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newTPguy
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Registered: ‎05-13-2009
Location: Buffalo, NY
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Message 1 of 13

Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

I recently purchased an X230 (with a 500GB HDD) for use in a programming/scientific computing context. I also wanted to use SSDs for their speed but have the mechanical drive available for storage so I went for an mSATA drive (120 GB). With respect to the SSD, I want to use Lenovo's factory install image instead of a clean install (factory install appears to be more power efficient and I also wanted to keep the OS that came with the laptop - Win 8 Pro). Another reason was that I wanted the Thinkvantage Onekey/Blue-Button (although it is now black :-)) restore functionality to stay intact.

 

So, I used Lenovo's R&R to create a factory restore USB key. As advised in several online forums I made a 16GB USB drive bootable and then used Lenovo's Thinkvantage utilities to create my Recovery Media drive. I chose the option to copy the full Recovery drive onto to USB key (I did NOT click on the "delete original recovery partition" option so I'm assuming that that partition is still on the HDD). Then I physically installed the mSATA SSD into the X230, removed the old HDD, put in the USB and booted the system. No problems at all. The laptop picked up the OS from the USB key and "restored" it to the mSATA SSD. I rebooted and things appeared to work fine (and MUCH faster!).

 

Since I wanted to retain the old HDD as a "data" drive I then put it back in and booted again. The laptop boots fine (using the OS in the SSD) but (a) it does not detect the HDD at all and (b) the mSATA drive does not have the Recovery partition (it has only 3 partitions instead of 4 that were there on the original HDD).

 

Given this situation I have a few things I want to achieve and would very much appreciate any help in this regard:

 

1. First of all, I need to get the OS to detect the 500 GB HDD. At present it does not show up either in Disk Management or even in the Device Manager. It just in not being "seen" by the OS so I cannot do any drive letter assignment / formatting etc.

 

 

2. Assuming #1 is solved, I want to retain all system recovery related partitions on the 500 GB HDD (recovery, system_drv, etc.) as it is and be able to point the Thinkvantage button to the Recovery Partition on the mechanical HDD in case I need to do a "factory restore" to the mSATA SSD at a later date. The advantage of having that facility is that while traveling, if the system needs to be restored for any reason, I can simply hit the Thinkvantage button and have a working computer available. Even if the Factory Restore USB key is not available, I should be able to restore the system to a working state using Lenovo's factory install as the baseline.

 

 

3. If it is possible, I would like to be able to make a second, "working" image AFTER all new programs (such as MS Office, MATLAB, Visual Studio, MikTeX etc.) have been installed. In the ideal situation, if the Thinkvantage button can be pointed to this, second, image for a 'factory' restore, it would be great.

 

The key point with the above is that I am hoping to set up a system that is "self-contained" in terms of recovery options. Of course, one can always clean install an OS (Windows or Linux) OR use the Recovery Media for restores but I'd like to be able to carry the factory as well as the "custom" restore images within the HDD. Can someone help/provide directions for the above?

 

Thank you in advance!

 

UPDATE: For some reason the OS has started detecting the re-inserted HDD after I ran Windows Update. I haven't figured out how or why. As of now, I am able to "see" the old HDD as Disk 0 and the new mSATA SDD as Disk 1. I have formatted the old C drive and renamed it as "Data" as well as assigned it a new drive letter using Disk Management. The old system restore partitions (three of them including the Lenovo recovery partition) are still there on the mechanical drive. I now have two of those on the mSATA drive too (one 1000 MB partition and another 260 MB partition). The 12 GB Lenovo recovery partition exists only on the old drive. Havent' tested R&R using the old recovery partitions yet.

newTPguy
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Message 2 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

UPDATE 2:

 

The rescue and recovery does not work with this setup. When I tried to run the system recovery via Win8 (Restore PC/Refresh PC) option, the process aborts after couple of screens with the error message that Windows cannot find the recovery partition. I'm guessing that this has something to do with the Lenovo_Recovery partition being on the HDD (Disk 0) while the OS is on the mSATA (Disk 1). The Lenovo_Recovery partition is currently a hidden partition. I tried unhiding it and assigning a drive letter to it but it does not seem to make a difference. Any thoughts/help?

