

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happy new jear smiley
Artist Page Send Message December 26, 2015 | 1:43 pm

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? ; me post appears 3 times... how could that happen. gues i clicked on the button sevral times to fast. sory about that.enyoy jour new system .
Last edited 1 year ago.
Artist Page Send Message December 26, 2015 | 1:44 pm

KennethLavrsen's artist icon
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The server is a bit slow, I have also clicked several times on things. But there is no harm done in wishing a happy new year a few extra times. And I wish you a happy new year, too. Thanks for all the nice comments you have give so many here on iCompositions. It warms
Last edited 1 year ago.
Artist Page Send Message December 26, 2015 | 2:08 pm

KCsGROOVE's artist icon
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I'm not on a mac but recently I got a new pc for my audio and I have an SSD drive too. It works great , is much faster and really steady.
Best wishes for 2016, Ken!
Latest Song: BACK TO NATURE (#2) Collab
Artist Page Send Message December 27, 2015 | 5:39 am

zincshed's artist icon
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I had every intention of getting a new MacMini but as you mentioned, the hard drive and memory can not be upgraded.

I built a PC instead and put a 250 Gb SSD in it as it was all I could afford. The space is not too critical as I store most files on a second drive which is a 1Tb Hard Drive. The SSD is really fast and it is silent so the only noise from the computer is the hard drive but that only spins when it is accessing a file. Good luck with your setup for 2016.
Latest Song: Stagger Lee
Artist Page Send Message December 27, 2015 | 9:28 am

MikeHuntingford's artist icon
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I've been recording to an SSD for about two years now and that drive has been excellent. I record up to 8 tracks at one time with no hickups at all.

Latest Song: Groove Slayer
Artist Page Send Message December 27, 2015 | 8:45 pm

OMNICELL's artist icon
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Cool; I agree; However, In my macbook pro, I had a 128G; to small! Omnisphere up buying an external 250G! works great; Loaded Omnisphere; everything is fine! I used it on the Mac as main synth for Notion notation program!

Its interesting how fast programs can fill up space!

Im still waiting on an internal replacement for 2014 MacBook Pro! nothing out yet! We will see!

Happy New Year!
Latest Song: Evolving classical #1
Artist Page Send Message December 30, 2015 | 7:04 pm

ihussain's artist icon
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Hey Kenneth - happy new year!

I'm glad it all worked out. I'm exhausted just reading about it!

One question i keep meaning to ask - i have an external hard drive that i have very little on. Is it possible to save sound files on this? Will it still work with Garageband or Logic if those programs are still on the main computer?
Latest Song: The Morning After
Artist Page Send Message January 1, 2016 | 4:53 pm

KennethLavrsen's artist icon
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@ihussain you can move the sample libraries to a different disk than the system disk. Each software has their own way but there are plenty of descriptions on the net that are easy to find on Google. The most obvious are Kontakt and Omnisphere for those that have these products. Both have huge sample libraries. You do not move the software. Only the sample libraries (STEAM folder for Omnisphere). You have to tell the software afterwards where they were moved to. Make sure to Google for a detailed description.
Pure synth software that generate all sounds by modelling are very small in size on the disk and not worth moving.
Make sure to use a fast external disk with a fast interface. In the Mac world this means USB3 or Thunderbolt. In the PC world eSATA or USB3. A USB2 disk will feel very slow. Older computers only have USB2. An SSD disk on USB2 will be slowed down by the old USB2 interface so you cannot feel the advantage of the SSD speed. Thunderbolt disks are a bit expensive but almost as fast as an internal harddrive. You can get Thunderbolt interfaces to which you can connect a normal SATA interfaced SSD. I have one of those and it is very fast.
Artist Page Send Message January 4, 2016 | 3:51 am

Aamp's artist icon
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Happy New Year!! I always thought the Terminal asks you for your banking information smiley. I've been considering taking the time to do this with a fresh install of ElCaptain or even go back to Snow Leopard with a SSD but my Mac mini is so old now, it's one with a white top, I'm so far behind the times, like I didn't even know there is an Omni. 2, that I think spending anything on it would not be as worth while so I'll use it with crippled Yosemite or maybe even try the upgrade until the HD explodes. I think it has 200 gb or something total, Idk. All the best with your fresh new setup!
Latest Song: Spectre
Artist Page Send Message January 4, 2016 | 11:07 am

ihussain's artist icon
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thanks Kenneth - that all is extremely useful information. You are a star for putting this out here.
Latest Song: The Morning After
Artist Page Send Message January 8, 2016 | 5:50 am

JeffMcCaskill's artist icon
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Terrific posting, Kenneth!

I've thought long and hard about installing an SSD in my beloved 2008 MacBook Pro, but put it off while observing SSD prices plummet. I think your experience has bolstered my confidence to proceed ahead. If I do, I'll be sure to repost how things go here. Thanks so much for all the great information! Peace!

Last edited 1 year ago.
Latest Song: Love Lies Waiting
Artist Page Send Message January 9, 2016 | 2:43 pm

JonCSebastian's artist icon
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i have been on total ssd for 3 years and a mac mini,,, Next time just clone the ssd from your original drive and install in place of it,, The mac mini knows how to handle that and it will start right up without any reinstallations!!!
Latest Song: Take Faith
Artist Page Send Message January 11, 2016 | 6:31 am

carlajpatterson's artist icon
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lol I am loving this Kenneth - and it's so great to see some of my favorite gear heads here making comments. smiley

I put an SSD drive into my ancient Mac laptop and it gave the thing a new life. I'm currently building my dream music and art studio and am trying to face the price of having at least a 1T SSD drive - it's so expensive, it makes me cringe! But, OTOH, it's SO bloody FAST and responsive.
Latest Song: I Am Here
Artist Page Send Message January 11, 2016 | 6:30 pm

thsantac's artist icon
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I did that 2 years ago in my 2009 MacBook Pro (Core 2 Duo) and I was amazed by the new speed. Before it took almost 3 minutes to boot, now the process is done in 30 seconds smiley I have kept my old drive and put a 250 Gb SSD in place of the optical drive that I never used anyway. 500 GB SSD have become cheaper nowadays so I bought one to replace the old classic 500 GB HD.
Latest Song: The Rest of a Warrior
Artist Page Send Message January 20, 2016 | 1:11 am

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