Adding a Rocket to a Dinosaur: The Mac Pro Solid State Drive Rebuild

Two weeks ago, shortly after I wrote my blog post entitled “Mac Spring Cleaning: Rethinking How I Organize My Data”, I ordered myself a shiny new 120GB Other World Computing Mercury Electra 6G solid state drive for my Mac Pro.


I’m no stranger to solid state drives; I’ve been using them with both my Macs for almost two years now. SSDs have given a new lease on life for both my machines, which are over 4 years old (ancient by computing standards).

Three factors influenced my latest SSD purchase.

  • My 40GB OWC SSD was no longer cutting it for all my apps / OS.
  • The prices on larger SSDs have come down within the past 3 months. (I paid $150 for my 120GB OWC Mercury Electra 6G.)
  • I wanted to perform a complete rebuild of my Mac Pro as a performance tune-up.

Rebuilding an OS and apps is like moving into a new house: it takes time to move your stuff (installing apps) and it takes a little longer to settle in (adjusting all your apps settings the way you like). It’s tedious, but in the end, you have a clean, organized place you really like coming home to.

Carrying the moving analogy, not everything made it into the new “house”. First and foremost, Corel Painter X didn’t make the cut. While Painter is a good program for what it does, I can do everything I need to do illustration-wise with Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop.

Setting up most of my apps was pretty easy. Ironically, the apps that weren’t as easy to reconfigure were iTunes and iPhoto. I manage all of my media and photo data on a separate internal drive; it took some Googling on my part to properly configure both apps to find their content.

Side note: iTunes is in desperate need of a make-over. My suggestion would be for Apple to split up iTunes into separate apps to manage music, movies, etc.

With the new 120GB drive, performance screams. Part of it is because of the extra head-room on the SSD. Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop, etc. all make use of the extra fast scratch disk space on the drive.

Furthermore, reinstalling Photoshop cleared up some wonky behavior (such as the delay encountered when typing text using the Text tool) and allowed me to modify, remove and optimize a few of my workflow actions / scripts. Sketchbook Pro runs like butter now: super fast with no lagging whatsoever.

In the end, while rebuilding the OS and apps was a bit tedious, the expended effort was totally worth it.


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