Recently my MacBook Air began to have strange issues. I frequently got the “spinning beach ball of death” as my machine took sometimes two minutes or more for simple tasks like switching from one open program to another. I asked the Internet what was going on, and the consensus was that the hard drive was dying. That’s not good. Thankfully, I found a way to fix it better than when it was new for a fraction of the cost of replacing it.
Time to replace?
Apple has a strong reputation for quality engineering and superior hardware. Whether you prefer Windows or Apple’s Mac OS X, the MacBook Air in an exceptional laptop from a hardware perspective. But, even superior hardware has a life expectancy, and eventually components start to fail.
I started to shop for replacement laptops. I considered buying a newer MacBook Air—the latest models have vastly superior processors and battery life. I’d want the larger SSD storage this time, though, so a new 11-inch MacBook Air would set me back $1200 or more (I’d probably opt for the better processor and more RAM as well).
I also looked into alternative machines like the Dell XPS 12 hybrid ultrabook. Even with the Dell it would cost $1350 for the model with 256GB SSD. So much for that “Apple tax” everyone is always talking about.
Rebuild it better, stronger, faster
I bought this MacBook Air at the end of 2011, so it was just over two years old when it started having issues. Given the amount of use it had, and the fact that I made my living typing on it, it more than paid for itself. However, a laptop should probably have a shelf-life longer than two years.
As much as I’d like to have one of the newer Intel processors, this MacBook Air is fine aside from the hard drive issue (and dwindling battery endurance, but that’s another article). So, I moved my research from new laptops to replacing the failing SSD, and I found Other World Computing (OWC).
OWC offers replacement / upgrade SSDs for the various MacBook Air models. I opted for the 240GB Aura Pro, with the Envoy Storage Solution option for $260. The Envoy add-on is an external enclosure you can use for the original SSD, so in the end I have the 240GB SSD internally, and the 128GB SSD in a sleek, brushed metal enclosure that looks like it belongs with the MacBook Air.
The OWC SSD is also superior to the original. The OWC SSD offers 6G speed with data transfer rates three times faster than the SSD that came installed in the MacBook Air. In addition, the OWC drives utilize various technologies to extend the endurance of the drive and protect the data.
OWC shipped me the replacement SSD and the Envoy external enclosure, along with the pentalobe and torx screwdrivers necessary to dismantle the MacBook Air, and easy, step-by-step instructions with a video tutorial. I managed to remove the old SSD, install the new SSD, and have the MacBook Air reassembled—including installing the old SSD into the Envoy enclosure—in under 10 minutes. Because the old SSD still has my data on it, I connected it up and transferred everything to the new SSD, and voila!
Now I have a “new” MacBook Air along with an extra 128GB external drive for $260. OWC also provides a three-year warranty on the drive, so I’m covered for the foreseeable future. All in all, it was a simple, painless process, and well worth the much smaller investment to fix the MacBook Air I have rather than spending the money for a new laptop.