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Message 3 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

Hi,

 

I'm interested in how you eventually sort this out.  Unfortunately I don't have anyting useful to contribute other than what you've already found: it's going to be very difficult (or imposible) to boot the recovery tools and partition when they don't share a drive with your main OS.  My guess is that even if you do manage this, recovery will try to recover  to the HDD, not the SSD.  At least that's what I think would happen with Win 7.  Not sure about Win 8.

 

I'll share how I got someting similar working on my T420 running Win 7.  You might be able to arrange the same thing in Win 8, but it's going to be a little more challenging given UEFI/secure boot.

 

First, I didn't do this with the Lenovo tools.  I used Acronis.  I installed a Crucial M4 mSATA SSD 256GB as the primary OS drive and kept the 500G HDD as a data and backup drive.

 

I installed the grub bootloader to the HDD (standalone, but it could also be part of a Ubuntu install or other Linux) and use it to boot an Acronis ISO along with a bunch of other utilities.  Acronis is also installed in Win 7 on the SSD.

 

This lets me pull full OS drive backups from the running Win 7 and save them on the HDD.  If the SSD gets sideways I can boot the HDD and restore from there.  I also take full backups (both drives) and save them on an external drive.

 

Not sure this is much help, but maybe something to contemplate.  As I said, I haven't tried this with Win 8.  It may be different enough from '7 that there is some way to directly do what you want.  Hopefully someone else will chime in.  I have set up UEFI/secure dual boot w/Ubuntu and Win 8 - FWIW.

 

Z.


The large print: please read the Community Participation Rules before posting. Include as much information as possible: model, machine type, operating system, and a descriptive subject line. Do not include personal information: serial number, telephone number, email address, etc.


The fine print: I do not work for, nor do I speak for Lenovo. Unsolicited private messages will be ignored - questions and answers belong in the forum so that others may contribute and benefit. ... GeezBlog

 

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newTPguy
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Message 4 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

Thanks Z. Getting some response (even if not very encouraging Smiley Tongue) is nice. Here is what my thinking is at this point in time:

 

1. I'll probably use Windows' native system restore/image facility for my objective #3. I still don't know if I can store it on the HDD and in the event of an SSD refresh being needed, be able to pull it automatically from the HDD during initial boot-up. While playing around with Restore/Refresh PC in Win8 I was once prompted to point the computer towards a system restore point/image. So I'm guessing that doing a Windows backup (after all installs of desired and removals of undesired software) would enable this functionality. Whether that image *has* to be on the SSD...I don't know.

 

2. I saw a post that does something like what I'm looking for on an Ideapad (Y580). The link is here. I don't know if this would work on the 'classic' thinkpad lines like X, T or W series laptops. I tried some parts of option A but did not see any drive letter for Lenovo_Recovery. Since work interrupted, I could not proceed further. Also, while exploring on a different track I found that the Lenovo_Recovery partition is a hidden one with no drive letter assigned to it. So, I'm unclear on how this whole procedure will play out (if at all). Will play around later and let you know.

 

3. I've done the dual-boot thing with my T400 and am satisfied with that set up but this laptop is for my wife and I don't want to set up a system that needs too much messing around or re-boots. I hope to get a working W8 system with a Linux VM inside it (for all *nix related coding she might want to do). I've bought an 8GB stick to go along with the 4GB that came with this laptop so I think 12GB RAM should be more than enough for any VM.

 

BTW, after the mSATA is in place and has the Lenovo factory W8 in place, this system boots in like 5-6 seconds! I couldn't beleive it. Think there are a lot of W8 improvements under the hood. My T400 with W7 and a Samsung SSD still takes upwards of 20 seconds to boot. Program load-up times are also a bit faster on W8 (the difference is noticeable although it could also be because I'm playing with a new system Smiley Happy).

 

Anyway, let's hope that someone has some ideas on how to accomplish objective #2

 

newTPguy
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Message 5 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

Update 3:

 

The R & R is still not functional. I assigned the HDD recovery partition a letter and looked inside - the drive contains an install.wim file (around 8GB in size). I'm assuming that is the factory install image. There is also an Sdrive.zip (50 MB) and Wdrive.zip (250MB) inside the Recovery partition - maybe images/copies of the other two system recovery partitions. Apart from that, there are other files in this partition but since I don't know much about what to do with them I left them alone.

