This idea comes courtesy of a colleague of mine and falls squarely in the category of “wish I’d thought of that a long time ago.” HDs and astronomical detector formats appear to grow at about the same rate, so there’s never any problem filling a laptop disk. I’ve been struggling to survive on my last 10 Gb for months now. So here’s a simple way to buy a little time: replace the DVD drive that you never use with a second hard drive.
I got this 256 Gb solid state drive as the replacement. Also necessary is a drive “caddy” so the small drive will fit in the spot vacated by the DVD drive. This one worked fine for my mid-2010 13″ MacBook Pro. Finally, here are simple instructions on how to open everything up (getting the appropriate screw driver also was helpful).
That was it for getting the drive installed. I opted not to bother installing the operating system on the new drive, which people recommend for really taking advantage of the speed of the solid state drive [in which case you’d also probably put the new drive where the original disk was and then put that one in the DVD space].
I also took advantage of the case being open to upgrade to 8 Gb of memory. Is there really a good reason why Chrome/Firefox/Safari quickly need upwards of 1 Gb of memory to run gmail and a few tabs?