Adding a Silicon Power 512GB SSD to my Mac Pro 2008

TLDR; here’s the main points:

  • Restore a Time Machine backup using Recovery, not from Disk Utils from the MacOS installer
  • If an uninitialized SSD is not visible to Disk Utils, it may show up under ‘diskutils list’
  • If still not visible, put it in a USB drive enclosure where it should get detected, then initialize it

I picked up a cheap $50 512GB SSD to add to my Mac Pro 2008. I already have Windows 10 on one SSD, but decided it was time to replace the WD Blue 5000rpm drive also with an SSD. Backed up El Capitan to Time Machine, and now ready to add the new drive.

I mounted it in a Sabrent 2.5 to 3.5 caddy, and then attached to one of my drive sleds.

I’ve had good luck with new and even refurb drives over the past couple of years, this Silicon Power SSD is the first drive that’s given me issues, as it’s not visible in Disk Utils or even to ‘diskutils list’ which normally detects and lists an installed drive even though it’s not usable. Not knowing if it was the SATA connectors, I removed all my other disks, and moved it between each of the 4 slots, and no go, it was still not detected in MacOS Recovery Disk Utils, either when booted into El Cap, or in Windows 10.

First attempt to see what was going on, I tried downloading Silicon Power’s SP Toolbox software, and Windows Defender says it has a trojan:

Ok, well that’s not good. Uninstalled.

To double check that the drive could be detected on other machines I uninstalled it and moved it to a USB3 external drive enclosure. Windows 10 Disk Management now sees the disk as uninitialized, and pops up a dialog to initialize it as either MBR or GPT. Ok, picked GPT but haven’t formatted it yet. Going to now book back into MacOS Recovery to see if I can format it, and restore my TimeMachine backup. Back in a few mins.

Ok. So I have a Recovery partition that for some reason does not boot. The other option is to boot from an MacOS El Cap bootable USB flash drive and restore from Disk Utils there. I tried this and when I selected the ‘Restore…’ menu option, selected the Time Machine USB drive and the SSD as the target, I ended up restoring a copy of the content of the Time Machine backup onto the SSD, but it’s not bootable. First clue that this happened should have been from the boot menu screen when I had 2 identical orange Time Machine drive icons, and not a new silver bootable disk.

Since I don’t have a working Recovery partition to boot from where the ‘Restore from Time Machine’ option is, I went the long way round and installed El Cap from USB to the new SSD which got it bootable and with a new Recovery partition, then booted to this Recovery partition, selected the ‘Restore from Time Machine’ option, left it restoring over night, and now I have I my previously El Cap install completely transferred to the new SSD, successfully bootable and all. That took way longer than I expected, but now successfully up and running!

El Cap boot time from SSD on this 2008 Mac Pro is about 4 seconds, whereas before from a 5000rpm WD Blue it was at least a minute to get to the desktop… a HUGE improvement!

Will the upcoming ‘modular’ Mac Pro be easily expandable?

It’s been rumored for a while now that a new upcoming Mac Pro, likely to be announced at WWDC 2019, will be ‘modular’. The last generation Mac Pro, usually referred to as the ‘trashcan’ because it looks just like a trash can, is anything but modular compared to previous generations.

This is what my 2008 Mac Pro looks like in the inside:

I have a mix of SSDs and HDDs in there, and I boot MacOS, Windows 10, Linux and run Proxmox to virtualize the hardware. I have 2 GPUs, one Mac native AMD and one generic nvidia .

I don’t think ‘modular’ means the same as expandable. My 2008 Mac Pro does everything I need as a daily driver desktop, and if I need it to do something different I can easily pull parts out and put new parts in.

I want the new Mac Pro to be as expandable as this, but I think ‘modular’ more likely refers to an ability to link multiple units together to add capacity and features, but that sounds like an expensive approach, and nowhere near as flexible as the expandability of prior generation Mac Pros. Fingers crossed, I’m looking forward to see what will be announced, but I don’t think the new Mac Pro will be as expandable as the previous generations.

Adding a 2.5″ drive to a Mac Pro 2008

I have a couple of spare 500GB 2.5″ drives that were going to go into my HP DL380 rack server, but for the reasons described here, I ended up replacing with some WD drives instead. So I wanted to install these in my Mac Pro instead to at least get some use from them.

The pre ‘trash can’ Mac Pro towers have 4 slide out drive trays (see here across the center of the case) that allow you to easily install or remove 3.5″ drives without messing with any cables. Attach a drive into a drive sled, screw in the 4 screws on the sled and then push it in.

For 2.5″ drives however, they obviously won’t fit into the drive sled. There’s a number of adapter options if you just Google for “mac pro 2.5 drive adapter” or similar, and the prices are all over from $5 to $30 or more.

I went for a cheaper $5 option on Amazon. When the adapter arrived, what’s interesting is it looks like the adapter was 3D printed:

The kit came with easy to follow instructions and needed screws.



Following the instructions and attaching the drive, here’s what it looks like with the adapter fitted into one of the drive sleds:




On booting up, the top drive is the original disk that came in this used Mac Pro, it has an HFS+ partition installed with El Cap, and a partition installed with  Windows 10. The 2nd is the newly added 2.5″ 500GB disk. Great!


Proxmox installation on a 2008 Mac Pro

Following on from my earlier article, I read some more about Proxmox running on a Mac Pro so decided to give it a go.

I added an empty drive into one of the spare bays, and then booted from the Proxmox installer.













After first boot and logon with the default root user to the web interface:

The first VM I want to create is for CentOS, and I have the iso ready to go on an attached usb drive, which I copied to the isos dir on Proxmox (/var/lib/vz/template/iso – defined storage locations for images are covered in answers to this post). The image now shows up on the local storage:

Creating a new VM based on this image:

Starting up the image and starting the CentOS install using the web-based vnc access:

… after completing the install, success!