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[MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 19, 2017 12:01PM
[MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air

Hi everyone,

As a favor, I did a drive clone and swap for someone who needed more onboard storage for his 2012 Macbook Air. The drive of choice was a 1TB OWC Aura 6G SSD. He chose the full upgrade kit which included a Envoy Pro enclosure for the Apple drive and screwdrivers for removal/installation.

Usually, when replacing the internal drive of a machine, I install the new drive into an external enclosure, clone the original drive to it with Carbon Copy Cloner, and then swap the drives. This plan was kaiboshed by the design of the Envoy Pro. Since I’d never looked at the Envoy Pro page on OWC’s web site - just the Aura full kit upgrade page - I was unaware the only drives compatible with it are the stock SSDs from Apple. Meaning, I couldn’t install the Aura into it and clone the original drive as planned. This is a serious issue since it makes it more difficult to back up the original drive prior to removing it from the computer.

Fortunately, I had a drive dock and a spare platter drive on hand. I cloned the original drive of the Macbook Air to the platter drive. the original SSD was 128GB, with just under 99 gigs of data on it. The backup took about 35 or so minutes. Once that was complete, I swapped the drives.

Easy as pie! In this case, Apple made opening the case of the Macbook Air similar to cracking the case of an ‘09 Macbook Pro 13” non-retina. It’s actually a touch easier since just one screw holds the stock SSD in place. Here’s the proceess:

Remove screws. Pop off back. Disconnect battery. Remove screw holding the SSD in place. Pull SSD from connector.

I immediately installed the stock SSD into the Envoy Pro enclosure. Two screws. Two minutes. No muss, no fuss.

Installing the Aura was just as easy. Slip Aura into place. screw down. Pop back of case onto laptop. Screw it in place. Boot off external drive, clone to Aura. Clone took about 15/20 minutes. Done.

Sometimes I hold off on actually installing the screws for the case itself, on the off-chance an issue crops up. Once I saw how easy it was to swap the drives, I did the full installation and called it done.

Some thoughts:

OWC should mention on the site for the Aura 6G upgrade kit that the Envoy Pro is _only_ compatible with the internal SSD of the Macbook Air. Definitely wasn’t to pleased to find this out after the fact.

On a positive note, the Aura 6G seemed to offer a boost in performance over the original SSD. I don’t know what kind of speeds the stock drive offer but I definitely noticed a difference. Not tremendous, mind you, but noticeable. I consider this a bonus.

I realize dropping an Aura 6G 1TB ssd into a 2012 Macbook Air seems like an extravagance but knowing how the individual uses his machine, it was definitely the right choice for him. A replacement machine with ample storage was going to easily cost over a grand. No doubt of that. He also didn’t want to have to carry extra drives with him. He wanted to be able to open the Macbook Air and use it. Not open Macbook, connect external, use it, disconnect external, close it and put both away.

I returned the MAcbook Air to him on Wednesday and he’s 100% thrilled!

Robert
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Acer
Date: May 19, 2017 12:58PM
I recently upgraded a late-2013 macbook pro's SSD. Like your client, $1500 for a new machine for the Mrs. when all she needed was more storage was maximum overkill. And managing external drives is also a nonstarter for my non-techie mate.

In my case, I picked up a used 512MB OEM SSD off ebay. (They are appearing with regularity now.) I figure I can recoup almost half of the cost by reselling the 256MB original.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2017 01:00PM by Acer.
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: May 19, 2017 01:03PM
Thanks for the review Robert! The info you said is lacking is actually on the specs page... you must have missed it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The OWC Envoy enclosure has been specifically designed for use ONLY with the factory SSD found installed in Apple MacBook Air 2012 model. Do NOT attempt to install or use the OWC Aura SSD in the Envoy as you can damage the Aura drive, the Envoy enclosure or both and such damage is not covered under warranty. To transfer data from the Apple SSD in the Envoy to the Aura SSD in the computer, please visit this link (http://eshop.macsales.com/tech_center/format2011/)



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 19, 2017 01:05PM
Acer,

He's going to keep the original SSD and use it as an emergency boot drive for the MBA and the 15" MBP Retina, which serves as his "desktop" machine.

