Moving to an SSD on Lenovo W520

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I have just reinstalled Windows 8 (again) on my Lenovo W520. This time it was because I moved to a Crucial m4 256Gb 2.5” internal SSD as my primary disk. There is a special slot for this type of drive under the keyboard, so I could also keep my 750Gb Hybrid SATA drive to be used for storing virtual machines.

I had initially planned to backup/restore my previous installation using IMAGEX as I had all I needed in my PC, but after two days of fiddling I had got nowhere, the problems being

  • The IMAGEX from my hybrid drive to an external disk (only 150Gb of data after I had moved out all my virtual PCs) took well over 10 hours. I thought this was due to using an old USB1 (maybe it was a USB2 at a push) disk caddy, but it was just as slow with a ESata. The restore from the same hardware only too an hour or so. One suggest made that I did not try was to enable compression in the image, as this would reduce the bandwidth on the disk connection, it is not as if my i& CPU could not handle the compression load.
  • When the images restored, we had to fiddle with Bcdedit to get the PC to boot
  • Eventually the Windows 8 SSD based image came up, you could open the login page with no issues but got no cursor for a long time, it it was sloooow to do anything – I have no idea why.

So in the end I gave up, and installed anew, including Visual Studio and Office it took about 30-45 minutes. There were still a couple of gotcha’s though

  1. I still had to enable the Nvidia Optumus graphics mode in BIOS, thus enabling both the Intel and Nvidia graphics sub systems. I usually only run on the discrete NVidia one as this does not get confused by projects. if you don’t enable the Intel based one then the Windows 8 install hangs after installing drivers and before the reboot that then allows you to login and choose colours etc. As soon as this stage is passed you can switch back to discrete graphics as you wish. I assume the Windows 8 media is missing some NVidia bits that it find after this first reboot or via WIndows Update.
  2. Windows 8 is still missing a couple of drivers for the Ricoh card reader and Power management, but these are both released on the site. You do have to download these manually and install them. All the other Lenovo drivers (including updated audio I have mentioned before) come down from Windows update.

So the moral of the story is reinstall, don’t try to move disk images. Make sure your data is in SkyDrive, Dropbox, SharePoint, source control etc. so it is just applications you are missing which are quick to sort out. The only pain of a job I had was to sort out my podcasts, but even that was not too bad

7 Replies to “Moving to an SSD on Lenovo W520”

  1. Nice to hear that someone manages to get Windows 8 running on a W520 with SSD. I did a disk copy of my Win7 install to a Kingston 256Gb SSD Now and that worked fine for some month. As soon as Win8 RTM came available I upgraded the Win7 installation to Win8. That worked for a couple of weeks until yesterday it decided to corrupt the whole disk(!). Countless efforts to get it working again, including clean installs. All hung at some point. Switched back to my Win7 installation on the 500gb drive and that works fine for now. The SSD disk is working also fine but getting Win8 on it seems mere impossible. The only culprit I can point to is the latest BIOS upgrade to 1.39 I flashed on it just before all went terribly wrong.

  2. Interesting, as since putting in the SSD I have intermitant 'BIOS cannot find hard drive' errors on boot. I suspected it was not seated properly, but seems that was not the case. It was like back 10 years ago with ESDI drives where you set the BIOS OK but cabled it wrong so it could not be seen. Last Friday Win 8 blue screened and would not boot, saying no SSD. Over the weekend I tried a few reboots, took the SSD out, back in and eventually it restarted and all seemed OK for 48 hours. (so I could take backup). On Monday I thought it might be BIOS so upgraded from 1.36>1.39. Booted OK for about an hour then blue screen and has not booted off the SSD since. Looks like a dead SSD to me – but frankly it never seemed right from first install. We have the same model in two other W520 which are fine, so currently wating for the replacement in the post. Lets see how that one goes

  3. After reformatting the SSD and running the Win8 Pro x64 installation again (from CD) all went well up to the selection of a Wifi connection. Never been that far! Does this means there still is hope??? So I hit the power button and tried again. This time all went well. Windows installation continued and I was able to login. So far so good. But does this mean I'm comfortable with it? Mwah…. just as I wanted to hit the Sent button all stopped at the Windows Update screen. (disk led stays on) Conclusion: No, this combination does not work reliable.

  4. Turns out I did have a dead SSD, popped in a replacement and all seems OK so far, and not BIOS cannot find SSD warning at all. Let us see if this lasts more than a week

  5. The HDD2 not found error has just appeared again – on a new SSD! This is getting beyond a joke. I have checked the Crucial site again, and seems that even with the latest SSD firmware I am not alone seeing problems with the M4 256Gb. But I have made a new discover, when I switched the W520 BIOS from quick boot to diagnostic boot it started working again. Maybe this is just a timing issue, and the slow full diagnostic boot (10 seconds as opposed to a couple) is enough to get around the problem

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