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The laptop hard drive I'm trying to fix is dying soon. I happen to have a same model, size, type and brand hard drive in an external enclosure which has even less start/stop cycles, is younger and 100% healthy. Now I am inveigled to image the old drive on the healthy one and open the laptop, replace it. But I don't want to void warranty.

I know from thinkpad laptop screws (which are black colored), you can tell if they were ever unscrewed from the scratches on the color.

Is there a way to unscrew screws without them telling stories from the scratches they receive? I can't beam the drive into the laptop but i really want to replace it and give the owners a working laptop back without them loosing warranty rights.

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On most laptops you can replace the hard drive without opening the case. Changing the hard drive in that case will not void warranty. Have you checked the service manual for such an option? – mtak Jul 12 '14 at 11:50
Yes, the service manual shows a rather unpleasant unscrewing procedure - the drive is hidden under the touchpad :( – panny Jul 12 '14 at 11:55
You might be able to find a plastic screwdriver, but it would likely not be hard enough to initially loosen the screws. You can minimize scratching by getting the RIGHT SIZE screwdriver and pressing it FIRMLY and SQUARELY into the slot before turning. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 12 '14 at 13:11
(I don't quite get how if the drive is dying you're worried about voiding the warranty. Shouldn't you just get the drive replaced under warranty?) – Daniel R Hicks Jul 12 '14 at 13:13
That's true. But I have doctored around this laptop for a while now and when I give it back and the owners send it to warranty they loose time and I reputation ;) – panny Jul 12 '14 at 13:25

If the screw head is plainly painted, any kind of tool will be harder than paint surface and will easily scratch it off, so go for using a thin cloth over the point of the screwdriver.

If the paint is really low quality it might anyway crack and fall of due sheer pressure.

On the other side, some high quality screws are properly blackened with surface finishing harder than tool steel, and are almost immune to scratching, so it is ways easier doing good quality repairing works if you have to deal with them.

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