At some point, I'm going to perform a similar swap for my early '13 MBPr 15". I've held off for now since it has a 750GB drive and I've still got a couple of hundred gigs to spare in it. I used a flush microSD adapter and 128GB microSD chip to supplement the internal storage. I'd definitely replace the internal SSD if I didn't have that extra 128 gigs.

He used a similar adapter and microSD chip for the MBA but it just wan't remotely close enough to keep him from having to replace the internal drive. Even a 512gb SSd wouldn't have cut it, which is why he went for the 1TB model.

Robert
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 19, 2017 01:12PM
OWC Jamie,

I didn't miss it. I just didn't click on the learn more button to visit the next page. The info needs to be on this page:

[eshop.macsales.com]

My friend just hit the "Buy Now" button since he knew he needed the 1TB model and enclosure. So, he never saw the specs page you're referencing. Anyone who hits the "Buy Now" button on that page is going to miss it, too.

FWIW, nobody should swap the primary drive of their Macbook Air (or any machine for that matter) without first backing up the original drive. That's not feasible using just the Aura 6G and the Envoy Pro enclosure.

I was able to perform the backup since I had a spare drive and dock handy. Other people may not have the appropriate hardware on hand.

Robert
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: jdc
Date: May 19, 2017 01:31PM
I think its self evident that the case is for moving the old drive to the new case.

FWIW, nobody should not have a backup already in place.

And on the first page:
Reuse the Existing Factory SSD Flash Drive with Envoy

Install the factory SSD in Envoy, easily transfer data to your new SSD, then reuse the original drive as a sleek, high-speed external drive.



----


[www.fakesteve.net]
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 19, 2017 01:55PM
jdc,

That's not the point. Many people put the replacement drive into the case, clone the original to the replacement, then swap the drives. Standard procedure. That isn't feasible here. And, while everybody ought to have a backup, in the real world that's not the case. Some do, some don't. The information should be on the main page.

Robert
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: jdc
Date: May 19, 2017 03:09PM
Then we will have to just disagree.

Just hitting the "buy now" button on a $500 purchase seems like just hitting the "send money now" button on a Nigerian Princes web site.

And on the main page:




----


[www.fakesteve.net]
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: space-time
Date: May 19, 2017 04:34PM
so why the new drive (Aura) does not fit in that enclosure? They both fit inside MBA, they must have the same connector (SATA?) and they must have the same number of mounting holes.

is the Aura thicker than the stock drive? Then Jony Ive left some empty space inside MBA, he could have made it thinner. Slacker...
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Acer
Date: May 19, 2017 05:56PM
The physical size and physical connectors are not the problem. The drive fits. It's something else.
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Onamuji
Date: May 19, 2017 05:58PM
I may be in the minority, but I haven't had great experiences with OWC flash drive upgrades.

(PM me if you'd like details.)

Like the idea of them, tho. Maybe the next-gen will iron out some of the bumps.



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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: OWC Larry
Date: May 19, 2017 06:20PM
The Aura will fit - and there are multiple good reasons why we do not support the Aura in these enclosures. One of the main reasons has to do with the configuration of the enclosures with upgrade kits is optimized to cool/interface with the Apple factory SSD blades vs. our blades where are supposed to be going inside the Mac.

Of other consideration is that it is less favorable today, with recent Mac OS versions, to clone a boot volume vs. do a clean install and migration. There is a lot of baggage that can come with a clone and SSDs add other things to the equation when it come to a boot volume clone. We highly recommend doing a clean install of the OS on to the new SSD and then using data migration for the files and apps. We can't stop you from cloning as can all the same clone from the USB Envoy with Apple SSD to the new drive inside... but this is still better as the drive that is to now be boot is on the direct internal interface it's going to be booted from.

