Upgrading my MacBook Air

I own an 11 inch 2011 MacBook Air. It’s my workhorse when I travel – you get substantial work done with an 11 inch Air in the cramp confines of a plane.

My MacBook Air originally had a 256 GB SSD for storage. Right up to March of 2013 this was sufficient- to house all my applications and development tools. As my interest in other areas grew, so did the apps and files (virtual boxes, code, documentation) increased. I was running out of storage space.

To resolve this I carry a USB disk, to contain all the other apps and files that I need. Accessing the files on the USB disk was a chore. Copying back and fort from the USB to the Air was painful, you have to be conscious, which copy was the most valid.

Note, accessing files from the USB directly was slow – it’s USB 2.0.

Also, attaching the USB Disk was a battery drain, the USB disk draws power from the Air.
The 5 hour battery capacity cuts down to around 3 hours of continuous use when the USB Disk is attached.

Another peeve of mine is the wire connecting the Air and the USB Disk, it is aesthetically annoying.
There also were cases, while I was working, the USB Disk rolls off the table and detaches from the Air – Yep, all work gone.

So, I made my a case of needing more Disk Space, 256 GB wasn’t cutting it. The Air was still a fine machine for what I do. Purchasing a newer model with a bigger drive was not a desirable alternative. So, I had to upgrade My Air with a larger SSD Drive.

There are 2 possible SSD replacement candidates:

  1. OWC (Other World Computing) Aura SSD)
  2. Transcend JetDrive 500
  3. The choice narrowed down to the Transcend JetDrive 500.primarily because Amazon resells this. Purchasing anything from Amazon is hassle free if the product turns out to be defective or I need to return it. I just send it back with minimum fuss.


Here’s the Transcend Jet Drive containing all the tools(screw drivers) you would need to do your upgrade. Note, the Instructions in the package are totally useless. So, it would be better for you to go to the Transcend website and watch the Installation video. Note, packaging was excellent so Applesque – Steve Jobs would be proud.


Prior to the upgrade I wanted to measure the performance of the Disks versus the old one it’s a way of making me feel better and justifying the cost of this investment.

You need to Download and Install on your Mac Blackmagic Disk Speed Test.

Using “Blackmagic Disk Speed Test” on the MacBook Air’s 2011 original SSD yielded the following results
IMG_0692 Write Speeds of 206.1 MB/s and Read Speeds of 238.5 MB/s. Note, that I am running the latest version of Yosemite. After taking note of these stats and doing a full time machine backup. I then started the upgrade process.

The Upgrade process is as follows:

  1. Mount the Transcend Jet Drive in the attached USB disk enclosure. IMG_0693
  2. Attach the Transcend Jet Drive and boot the MacBook Air and set it to recovery mode. Do a DiskCopy of the original SSD partition onto the USB mounted transcend drive. IMG_0695
  3. After the DiskCopy shutdown the MacBook Air.
  4. Remove the Transcend Jet Drive from the USB enclosure.
  5. Using the tools (screw drivers provided) open up the MacBook Air. Be careful, the screws are extremely small. They are so small that if they drop onto your carpet there is a chance you may never find them. If this happens you can order replacement screws from Amazon.
  6. Take out the original and substitute the Transcend drive.
  7. Close up the MacBook Air.
  8. You can repurpose the original SSD as a backup USB drive using the enclosure from Step 1.

The process was pretty straightforward.

Once the system booted from the new Transcend drive. I ran Disk Speed Test and got the following results
Read Speeds of 419.2 MB/s and write speeds of 452.3 MB/s double performance.

Am really pleased with this upgrade. I am currently consolidating all my files into the new SSD. In the past few days I have nothing but praise for this upgrade, the Air seems faster.
The joy of not having to bring an extra SSD is a worthwhile investment I’ll probably wait 2 more years before considering replacing my Air but for now life is grand -Transcend Rocks.


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