Adding a SATA II SSD to an old Macbook & Creating a Snow Leopard bootable USB drive

The hard-disk in my sisters Macbook laptop finally emitted it’s last death rattle and shuffled off to silicon heaven so I found myself needing to install Snow Leopard (it’s too old for Lion) on a new disk drive. This was complicated by two factors.

  1. The Macbook is old, it only has a SATA (not SATA II) disk controller.
  2. The DVD drive had also died a long time ago.

I had read that SATA II disks sometimes worked on SATA controllers, but also a number of reports that the Macbook didn’t recognise some SATA II disks. I took a risk and bought an OCZ Vertex 2 60GB SSD¬†from Amazon. So far the Macbook has recognised it. This was the easy bit.

Next I needed to install Snow Leopard. This was going to be harder (I thought) because the DVD drive in the machine was broken. I checked a bunch of tutorials on the Internet on how to create a Snow Leopard install USB drive but most assumed the USB drive would be created on Snow Leopard itself (I’m using Lion) and included a fairly large number of steps.

I gave up on these guides and decided to do it freestyle and it turned out to be incredibly simple. Here’s how in-case someone ever needs to do this in the future.

  1. First, I inserted my Snow Leopard DVD into my Mac and the USB drive into a USB port.
  2. Next I formatted the USB key as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) using Disk Utility ensuring it had a Master Boot Record.
  3. Finally I restored the Snow Leopard DVD to the USB key again using Disk Utility.

That was it. I tried it out on my sisters Macbook and it booted from it just fine and is now installing Snow Leopard on the OCZ SSD.

2 thoughts on “Adding a SATA II SSD to an old Macbook & Creating a Snow Leopard bootable USB drive

  1. Michal Zuber says:

    Mac has WiFi remote install (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.6/en/21219.html), I had to use it when I was reinstalling Lion on a MacBook Air. But you need another Mac. How does the SSD perform?

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