 

One peculiar thing though: After I had installed the mSATA SSD I had made it the C drive using Disk Management and had made the old HDD partition the Data drive (I chose the letter E for it). This was to ensure that all OS related stuff stays on a viable C: drive while data is separately stored on the mechanical drive. However, when I boot into the recovery menu (F11 at boot) and then go on to the DOS shell from there, using DISKPART and listing volumes shows that the mechanical HDD partition (that is now my Data drive) is still designated as C. The mSATA SSD drive that actually contains the Windows8_OS has the letter D assigned to it. So, I manually re-assigned my intended letters to the two drives (HDD based Data partition as E and mSATA based OS partition as CSmiley Happy. Reboot. Guess what, no effect on drive letters! Whenever I go into the recovery menu the HDD (Disk 0) shows up as C while the OS partition on the mSATA (disk 1) shows up as D. I did the re-assignment of drive letters using admin shell so I'm pretty sure I had all the "rights" to do this and logically, I expected these changes to be persistent. But that is not what happened.

 

In contrast, if I allow the laptop to boot up normally, everything is fine except that Reset/Refresh PC does not work.. The mSATA is C and HDD drive is E (as I want them to be). Why is there the difference in drive letters depending upon whether it is an F11 boot or a normal boot? Does this have something to do with the disk numbers? The HDD is disk 0 and mSATA is disk 1. Can I change the disk # for the two disks? Will that  make a difference to R&R, I.e., does this have something to do with why thinkvantage button is not working in this setup?

newTPguy
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Message 6 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

Update 4:

 

So I cleaned up the current install and before installing new software I ran the native W8 utility to create a system image. The utility is called "Windows 7 Recovery" for some reason. Doing that allowed me to create a custom image and moreover, since that custom image has been developed using Lenovo Factory image as the basis, I'm good with it. I have backed up that image on an external HDD as my "first custom image".

 

For now, that image also exists on the Data (ESmiley Happy drive. Interestingly, when I go into the "Refresh PC" --> "Advanced" options and select "System Image Recovery" the screen now shows the custom image I created, except it shows that image being stored in "Data (CSmiley Happy". So the system is still reading the HDD as the C drive but treating it as a Data (ESmiley Happy drive in reality. If I boot into Windows, the two drives show up with the letters I assigned them earlier (mSATA is C and HDD is ESmiley Happy. I haven't actually run the restore option fully to observe if this approach re-installs the custom image to the mSATA drive. Will update that later.

 

On the disk number issue: From my readings on the internet, I understand that during boot the CPU queries all SATA drives simultaneously and the first drive it 'hears back from' it designates as Disk 0, then Disk 1 etc. Since the mSATA drive is on the slower SATA II port (while the HDD is on the SATA III port), I "think" it is always second in responding to this query and as a result it is most likely to be designated Disk 1 while the SATA III HDD is going to be Disk 0. To my purposes I think this detail is not relevant (except possibly as an explanation for why my drive letters are mixed up during cold-boot).

 

To Z's point, the only other thing left to check is if having the recovery partition on the mSATA drive will make the Thinkvantage button function. I'm coming to agree with Z's view that the recovery partition needs to be on the same physical drive for Lenovo R&R to "work". That said, there is also some indication that it may not be necessary - for ex. inside the Recovery partition the image is still a .wim image so I think Lenovo is beginning to move in the direction of using native Windows 8 image tools/formats to do their one-key/thinvantage stuff. If that indeed is the case, it should be possible to replace their .wim with one's own custom wim file. The technet.microsoft.com site has details on how to do that. I'm planning to use some of that to create a custom wim that I can place in a recovery partition created on the mSATA disk. Again, will update as and when I get to it.

 

If someone has inputs on my line of thinking or suggestions, I'd appreciate help. I'm not exactly proficient or trained in computer OS stuff so I could do with help Smiley Happy.