Without going into details - while certain issues with different aspects might be rarely experienced - at the volumes we ship, we don't want any problems we know we can avoid and thus support uses and recommend things where the possibility of certain problems which we can replicate with volume testing, etc- are simply avoided.

Thanks!



OWC Larry
Other World Computing
[www.macsales.com]
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: OWC Larry
Date: May 19, 2017 06:22PM
And yes - the AURA Sata SSD blades are a huge boost for 2010 to 2011 MacBook Airs and a substantial / noticeable boost for 2012 MacBook Air and 2012 to Early 2013 MacBook Pro Retina models as well. smiling smiley



OWC Larry
Other World Computing
[www.macsales.com]
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Buck
Date: May 19, 2017 07:47PM
I put a 1TB Aura in my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina. I needed the space, but I can't remember a speed boost. If I need to send in my MacBook for "service battery" reasons, I'll swap the SSDs again.
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 19, 2017 08:09PM
Larry,

Thank you for the clarifications. My issue isn't the process of moving the data from the stock internal drive to the Aura 6G SSD. Clone vs Reinstall the Os and migration assistant. That doesn't matter. People can do what works best for their workflow. My issue is that the main page in the link I posted doesn't include the warning that is on the other pages. It should be in both locations.

That you can't put the Aura 6G into the Envoy Pro enclosure isn't an issue to me. The box is designed that way, so I'm cool with it. This isn't the first time I've come across a situation like this. Unfortunately, this creates a complication when it comes to replacing the internal drive of the machine.

The data should be migrated to the new drive prior the swap. If not, it needs to be backed up prior to the swap. If someone has a spare drive like I had on hand, no problem. They can perform the backup. Otherwise, they have to perform the swap without a backup which can be risky in the event of an issue.

Robert
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: August West
Date: May 19, 2017 08:23PM
Caveat emptor. There is plenty of indication of the capabilities of envoy.



Picasso in his studio after the liberation of Paris, taken by my friend and mentor.

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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 19, 2017 08:39PM
August,

Not on the page in my link. On other pages, yes, but not on the main page of the SSDs for the 2012 Macbook Air.

Robert
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: sekker
Date: May 19, 2017 08:51PM
I have to admit that putting the new SSD into the sled, cloning it, then swapping back seems like a logical workflow to me.

Larry - I don't see a lot of hardware differences between the Apple and OWC SSDs for my older 2012 MBPR.

Glad you posted this warning here!
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: May 20, 2017 10:19AM
The fact that this is even being discussed means OWC needs to make it totally clear on link Robert used. No excuse. I need bigger ssd for my '14 MacBook Pro retina. Hard and expensive to upgrade though. banghead smiley



That old man - he don't think like no old man...
Now I wouldn't want to be within 400 - 500 yards of one of them nuclear bombs when it goes off! WW1 Vet Old Man
"He's pinned under an outcropping of rock. Lucky for him, the rock kept the dirt from burying him alive."
If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport. And I'd be a TSA agent.
A bonified member of The Mystic Knights of The Sea, George P. Stevens, President. Andy Brown, Treasurer, Algonquin J. Calhoun, Legal Consultant.
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OWC Larry . . .
Posted by: WHiiP
Date: May 20, 2017 10:34AM
Quote
OWC Larry

Without going into details - while certain issues with different aspects might be rarely experienced - at the volumes we ship, we don't want any problems we know we can avoid and thus support uses and recommend things where the possibility of certain problems which we can replicate with volume testing, etc- are simply avoided.

Thanks!

This is all the more reason that it should be emphasized largely on EVERY page.

I actually agree with Robert on this one. smiley-shocked003



Bill
Flagler Beach, FL 32136

Carpe Vino!

