Background first, key questions at the end
I would like to test a possibly wacky idea with the good and thoughtful people in this excellent forum. I hope I am posting in the right place, and I apologize if this is too much of a newbie question.
I utilize my trusty ThinkPad T61 7658cto almost every day, for both personal and professional purposes. It is at least 4 or 5 years old, runs Windows XP SP3 and the usual Office apps, along with a variety of security tools. I never had any reason to migrate to Vista. The hardware includes: Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 2.5GHz, 3GB RAM, Hitachi Travelstar 100 GB SATA hard drive (86 GB available after excluding the hidden partition), Intel WiFi Link 4965AGN, with a slot for a WWAN card that I have never used. It is as well-built as any of the older Thinkpads, and has survived years of hard use and domestic travel.
Now, I have an opportunity to take a 5-6 week vacation very soon, which will begin in the USA, and then include Hungary, Poland, Belgium, France, and possibly a few other countries. My time there will be quite flexible. I want to take a laptop mostly so that I can “stay connected” via email IM and Skype, upload my videos and photos every day, and use the internet to plan my next-day travels, lodging, flights, and so on. I do not think I should anticipate ever having a “secure” connection to the internet, so i don't plan to do any banking, for example.
When I mentioned to my wife that I would take my laptop along, she became quite concerned about the machine being lost or stolen. Now we all know that our data is more valuable than our hardware, which is why we are all careful to do regular backups, right? Here is my wacky idea, and I would appreciate some reactions.
Let us say that I go out and buy a new notebook hard drive (~$60 for a new 360GB drive), and a Windows 7 OEM installation disk (~$100 for Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit, ~$140 for Win 7 Pro 64). If I get those things installed, with the T61 working OK, I could just leave the current hard drive in ye olde safe deposit box here and head out with my “semi-new” machine. I would download and install any additional software that I need.
Upon my return with the trusty laptop, I could quickly swap the drives and pick up right where I left off weeks earlier. Of course, it is entirely possible that I will want to keep the new drive, with the newer OS and other software, and just move my old data from the old drive.
If the laptop disappears during the trip, there will be no critical data inside it, no chance for identity theft or other mischief. Of course, I would probably then buy a brand-new current-technology laptop when get home, and retrieve all my old important data from the old drive.
Yes, one might say that I am using the European trip as a thin excuse to do a $160 upgrade to my old machine instead of buying a new laptop. What I am curious about is:
•Has anyone else been down this path?
• Is it easy to do?
• Will the T61 boot up and install Win 7 with a new, empty HD?
• Can I just work my way through the T61 Device Matrix and install the appropriate Lenovo drivers one at a time?
Some of the T61 items DO list Win 7 (e.g. Access Connections, Intel Wireless, System Update) but some do not (e.g. Active Protection, Ethernet adapter, Help Center, TPM, CSS). So is Win 7 just a bad idea for the T61 right off the bat?
• Does the TP Active Protection feature work only on certain hard drives?
• Without a factory-installed recovery partition, can one use R&R and the blue ThinkVantage button?
• Are there other concerns that I should consider?
• ALTERNATIVELY, If I just spend the money to get a brand-new laptop to take on this trip, for the communication tasks described above, which model merits top consideration (and has immediate availability)?
Many thanks for any advice.
Searching around the Lenovo site,
I found instructions for how to install Microsoft Windows 7 on a computer with a blank hard drive or a hard drive that will be completely wiped clean during the installation process. Here is the link:
http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site. ... MIGR-74108
It seems like a very helpful page, and I am pleased to see that the T61 is listed.
So, now I am reassured that what was proposed above is possible, but that does not necessarily mean it is advisable.
Active Protection is specific to the machine, not the HDD.
Yes you can install R&R without the recovery partition. However, I would recommend using either Acronis or Paragon backup products rather than R&R. The main problem with R&R is that backups are too slow.
You mentioned installing Windows 7 OEM. That can be installed on the machine you describe and will activate as a valid copy of Windows but by the letter of the EULA it's not legal.