 

PS: One more thing, I had briefly considered using EasyBCD to set up the system I want (so that the Recovery image is one of the BCD options) but it appears that UEFI does not play nice with EasyBCD 2.2. In fact, some posters are suggesting that it could be deadly for the system. So that is an option best left unused at this point in time.

 

 

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Message 7 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install


@newTPguy wrote:

Update 4:

 

So I cleaned up the current install and before installing new software I ran the native W8 utility to create a system image. The utility is called "Windows 7 Recovery" for some reason. Doing that allowed me to create a custom image and moreover, since that custom image has been developed using Lenovo Factory image as the basis, I'm good with it. I have backed up that image on an external HDD as my "first custom image".

 

...

 


Is the intent to use that "first custom image" to transfer to the SSD?  IIRC there's no resizing capability when restoring one of those images.  At least, no downsizing capability.  (My memory may be off here, and I will be happy to be corrected.)  That image would be OK for restoring to another HDD, but probably not as a way to migrate to smaller media unless the C: partition was squashed first Smiley Sad

 

To actually get the HDD contents (including a working recovery image) transferred to SSD you may need to go outside Lenovo and WIndows and use some other cloning tool.  @andyP  has a bi-lingual KB that should be helpful if you end up going that way:  http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/T400-T500-and-newer-T-series/Hard-Drive-Festplatte-Migration-To-mSATA/ta...

 

A final fall-back might be to just order recovery media from Lenovo support.  The media will install to (pretty much) any size target drive and give full out-of-the-box functionality.

 

One last unsolicited remark:  It's my understanding that SSDs can fail abruptly.  Moreso than spinners.  Having a recovery image on the SSD can be useful if Windows messes itself, but not so handy if the drive just goes belly-up.  OTOH, we're talking about Win 8 here so protection against OS b0rkage might be worth something...

 

Regards,

Z.


The large print: please read the Community Participation Rules before posting. Include as much information as possible: model, machine type, operating system, and a descriptive subject line. Do not include personal information: serial number, telephone number, email address, etc.


The fine print: I do not work for, nor do I speak for Lenovo. Unsolicited private messages will be ignored - questions and answers belong in the forum so that others may contribute and benefit. ... GeezBlog

 

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newTPguy
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Message 8 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

Thank you Z. The link you sent has been very educational Smiley Happy.

 

"Is the intent to use that "first custom image" to transfer to the SSD?  IIRC there's no resizing capability when restoring one of those images.  At least, no downsizing capability.  (My memory may be off here, and I will be happy to be corrected.)  That image would be OK for restoring to another HDD, but probably not as a way to migrate to smaller media unless the C: partition was squashed first :smileysad:"

 

I am not completely certain about this but it appears that the "image" that W8 seems to make is not like the traditional full-drive, block-by-block image - it seems to rely primarily on files/folder contents and not on physical block contents. In that sense is probably closer to a copy/paste than to an "image". This should mean that destination disk size need not be equal or larger than source disk size. In my case for instance, I first made the 12-14 GB R&R USB key using Lenovo's Create Recovery Media utility (which in turn used an "install.wim" file residing inside the hidden Lenovo Recovery partition on the HDD) to create the Recovery USB key. I was able to use this recovery key to "recover" the factory install onto a clean, brand-new mSATA which is much smaller in size than the HDD but nevertheless large enough to host a full W8 OS.

 

I guess the issue of image size is even less relevant from my perspective since I make it a practice to keep ALL user data on a different partition (usually an 'E' partition called "Data")....I don't even use the My Documents/My Downloads/My Music etc. folders. This is an outcome of old dual-boot habits. I want my work/play stuff to be accessible from any OS I choose to boot into in a multi-boot environment. I've successfully managed to 'educate' my wife on this practice too Smiley Happy. The difference this time is that I have this data on a physically different drive than the OS drive. That makes me feel a bit more secure. BUT, I also wanted access to the thinkvantage R&R goodies that were pre-existing on the HDD. And that is where I'm currently stuck.

