How can I restore OS X without an external hard drive?

Rimanere April 11, 2011

I am replacing my old 250 GB hard drive from my MacBook Pro with a new 500 GB drive. How can I restore my system if I don’t have a spare external hard drive? I only have a USB docking station. I don’t really want to reinstall all the programs and applications that are in my Mac now.

  1. Tina
    April 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm


    were you able to back up your operating system and exchange the hard drive with the advice above? Please let us know in case you need more help. Thank you!

    • Rimanere1
      May 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm

       Thank you so much for your help Mike & TIna. I am enjoying a roomy 500Gb on my McBook Pro.

      • Tina
        May 16, 2011 at 8:32 pm

        Glad it worked, Rimanere!

  2. Mike
    April 12, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Depends on what you mean with USB Docking station.

    In general the easiest method is to connect the new Hard Drive to your MBP using an external case lika Tina suggest or some sort of Hard Drive dock.

    format the new Hardware using Disk Utility:
    1. open Disk Utility and select the new Hard Drive (labeled "500,00 GB ...")
    2. click on the Partition tab
    3. select the Volume Scheme (in general 1 Partition)
    4. name the Partition (doesn't really matter, "Macintosh HD" or so)
    4. click on Options... and select GUID Partition Table
    5. click Apply

    clone your existing Mac OS X using Carbon Copy Cloner (
    1. open Carbon Copy Cloner
    2. select your current 250GB HDD as source
    3. select the new and partitioned 500GB HDD as target
    4. click Clone and wait

    After cloning is done you can shutdown your Mac Book Pro, change the Hard Drive and (hopefully) boot up like nothing happened ~ except the additional Hard Drive space available now.

  3. Tina
    April 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm


    I don't have a Mac, but I can offer a hardware suggestion.

    Get an external 2.5" SATA or IDE to USB 2.0 hard drive enclosure for your new MacBook hard drive. Put the new hard drive in the enclosure and connect it to your MacBook via USB. Use Time Machine to make a backup to your new hard drive. Then exchange the hard drives as planned and use Time Machine to restore the backup from the now local drive.

    The advantage is that you now have an external 250 GB hard drive. The external case costs around $10-20. On there are sets for $6. Be sure to get an enclosure for the right connection type, i.e. SATA or IDE.

    What you have to find out first is whether Time Machine will be able to restore the backup from the local drive! Otherwise, you might have to copy the backup to your old drive and then restore.

    Hope a Mac person will respond and clarify whether this procedure is possible.