I just purchased a Hitachi Travelstar 320GB 7200 RPM with 16MB cache H2IK3201672SP. And, I purchased a non-OEM copy of MS Win 7 Pro Upgrade 64-bit and downloaded it as an ISO from digitalriver.
I am doing this project a little bit at a time due to other commitments.
When I get around to the installation to the brand-new HD, I suppose it will ask me for the serial number of the copy of Win XP on my old hard drive?
You no longer get a prompt during the setup process to insert the CD of the previously eligible product, as
you did for example with upgrading W2K to XP.
It now looks for an activated version of an eligible product on the disk. The advantage is that this is done before the allocation of partitions in setup, so, you can quite happily re-partition the drive and continue with the install.
With my refurbished T60, I just backed up the existing XP system, installed the new drive, restored the XP system (but never booted it) and then did the upgrade install over the top.
If you wish to use the Upgrade media on a totally blank drive, this can also be done. See the following link regarding using Upgrade media for a full install.
http://www.winsupersite.com/win7/clean_ ... _media.asp
Yoga 3 Pro, 13.3" touchscreen, CoreM 5Y70 @ 1.2GHz, 8GB RAM, Intel Broadwell-U Integrated Graphics, Linux Mint 17.3 (64-bit)
ThinkPad W500, 15.4" WSXGA+, T9400 @ 2.53 GHz, 8GB RAM, ATI Mobility FireGL V5700 / Intel GMA 4500MHD, Windows 10 (64-bit)
I finally had time to return to this project.
I decided to take the trusty old T61 on this trip, and think about getting a new machine, such as something in the X series, later.
Anyway, I stuck in the new 320GB HD and booted with my Win 7 Upgrade disk.
When I got to the formatting screen, I had the crazy idea to call Microsoft Support.
Well, a very nice fellow stayed with me through the rest of the install process.
Of course, even though they recommend a "clean install", it did not work right away because I had an Upgrade disk.
I am pretty sure that my name, email, and phone number linked to some MS database and confirmed that I owned various MS products. Anyway, it seemed that he looked me up somewhere, and he did not ask for any proof of an older operating system. Of course, I was completely honest in explaining what I was trying to do.
( I am thinking that all my Microsoft products, going back to MS-DOS ~25 years ago, were legal and properly purchased.)
Anyway, he still had to fiddle with the activation code at his end before it worked.
One unsolved problem is this:
I bought a new Hitachi Travelstar 320 GB drive.
The very first time Win7 saw the drive, it offered to create a single 200GB partition, and would have ignored the rest.
I wanted a different arrangement.
So he helped me format it as C: 100GB D: 100GB
and then for reasons neither of us could figure out, the E: partition would not go above 100GB. Yes, Win 7 created a special semi-invisible 100 MB partition for BitLocker.
At this stage I am talking about the formatting done by the Win 7 install disk.
I have not tried any other tools, but I am assuming that there might be 20 GB in limbo for the time being.
I let Windows Update do its thing, with plenty of reboots, until it got down to things I declined, such as ".Net Framework 4 Client Profile" Silverlight, and Live Essentials.
I then used Lenovo System Update; it installed only about 9 drivers, which is many fewer that were necessary under XP. So, either some of the usual drivers are just fine within Windows 7, or they just haven't made 64-bit drivers for this particular 3 or 4-year old laptop.
Interestingly, Microsoft Windows Update still wants to install 3 hardware-related updates
CXT Network software for the Thinkpad Modem published 8/20/2008
Intel Corp - Display 965 Express Chipset Family published 6/3/2010
Lenovo Display 1440x900 published 8/17/2008
I did NOT allow those.
Now, I need to find time to install all the rest of my programs.
However, at this time I can report that the T61 seems to be working OK as a Win 7 Pro 64-bit system. Also, I verified that I can swap the new disk for the old and it still boots just fine as my old XP system. My boot up and shutdown times are noticeably better with Win 7, but everything else seems to run the same as under XP.
Thanks again for all the help.
It's the age old problem of disk manufacturers confusing decimal and hex for sizing.
My 250GB drive only has 232GB of free space even when it's brand new and unformatted.
A 320GB will have (roughly) 300GB of free space to start with.
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