 

Now, coming back to the thing I learned from the link you sent my way. I never realized that W8 is using hibernate as a way to hasten "boot-up" times. Now I understand (somewhat) why I was perpetually getting "the hard drive is locked, unlock it before you restore/refresh your PC" messages. Since the system was, in reality, never fully shut down, there was no way to do anything with it. This might also explain the drive letter mix up I was seeing on the so-called cold boots. So now I'm going to try whatever I did earlier with the BIOS-based shut down executed and see what happens.

 

"A final fall-back might be to just order recovery media from Lenovo support.  The media will install to (pretty much) any size target drive and give full out-of-the-box functionality."

Yes. That option is always there. However, I also took care to make the Factory Recovery USB before I started anything (hopefully the USB key is reliable...I got a Sandisk USB so I'm putting some faith in their brand Smiley Happy). And my experience suggests that that key will install the factory image to any hard drive.

 

"One last unsolicited remark:  It's my understanding that SSDs can fail abruptly.  Moreso than spinners.  Having a recovery image on the SSD can be useful if Windows messes itself, but not so handy if the drive just goes belly-up.  OTOH, we're talking about Win 8 here so protection against OS b0rkage might be worth something..."

 

Thank you Z. This thing has bothered me too (especially wrt to mSATA since it is a non-trivial task to remove/replace it). As you outline, the situation you describe can be classified into two eventualities:

First, a catastrophic drive failure: In that case, I'll just have to remove the mSATA, throw the d**n thing out and replace with another (if I've saved enough money by then). Or, use the USB key or a Linux Live USB to boot the laptop, back all data off the HDD and then reinstall the factory image to the HDD.

Second, Windows messes itself up: This was the context I was trying to get the Thinkvantage to work smoothly. Since that appears to be less likely with each passing attempt, the next best thing for me would be to use Windows tools to create a custom restore image that can be used to image this system back to health if the need arises. My wife might have to boot into the recovery menu and choose the options through that but I think it is a workable (although less user-friendly) solution. The thinkvantage-button-press approach would have been ideal. Let's see if I can get something close to that set up.

 

Will keep this corner updated.

 

newTPguy
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Message 9 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

Further Update:

 

Work has made progress in this front very slow. Haven't had the time to fully test out the full shutdown vs. hybrid shutdown processes. At first glance, the full shutdown (actual cold boot) does not appear to be making much of a difference. Maybe my issues are something to do with UEFI boot options (I don't have the knowledge or skill to figure that part out).

 

In fact, the time since my last update has been spent primarily learning how to set up VMs in VMWare. That part is almost done. Once over, the system will be set up "exactly the way I want it".  At that point, I'm going to use Windows Imaging facility to create a second (working) system image on the HDD. I already have a Custom (light, initial) Factory Image saved on an external HDD. Once the new "Working" image is fixed, I plan on testing out the restoration process using this image via the Advanced Boot options. If it works, it acts as an insurance against the "windows messing itself up" eventuality. It also acts as an insurance in the event of a catastrophic mSATA failure.

 

For now, I just don't have the time to get into using the command line tools to create *.wim images. I also found out that the utility I'm using (Windows 7 File Recovery) actually creates *.vhd virtual disks. So in a way, they are true "images" with the sole exception that they don't image the entire hard drive but only the "used" portion.

 

Will update again later this week.

newTPguy
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Message 10 of 13

Re: Retaining thinkvantage functionality after mSATA install

Update again:

 

So I've set up the system, taken a Windows image (vhd) of the system and put it on the Data (HDD) drive. I set the BIOS options to disable the "enhanced boot" option so that I get a true, cold boot. When I boot in and use F11, the standard W8 restore screen comes up; I pick troubleshoot, then advanced and try the refresh and reset PC options. Both don't work (same messages as before). I go to the command prompt, use DISKPART to list volumes and sure enough, the HDD is C and the mSATA is D. I change the volume labels, go back to troubleshoot and use the Recover from Image option. The latest image shows up on E drive and when I click on that the system reads that image (takes about 10-12 minutes) but at the last point (just when the green line is at the end of the progress bar), gives me an error message saying that there are multiple drives with same letters and so Recover from Image cannot do its thing.

 

So it appears that no matter what I do the system is still reading the HDD as C and not the mSATA as C.

 

At this point in time objective #2 is still out there. Will update again later.....

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