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OWC releases dual drive upgrade kit for 2011 Mac Mini

Apple's Mac Mini contains a bracket for adding additional drives, but does not provide connectors or a means for installing a drive with it.

In a recent update to its upgrade kit offerings, Mac-centric upgrade vendor Other World Computing has issued a drive installation kit for Apple's latest Mac Mini, which allows you to install a second hard drive in a system that shipped with only one.

The Mac Mini, being a cheap and low-power system, is fairly popular because of its low profile design that allows it to fit nicely in small areas such as bookshelves. It can serve not only as a desktop system, but also as a server, and even a media center. As a result of this, Apple offers a Server variant of its Mac Mini, which supports dual hard drives and comes with OS X Server installed.

In past versions of the system, the standard version of the Mini came with an optical drive, which it replaced with a hard drive in the server variant. This setup was convenient because those with the standard version who wanted more storage space could replace the optical drive with a bracket kit that would hold a smaller 2.5-inch hard disk. This setup was similar to one I outlined for MacBook Pro systems.

OWC installation kit
OWC's kit includes basic mounting and attachment hardware, along with tools to open the system. Other World Computing

In the latest Mac Mini models, Apple has done away with the internal optical drive, so the use of such brackets is no longer available; however, Apple has unified all of its models around the same design that offers space for both hard drives. Therefore, if needed, users can use this bracket and the available SATA connection to configure the system with dual hard drives. Apple uses this bracket to configure two drives for the Mac Mini Server, but the same bracket is available in all models, even if only one drive is used.

Unfortunately while Apple does include the bracket to mount the drive, it does not offer any connections to mount and attach the drive, or make it easy to access the bracket. In response to this, the folks at Other World Computing have released a $49 hard-drive installation kit of their own that tackles this problem and gives you all the tools needed to install a second hard drive in the Mac Mini.

Included in the kit is an SATA adapter cable and rubber mounting grommets for securing the hard drive to the internal bracket. The kit is simple enough in itself; however, Apple's Mac Mini is a very compact system and therefore getting to the drive bay is a bit of a daunting task, and requires you to fully disassemble the system. To aid in the process, OWC has a very detailed and clear video of the procedure for opening the system, removing the power supply and motherboard, and then reassembling it all after the drive has been installed.

Apple only offers 500GB or 750GB conventional drives or a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) as drive options, but as with many of Apple's CTO accessories, these upgrades are rather expensive (the 256GB SSD is a $600 option). By using OWC's kit you can install any third-party drive of your choosing to install additional storage, upgrade your current drive, or replace a faulty drive.

The only drawback to using OWC's kit is that servicing the Mac yourself may void your warranty if you damage your system in the process, so be sure you understand these risks before doing the procedure. If you decide to proceed and upgrade your system, then do be sure to thoroughly review OWC's how-to videos and also review other instructions such as those from iFixIt to understand exactly how the system is disassembled and reassembled before you start.

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