Fermentation may have been a greater discovery than fire.
— David Rains Wallace



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2017 10:35AM by WHiiP.
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Re: OWC Larry . . .
Posted by: jdc
Date: May 20, 2017 10:43AM
Quote
WHiiP
Quote
OWC Larry
Without going into details - while certain issues with different aspects might be rarely experienced - at the volumes we ship, we don't want any problems we know we can avoid and thus support uses and recommend things where the possibility of certain problems which we can replicate with volume testing, etc- are simply avoided.Thanks!

This is all the more reason that it should be emphasized largely on EVERY page. I actually agree with Robert on this one. smiley-shocked003

I dont get it, this has nothing to do with the original issue. Not a game of telephone.

Quote
GuyGene
The fact that this is even being discussed means OWC needs to make it totally clear on link Robert used. No excuse.\

No, it doesnt.



----


[www.fakesteve.net]
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Acer
Date: May 20, 2017 03:27PM
Quote
GuyGene
I need bigger ssd for my '14 MacBook Pro retina. Hard and expensive to upgrade though. banghead smiley

Expensive, yes. Hard, no. You need pentalobe driver bits, but they can be had for a few bucks off Amazon. The actual install is just unscrewing the bottom panel and the SSD is right there. Takes minutes. In fact, it's a bit of a let down that it's so fast. Something that costs so much should be harder to install!
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Re: [MINI REVIEW] OWC Aura 1TB SSD for 2012 Macbook Air
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 21, 2017 10:38AM
Hi everyone,

I think there is some confusion about the concerns I discussed in my original post. There are two different concerns.

The first concern is about the page you'll jumping to the page about the Aura 6G for the 2012 Macbook Air. It doesn't list a very critical limitation of the Envoy enclosure included with the button. The enclosure is _only_ compatible with the stock drive and you only become aware of this if you follow one or more additional links. Meaning, you need to click the "Learn More" button or jump to the Envoy page that is specific to the model suited for the stock ssd of the mid-2012 Macbook Air.

People who are planning to buy the Aura 6G for the 2012 MBA aren't necessarily going to hit the "learn more" button or follow the link further down the page for the Envoy box. Meaning, upon jumping to the page in my link, buyers know it's the right SSD for their machine and the kit comes with a box for the original. If you're experienced with drive swaps and upgrades, then you don't need to delve further.

I did not expect the Envoy enclosure to be incompatible with the Aura 6G SSD that was going to replace the stock drive. If I'm swapping drives, I usually think the original and the replacement will work in the same enclosure. It's always been this way with other machines and drives, so I didn't think it would be different with the Macbook Air, Envoy enclosure and the Aura 6G.

This brings me to my second concern. I assumed I could drop the Aura 6G into the Envoy box, migrate the data from the original drive to the Aura 6G, boot off the external to make sure all is well and then swap the drives. How I migrate the data doesn't come into play. The fact that the Aura 6G isn't compatible with the Envoy throws a monkey wrench into that process.

The incompatibility between the Aura 6G creates an additional step, one I find critical, other people optional. It's the step of backing up the data to a different drive entirely prior to performing the swap. It's easy enough to swap the Aura 6G and original drives without doing this. I'm sure people have done it more times than I can say and successfully. For me, backing up up the data prior to the drive swap isn't an optional step. Due to the incompatibility, it means I needed to have an extra drive on hand for the backup.

Fortunately, now that I know, I can keep it in mind when performing drive upgrades for other Macbook Air models and will double-check when doing upgrades for Macbook Pro Retina models.

The third concern is the method used for migrating data. I didn't bring up this issue. OWC Larry brought it into play. I use the clone method because, for my purposes, it just works. However, the fresh install of the OS and Migration Assistant is a solid approach, too. I think it's also reasonable to say it is Apple's preferred method, too. That it doesn't always work well for me and isn't my preferred method of migrating data from an old drive to a replacement is a personal matter.

Three different concerns. Two mentioned by me. One brought into play by OWC Larry.

Robert
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