How to upgrade to an SSD on a Sony Vaio VPCSA

I recently saw a sweet deal on the Intel 320 series SSD and decided it was a good time to upgrade to solid state on my Vaio laptop, a VPCSA – which is quite a nice ultrabook, by the way. Boy was it harder than I expected :)

The challenges:
1) The Vaio has only 1 internal SATA interface
2) The Vaio has an internal battery and tricky placement of the drive bay
3) The Intel SSD software doesn’t work unless you have the drive directly connected

The solutions:
1) Use an external USB drive (see challenge 3…)
2) Patience
3) I had to use a third party solution to migrate my data connected to the external USB interface

Disassembly is difficult.  First, you have to get access to the battery compartment by removing the screws on the front edge of the laptop bottom.

Image showing the removed screws

The screws are tiny so you have to be careful when removing them.

Next, with the back off, you must remove the battery.  The following image shows the laptop with battery exposed:

Sony Vaio VPCSA with battery cover removed

The following image shows me removing the battery by pulling the slot tab:

Removing the battery on the Sony Vaio VPCSA

Finally, you have to remove the screws on the drive tray, disconnect the small connector with the “B” on it, then remove the drive tray.  The following image shows the laptop with battery removed:

Image showing the Sony Vaio VPCSA with battery removed

When you remove (or reinsert) the drive, be very careful with the screws.  If the tiny screws fall down under the drive tray, you have to completely remove the tray again in order to retrieve the screws.  I had to pull the drive at least twice when I did it which is pretty frustrating.

After switching out the drive in the drive tray, perform the same steps in reverse to put the drive back in the PC. You can then boot your machine and migrate the appropriate partitions.

Tough, but worth it!  My WEI went up to a 7 for my HD and everything is very snappy.