Noilly Prattle: Rebuilding my mid-2009 MacBook Pro

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rebuilding my mid-2009 MacBook Pro

     I retired my old mid-2009 MacBook Pro notebook computer after a re-install of OS X Leopard from the DVD that came with the computer left it pretty much out of date on the Internet and useless. Another reason I put it away is that the keyboard was malfunctioning and I decided to buy a new notebook computer. I did not throw it out, however. 

Core Telephony Trace File Error
        I bought a 2015 Mac Air with OS X Yosemite installed and upgraded it to OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 and that worked fine until recently when Apple came out with a new upgrade to OS Sierra. To make a long story short, I ran into a problem with the Air when I did something wrong with a 500 GB external hard disc that was formatted for Microsoft Windows 8 as a storage device. After trying to format it for the Mac the disc got corrupted and wouldn't load in either computer, the PC or the Air. And I got a dreaded error message on the Air about a “Core Telephony Trace File Error”. After a panic call to Apple Support I re-installed OS X El Capitan and that got rid of the error message.

MacBook Pro (before)
        The experience made me realize how vulnerable a computer can be and thought it would be sensible to have backup machines. I started doing some research on the Internet and found a lot of advice about rebuilding an older Apple computer. Since my old MacBook Pro was just gathering dust I had nothing to lose by experimenting with it and decided to give it a shot.

USB keyboard and mouse (Logicool)
        I read that nothing could be done to upgrade my OS X Leopard but that it was possible to buy a DVD for OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.3 from Apple for around $20 to upgrade from Leopard. I bought a DVD and installed it and then upgraded it to Snow Leopard 10.6.8, from which you can upgrade to later versions the Mac OS X series right up to El Capitan. I had forgotten about the keyboard problem and found that upgrading to Snow Leopard hadn't fixed the problem. I found that my Windows 8 USB keyboard bypassed the Mac 's onboard keyboard and worked fine, so I bought a Logicool USB one for around $20 (including a mouse) from a local shop.

RAM Memory (green cards)
RAM Memory cavity (clips on sides)
        With the USB keyboard and mouse the MacBook Pro worked fine with Snow Leopard since it had only 2 GB of RAM Memory. However, to upgrade to El Capitan 4 GB of RAM Memory are recommended to avoid sluggish performance. Before attempting the El Capitan 10.11.6 upgrade I bought 4 GB of Ram Memory (generic no brand for $34) from another local shop. You can unscrew the back of the Mac and remove the old memory cards and install the new ones. The are easy to remove and install by releasing the clips on each side. They almost pop out. Remove the old ones and pop in the new ones until you hear a click sound indicating that they are properly seated. Screw the cover back on, boot up the computer and check that the cards are properly installed (click Apple logo, open About this Mac and check that Memory is correct).

from 2GB to 4 GB Ram Memory
4 GB RAM memory (2 x 2 GB)

El Capitan [bottom] on Apple Store (Purchases)
      Getting El Capitan from the Apple store can be tricky. I had previously downloaded El Capitan for my Mac Air so Apple still had a record of it. You go to Apple store and click on Purchases. If you have downloaded it before with a valid Apple user account El Capitan will still be there. If it's there just click on it and the download and upgrade will begin automatically.

       So far so good, but I ran into a problem with my Wi-Fi network. Nothing I tried would make the Wi-Fi work with El Capitan. Fortunately, the old MacBook Pro still has a connector for Internet cable and the house is wired for it from before Wi-Fi days when all we had was cable. So, I simply plugged the Pro onto the Internet with a cable, and, voila, I now a have functioning back up computer at relatively little cost.

MacBook Pro (after) 4 GB RAM, OS X El Capitan 10.11.6
USB Logicool keyboard and mouse, Internet cable (red on left)


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