Installation of a Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive in a Mac

This is a follow up to the previous post on this topic – this one contains more comprehensive instructions.

The first stage is to prepare the drive for use in the Mac. Due to the drive configuration and Western Digital’s lack of foresight/focus on Windows – this stage must be completed in a Windows PC.

You’ll need:

From the WD Black2 Box:
  • The USB -> SATA cable
  • The USB key (this has the software to ‘unlock’ the spinning partition of the dual drive
  • The drive itself
  • A windows PC/laptop which you can take the hard disk out of easily
  • Skill commensurate to the activities of removing and reinstalling hard disks
  • The ability to find your way around the terminal command line (linux or Mac)
  • A USB based installer for OS X (see here for a useful tool to help with this)
  • A working Time Machine backup of your Mac – update this before you start.
Stage One – Unlocking the spinning disk
  1. Boot the laptop in to Windows off it’s main hard disk – make sure you have an Internet connection and a browser with Adobe Flash capability.
  2. Connect the Black2 disk to the laptop using the USB -> SATA cable.
  3. Insert the WD USB key – crazy automatic things will start happening and you’ll find yourself at the product website on – you can safely remove the USB key at this point.
  4. On the Overview tab which shows by default, click the Data Transfer Software link.
  5. Download the Acronis True Image WD Edition software (~230MB in size).
  6. Go back to the Overview tab and download the Partition Software as well – we’ll need that in step 11.
  7. Install the above software and start it, selecting Clone Drive.
  8. Use the Automatic option and, after some processing, you’ll be told that Windows needs to restart – click through this message for Acronis to start it’s own boot Loader and complete the clone process – the laptop will shut down automatically once it’s completed.
  9. Now things get physical. Remove the drive from your donor laptop and replace with the Black2.
  10. Boot and wait. Hopefully it’ll just start up pretty much like normal here. Don’t be surprised if Windows reports that a chkdsk needs to be run during startup – the disk has been completely re-written after all!
  11. Once Windows has started, it’ll likely request a reboot to complete installation of the new hardware. I know, I know, using Windows is a pain.
  12. Now we need the Partition Software which hopefully was downloaded back in step 5. Install it and follow the wizard through.
You should now have two partitions available on the Black2:
Stage Two – Drive partitioning 
  1. Remove the disk from the PC laptop and put it’s own laptop back. Happy Windows machine.
  2. Connect the Black2 back to the SATA USB adaptor and connect it up to your Mac.
  3. Fire up Disk Utility and erase the disk – make it a single Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume.
  4. Download the OS X Recovery Disk Assistant from here – run it to create a correctly sized recovery partition on the disk.
  5. Now, in Disk Utility again, create two partitions on the disk. Make the first 119GB (to allow for the first part of the disk being used for the Recovery partition. The second should be 1TB. I called mine SSD and HDD just for clarity.
Stage Three – Create the Fusion drive
  1. In Terminal, type: diskutil list and press Enter. You should be able to find the disk easily if you named the disks as I did in Stage Two above.
  2. Once you’ve found the SSD and HDD partitions, note down the Identifier for each of the partitions
  3. In Terminal, type: sudo diskutil cs create Fusion disk4s2 disk4s3 (the last two items should be the Identifier of your partitions – SSD first, then HDD.
  4. Check through the resulting text to make sure everything worked without error – here’s mine for reference:
    • Started CoreStorage operation
      Unmounting disk4s2
      Touching partition type on disk4s2
      Adding disk4s2 to Logical Volume Group
      Unmounting disk4s3
      Touching partition type on disk4s3
      Adding disk4s3 to Logical Volume Group
      Creating Core Storage Logical Volume Group
      Switching disk4s2 to Core Storage
      Switching disk4s3 to Core Storage
      Waiting for Logical Volume Group to appear
      Discovered new Logical Volume Group “2A40C88F-0E1F-433D-BEA5-55A19BEBCB9F”
      Core Storage LVG UUID: 2A40C88F-0E1F-433D-BEA5-55A19BEBCB9F
      Finished CoreStorage operation
  5. Once the Fusion drive is created, it needs to be formatted. But before we can do that, we need to find the ID for the Fusion drive. In Terminal, type: diskutil cs list – the long alphanumeric string for the Logical Volume Group is the one you want – copy that to the clipboard – we’ll use it in the command in Step 6.
  6. Now, in Terminal, type: diskutil cs createVolume <ID string> jhfs+ “Macintosh HD” 100%
    • This will create a filesystem called Macintosh HD that takes all the space available on the Fusion drive
  7. All going well, the disk is now ready for final installation in your OS X device
Stage Four – Install the unit in your machine
I’ll leave this one alone, assuming A) you know what you are doing or B) you can follow one of the many excellent resources on the net – from instructions at OWC or Lifehacker, to videos on youtube.
If installing into a Mac with a hard disk temperature sensor, you can bypass the sensor with a small jumper wire (this mitigates against the fan-on-full issue which will occur if the sensor is not bypassed). There are instructions out there on how to do this bit as well.
Stage Five – Reinstall your OS

This is where your USB installer for OS X & Time Machine backup come into play – plug it into the Mac and boot from it and reinstall OS X onto the new drive then follow the instructions to restore from your Time Machine backup.

Note that the first steps of this procedure would also enable the drive for use in a linux machine. With root mounted on the SSD and /home on the HDD portion, this would also speed up your favourite linux box!

I hope this has helped – let me know in the comments if you have any questions that I might be able to answer for you.

6 Replies to “Installation of a Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive in a Mac”

  1. Thanks for this useful blog post. I've just got a WDBlack2 and was shocked at suddenly thinking I might have a drive that I can't use – I'd never think to check compatibility on a hard drive!

    I'll be installing Ubuntu on the drive so might have to change a few of your steps, but if I have success I will let you know and possibly write the second set of steps specifically for Ubuntu.

  2. Awesome Mike!

    Yeah – blew me away as well. But – it should be just as easy to get it up and running in Ubuntu. I'd recommend mounting root to the SSD partition and /home on the HDD partition obviously – but you've probably already thought of that!


  3. So following that comment I followed the procedure and have a working Ubuntu machine running on the drive.

    Having been using this now for about a month I've noticed one persistent problem which I am trying to solve. The issue is that the spinning disk seems to constantly be spinning up, stopping and spinning down again. I am unsure if this is because when I repartitioned it the partitions did not end up fully on either drive.

    To help me diagnose it, would you be able to post up the byte offsets of your partitions and which end of the drive they're on?

  4. Hey there Mike,

    I'd be more than happy to help out once I get back to work (where those devices are). Should be able to later on this week.

  5. Dear Sir

    I did all of your steps, did you mean will fiend 2 partitions, one for 120 SSD and one for 1 TB HD?

    But not working with me because I have in terminal list only disk5s for WD black2

    Note: I did the firmware Update for Mac b4 and when i tried to make a driver on windows i got the error that unable to fiend WD Black2 🙁

    please help me….

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