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I have a Thinkpad T500, it was running Windows 7 Pro. The hard drive (normal 160GB SATA drive, 5400rpm) started making a clicking / chirping sound and things started becoming unstable so I bought a new drive. I went with a Crucial M4 128GB SSD; I figured the price wasn't too bad and it sounded like there were a number of benefits to the SSD.

The hardware install went straightforward - popped the old drive out, put the new drive in. I'm trying to install Windows 7 Pro x64 from scratch and the installer always errors out.

I can boot with the DVD, and initiate the install. The problem seems to be in the "Expanding files..." section of the installer. It will go on for awhile, and then pop up an error message about something failing or being corrupted and to try the install later. It usually happens after the "Expanding..." section gets to 100%. If I reboot and let it bypass the DVD next (since Windows was sort of partially installed?) then I either get something about a corrupted install, or a couple of times I've had a blue screen. And once, early on, it seemed like it finished the initial install but then on the windows bootup it detected an error in the drive and ran chkdisk.

At one point I did get an error during expanding that referenced a corrupted file on the install disc. I wondered if my disc was bad (it was burned from an MSDN iso) so I burned a new copy. That hung on the initial boot, sitting at a black screen for maybe 5-10 mins before getting to the windows installer screen, I set it to continue before going to bed and it ended up the same way.

I downloaded and ran from Lenovo's site a BIOS update and an SSD firmware update utility. The SSD update utility didn't find any needed firmware updates, and the BIOS didn't seem to need updating either.

I guess I'm going to try a new Ubuntu install next and see if that works. I really wanted Win7 as my main install and then I'd use Ubuntu as a virtual guest. I thought I'd just be able to pop in the new drive, install Windows as normal and go from there. Am I missing some other sort of prep work? Could I have a bad drive? Is there such a thing? How would I know? I guess maybe there's the other possibility that the laptop itself is dying or some other component is faulty but I'm not sure what I'd do in that case. Maybe I could grab a cheap new standard laptop drive and see if that worked to rule out something, too.

Is there anything else I should try?

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I can't think of anything that you're doing wrong, so there must be a problem elsewhere, FWIW. These Crucial drives have terrible QA so it wouldn't surprise me if there was just something wrong with that one. – Shinrai May 4 '12 at 14:09
@Shinrai thanks! That's disappointing about the QA - all the reviews I saw listed the M4 as awesome. If I still have problems, esp. if I try Ubuntu and it's still weird I'll probably pick up a cheap HDD and see if the install works there - then send the SDD to get a replacement or something. One thing I've found this morning is I think there's a newer firmware from Crucial that was just released - I'll try updating that, too. Seems like there's reports similar to mine here and there, too. Sigh... – Peter Tirrell May 4 '12 at 14:32
This is a shot in the dark...Is your system overclocked? I had trouble with Win 7 failing at about same spot you are and found I had to switch off the overclocking. Install went fine, then turned it back on. – CharlieRB May 4 '12 at 14:38
@edmicman - Personally I would never use a non-Intel drive for a system drive - the failure rate on all the other mainstream manufacturers is just too high for my tastes. Of course, those are relatively expensive. You're right that grabbing a $40 hard drive for a test is probably a wise idea. – Shinrai May 4 '12 at 14:40
up vote 1 down vote accepted

What could the issue be?

  • It could be a failing Optical drive.
  • It could be bad Ram.
  • It could be a bad SSD.
  • It could be a bad burning drive (burning bad install discs).

In a perfect world, I would have taken the 160gb drive (which hadn't failed yet if I read your question correctly), I would have reduced the size of the partition to smaller than 128gb, and I would have cloned that onto the SSD from another computer... but then again, I have all the equipment to be able to connect both those drives to another computer. This would bypass any potential RAM issues, optical drive issues, etc.

You can try testing the RAM on the target machine with Memtest86, or just booting to a LiveCD of Linux like Linux Mint. Booting to Mint isn't foolproof, but it does encompass a few tests... if the target machine optical drive is at fault (or the burning machine optical drive), you most likely wouldn't reach a desktop in Mint, or if the target machine RAM was at fault, you most likely would not be able to run a stable OS out of that RAM. At any rate, these steps help you eliminate possibilities. They ALSO cost far less than getting ANOTHER hard drive just to see what might be wrong. Wouldn't it stink if you bought another hard drive, and it turned out to be the burning drive on the machine you've been making these discs on?

It is unlikely that it is a setting in the BIOS, because you shouldn't have had to change anything in order to use the SSD.

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The RAM shouldn't (hopefully?) be an issue - it's brand new as of a few weeks ago and so far has been running fine. I'm wondering if it's bad burning drives or bad install discs. The original discs I used were burned awhile ago, and the new copy last night was me quickly scrambling to get another one out. My plan is now to try getting the install iso onto a bootable flash drive and try that, or try burning a disc at a slower speed. Then try installing / running Ubuntu or something and see if that works. At this point do I need to do anything to "reset" the drive for a clean install? – Peter Tirrell May 4 '12 at 17:42
No, nothing special, other than blowing the existing partition and starting from scratch. RAM shouldn't be an issue, but you should't assume.... other than assuming your burning drive is good enough to burn a copy of Memtest86. I can remember a time when one of two sticks of Ram was bad, but only in an upper register that was only accessed when large files were passed through both sticks. Windows would run without errors, but copying large files would result in CRC errors, and later reinstalling Windows would fail. – Bon Gart May 4 '12 at 17:49
Well wouldn't you know it. I finally got to running memtest after repeated fails to boot to USB and the Ubuntu lived acting weird. Memtest is blowing up with errors. Disappointing since it had been running on win for probably a month just fine. Maybe my weirdness from the beginning was ram all along, though I still think the hdd was sounding pretty bad. Guess I'll get some new ram and go from there next...sigh... thanks all for all the help! I'll keep this posted with updates when it's resolved. – Peter Tirrell May 5 '12 at 13:50
That's one issue down... hopefully it's the only issue. It would indeed explain the troubles you've been facing. – Bon Gart May 5 '12 at 14:14

First, make sure the new drive is configured correctly in the bios (is it actually being detected (which i would assume it is as your already trying to install to it!), is it set to AHCI mode). If all is well, you could try to install from a USB device instead of a disk, using UNetbootin:

Hope this helps.

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I do know that it's set to AHCI mode as I saw that in the BIOS last night. I'll maybe have to look into the install from USB if it comes to that! – Peter Tirrell May 4 '12 at 14:30

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