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I have a Lenovo Thinkpad T510 which has been runing Windows 7 32bits for almost two years now.

For some reason, the system got dusty and slow so I backed-up my data intending to format my HDD and reinstall Windows 7 32bits to give my laptop a fresh new start.

I downloaded the iso image of Windows 7 32bits from Microsoft's website a week ago and have tried to install it eversince, without success. The installation process systematically freezes at the "Starting Windows" screen, after the screen "Windows is loading files".

Unfortunately, I have been overconfident in the new install running smoothly and I deleted lenovo recovery tools when formatting the hard drive, so using them is not an option anymore.

From having googled the problem, I realize this seem to be a common issue. Yet I haven't found a solution so far from what I read on the google links.

What I have tried (based on what I have read from related problems)

  • Waiting for a long time (more than 30 minutes) on the --apparently -- frozen "Starting Windows" screen.
  • Updating my Bios.
  • Disabeling peripherics such as USB, Wifi, bluetooth,...
  • I have succesfully installed an old version of Windows XP and subsequently formated my HDD before trying to install Windows 7 again, without success.
  • Opening the CD player and closing it again when frozen on the "Starting Window" screen.
  • Boot from an USB stick instead of a DVD (in both cases I mounted the bootable DVD/USB with Microsoft utility's "Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel")

It might be worth to emphasize that this is not a computer I assembled myself, or a laptop which is new to Windows 7. This laptop used to run Windows 7 (slowly but surely) and the problem occured when trying to re-install it (which seems to rule out the possibility of a hardware issue right?).

Any clue on what could go wrong?

EDIT

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I am currently downloading new iso images and I will check the SHA1 or MD5 for them. Unfortunately starting in Safe mode did not help. I'll try again disabeling peripherics once I am sure that my iso images are not corrupted. I'll keep you updated.

EDIT 2

This has been a little nightmare. I tried multiple iso image from different webistes (http://www.raymond.cc/blog/links-for-windows-7-sp1-iso-from-microsofts-official-distributer/, http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-windows_install/where-can-i-download-windows-7-iso-i-have-a/7d964b05-2be9-4800-bc7f-3ca30356fc3d, http://www.shayatik.com/2013/03/download-windows-7-sp1-official-iso-from-digital-river/) verifying the SHA5 when available. Nothing works. I am going to stick to the XP version I installed which works great so far (why moving to windows 7 after all...). Thanks for you help anyways!

EDIT 3

I have survived with XP for a while but I really wanted to update given that windows is not supporting XP anymore (and it started to be real slow). So I gave it another. I am now sure it is not a problem with the .iso image. I have tried with multiple image which work perfectly fine on other computer

Recently I have tried something else :

  • Take the Hard drive out of the laptop,
  • Connect it to another device,
  • Install windows on this other device,
  • Put it back on my laptop

Unfortunately it did not work, neither with windows 7 nor with windows 8, although the same hard drive with the same os (7 and 8) work when connected to another computer. No more ideas...

EDIT 4

Re-installed windows XP. It still works. Conversely, tried to install two linux distributions (Ubuntu and Linux Mint) and both failed to install too. XP really seems to be the only OS running on my computer at this point. Still waiting to get my hand on some spare RAM to see if that's where the problem comes from following @Keltari suggestion.

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2  
Does your system have Lenovo's recovery partition? If yes, installing Windows through that would be a better solution.. –  Chethan S. Sep 22 '13 at 4:45
    
@Chethan : that would have been a great idea. I was not aware of this possibility. Unfortunately, I deleted the Lenovo recovery partition formating my HDD in my attempt to solve the problem :( –  Martin Van der Linden Sep 22 '13 at 5:00
    
Try booting into SafeMode? <F8>? Still might be a driver problem... Lenovo instructions for a clean isntall...with link for drivers. support.lenovo.com/en_US/detail.page?LegacyDocID=MIGR-74108 –  Logman Sep 22 '13 at 5:14
2  
It's possible that the image you downloaded, got corrupted during transfer (believe it or not, I have had this happen...). I'm not sure exactly where you downloaded the ISO from, but usually there is a MD5 or SHA1 hash. Try comparing it with the ISO you downloaded. –  druciferre Sep 22 '13 at 5:45
    
This is a wild shot, but can you boot your laptop from a live CD (or pen drive) and check the drives S.M.A.R.T. values? I bad part of disk might just be used with your new partitioning scheme and bad disk sectors can cause a hang or a very long timeout. –  Hennes Sep 23 '13 at 18:37

3 Answers 3

Try disabling EFI boot. Installing Windows 7 on UEFI based computer needs special treatment.

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Ive seen Windows installs fail on the "Windows is loading files" error so many times. Each time the reason has always been that RAM was faulty.

Run a memory diagnostics tool like memtest86 or the one that comes on modern Windows DVDs. I think Windows 7 has one on the DVD as well.

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thanks for the recommendation. As it turns out, I've just run a full memtest86 a couple of hours ago and got no error messages. As I wrote in the first post, I guess the fact that the former windows 7 install worked fine right before the first reinstall kind of rules out the possibility of hardware failures? –  Martin Van der Linden Jun 9 at 20:04
1  
well, bad memory can be intermittent. Unless the OS is trying to write to the bad memory block, everything will seem fine. On a machine with the same error you had, I was not able to install Windows, but Linux worked (but would randomly freeze - probably due to the bad memory) –  Keltari Jun 9 at 20:07
    
thanks for the precisions. This might be interesting advice because I recently suffered from a couple a blue screen running XP. Several in a couple of weeks, then went away. Maybe just a couple of memory blocks are damaged. What are the chances this would go undetected by memtest86? –  Martin Van der Linden Jun 9 at 20:11

I had the same issues with Lenovo T60 - Windows 7 installation would freeze right at the "Starting Windows" screen. Laptop also froze during Debian installation. XP would install fine. Tried everything but the obvious - removing the laptop battery, which fixed all the problems. In my case the battery was already fully dead - I only kept it in place to protect the connectors. I guess that in this particular case, a completely dead battery somehow affects the stability of the system, particulary during delicate operations like OS installations.

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