The best way to expand your Mac’s lifespan and obtain a significant speed boost is by replacing the hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD). You’ll notice the huge performance improvement right from the first time you boot up and immediately praise yourself for making this investment. However, you shouldn’t stop at installing a new SSD. There is one tiny command line you must type into Terminal to enable a feature meant to expand the lifespan of the newly installed drive; this feature is called TRIM.
TRIM can be considered a more efficient way of handling “garbage” and was introduced shortly after SSDs became available. The TRIM command allows the operating system to inform the SSD about regions where the data marked for deletion are stored, and after trimming the SSD won’t preserve the contents of the block when it writes new data to a page. Trim tells your solid state drive which pieces of data can be erased. No matter what name it goes by, Trim works with Active Garbage Collection to clean up and organize your solid state drive. As you use your drive, changing and deleting information, the SSD needs to make sure that invalid information is deleted from the drive and that there is.
Mac Specs By Capability Mac Storage Upgrade Compatibility Guide. Storage info — details on speed, dimensions, and hard drive and SSD interface specifics — for all G3 and later Macs are organized below by category. Some Macs have a hard drive or SSD that can be upgraded easily, others have storage that 'unofficially' can be upgraded with. For whatever reason, Apple hasn’t allowed you to enable TRIM (one of the best ways to maximize the life of your solid state drive) on third-part SSD drives. Now, you finally can, no third-party.
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What Is TRIM, and Why Do You Need It?
Writing to an SSD is totally different than writing to a traditional hard drive: the SSD first clears existing information from the flash memory cells and programs new data into them; hence, the writing process is often referred as program/erase cycles or P/E cycles. There is one thing to note, though, and that is that there are a limited number of P/E cycles an SSD can support. Writing to an SSD is like writing on a piece of paper with a pencil: if you erase the same space too many times, it can wear out. Manufacturers address this issue with so-called wear leveling, which prevents SSD memory cells (the pages) from wearing out.
SSDs contain memory cells organized into pages and blocks. What represents a challenge is that with an SSD you can write on a page any time, but you can erase only one block at a time. Each block contains a specified number of pages (from 32 to 256), which contain a specified amount of data (2 to 8KB). Unlike traditional hard drives, data on SSDs can’t be directly overwritten. When data changes, it must be written again. The same data (and metadata) ends up being written over and over again in our daily use of computers generating a phenomenon called write amplification, which uses up the limited P/E cycles.
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TRIM can be considered a more efficient way of handling “garbage” and was introduced shortly after SSDs became available. The TRIM command allows the operating system to inform the SSD about regions where the data marked for deletion are stored, and after trimming the SSD won’t preserve the contents of the block when it writes new data to a page. This enables less write amplification and, as it doesn’t use up the precious P/E cycles, the SSD’s lifespan will be much longer.
Back Up Your Mac Before Enabling the TRIM Command
You need to enable trimming manually when installing a third party SSD. All Macs shipped with an SSD have TRIM enabled, however, and yours can be checked by clicking on the Apple logo > About This Mac > System Report > SATA/SATA Express and look for “Trim Support”. Note that this won’t work on Retina MacBook Pro (late 2016) units.
If the answer here is “no” and you are running either macOS El Capitan 10.11.x or macOS Yosemite 10.10.4 or later versions, then TRIM can be enabled with one simple command in Terminal. Earlier versions of macOS don’t support this command, but there are third party apps, such as TRIM Enabler ($14.99), that can enable it.
Before you enable TRIM on the freshly installed SSD, we highly recommend doing a manual backup with Time Machine (or the backup service of your preference). Do not skip this step, because – despite supporting it – Apple doesn’t take any responsibility for data loss during the process. If anything goes wrong, the data will be lost and you won’t be able to recover it, so a backup can save the day.
But you don’t want to fill up your backup drive or the precious space on the SSD with all the junk files generated by apps as you use them: cookies, cache files, duplicates, erroneous downloads, iOS firmware downloads and much more should be wiped. For this reason, we strongly recommend performing a system cleanup using a Mac optimization app such as CleanMyMac, MacBooster or OnyX. After the cleaning process your Mac will be in its best shape for a backup and then to enable TRIM.
How to Enable TRIM on macOS in Five Easy Steps
To expand the lifespan of your SSD, follow the steps below:
- Launch Terminal.
- Type the command sudo trimforce enable, and press enter.
- Type the admin password, and press enter.
- Read the system notice, type “y”, and press enter.
- macOS will require your consent to reboot after finishing the process, so type “y” again, and press enter.
After finishing the process your Mac will reboot with TRIM enabled. Check again if TRIM support is now “OK” by clicking on the Apple logo > About this Mac > System Report > SATA/SATA Express, or by typing the following command in terminal:
system_profiler SPSerialATADataType grep ‘TRIM’.
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Ever since the release of OS X 10.6.8, Apple has been selectively enabling the TRIM command for SSDs in OS X. This support continues on in OS X Mavericks, but as many have noted, it only seems to work for Apple SSDs by default. We’ll show you how you can enable TRIM across the board.
What is TRIM?
The TRIM command is an important disk command for SSDs that keeps your flash memory appropriately cycled so that you can achieve faster read and write speeds, as well as a longer lifespan for your SSD. As such, TRIM support is not the trivial matter that some make it out to be (although certain manufacturers, such as Other World Computing, include firmware that eliminates the need for OS-level TRIM support).
How to Enable TRIM Via the OS X Terminal (Recommended)
In you have an SSD that supports TRIM, follow the below instructions to enable it in OS X Mavericks. Note: This involves the use of terminal commands, so proceed at your own risk.
First, enter the command found in this document in the Terminal app on your Mac (found in Applications/Utilities).
After entering this command, you’ll need to enter a second command:
sudo touch /System/Library/Extensions/
The above-linked document also contains some troubleshooting instructions, as well as details on how to disable TRIM support if necessary.
Using a Third Party Tool
If you don’t find success using the Terminal command to enable TRIM for your SSD, there are two third-party apps that can help you enable TRIM support. I recommend trying Chameleon SSD Optimizer first. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can try TRIM Enabler 3.0 or later for Mac. I don’t like to recommend third-party tools, as they often make system-level changes above and beyond those performed by the terminal command – and that may not be in your best interest long-term.
Verifying TRIM Support
To ensure that the command was successful, and that TRIM really is enabled on your SSD, click the Finder menu in the Menu bar, then navigate to About This Mac > More Info > System Report. Then, scroll to the SATA/SATA Express section, and select your SSD. You should see a section called TRIM
Note: In some cases, a restart may be required before TRIM shows as Enabled in the System Profiler. With Mavericks, not all SSDs will report TRIM support, but doing a benchmark both before and after the change should confirm that TRIM is functional.
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Added Bonus: Thunderbolt TRIM Support!
As an added bonus in OS X Mountain Lion or later, including OS X Mavericks (I have not tested this in previous versions of OS X), raid can now also be enabled for SSDs hooked to your Mac through a Thunderbolt PCIe controller, such as the excellent Magma ExpressBox 3T! For more info on these devices, check out our complete review roundup of Thunderbolt PCIe controllers – perfect for Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro!
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If you’re looking for an SSD to use in your Mac, I recommend checking out the OCZ Vector or the Sandisk Extreme. Also, make sure to check out the full range of affordable SSDs available on Amazon!
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For more helpful tips, check out our full collection of tutorials by visiting our How-To category!