• Life extension for trusty laptop

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    Please forgive any dumb questions/assumptions below.
    We have a trusty Lenovo Thinkpad T61 that was a high-end machine a decade ago. It is ultra-reliable, actually built with lots of metal parts, and has been running Windows 7 Pro 64-bit for some years.     We would like to try Windows 10 on this machine and have heard (without details) that others have done it successfully.

    There is so much great info at this website, I hope someone smarter and more experienced than I will comment on the following plan:

    1. Back up the old HD on to two separate external HDs (I use AOMEI Backupper)
    2. Plug in new SSD using an external Diablo dock, and clone the old HD to the new SSD
    3. Remove old HD and set aside in case this project fails (in which case I would keep it as a long lived W7 machine with guidance from many threads here at AskWoody)
    4. Insert SSD into laptop and make sure it boots normally (still Win 7)
    5. Browse to Microsoft web page for downloading Windows 10; I think this is the one:
    6. On that screen, there is a button for Windows 10 November 2019 “Update Now” – would I be correct to assume that would trigger a process to update “in place”? Would that keep all the drivers and currently installed programs?
    7. There is a second button for “Create Windows Installation Media – Download Tool now”; I assume that will trigger a download to go on to a bootable USB thumb drive. I have a spare 8GB USB thumb drive for this purpose.
    8. Assuming that all has gone well so far, I have a couple of questions.
    9. When I boot from that installation media, will it endeavor to keep my drivers, data files, etc. and simply replace Win 7 OS with Win 10? Will it find the Win 7 Pro product key by itself?
    10. Or, will I be forced into a completely clean install to end up with nothing but Win 10 and a need to reinstall printers, restore data, etc. If this is the case will it ask me to type in the old Win 7 Pro product key for this free upgrade? Indeed, is it still free before Jan 14th?

    OK, that is all for now, I hope to learn a lot before I proceed, and I am sure there will be more questions coming later.

    Thank You.

    Viewing 17 reply threads
    • #2042608

      Make a bootable Rescue DVD/USB from AOMEI.
      Boot the computer from the Rescue media (NOT the computer HDD).
      Make a full disk image of the HDD )using the AOMEI running from the Rescue media, onto your external HDD. Choose the option for AOMEI to verify the image.
      Shut the computer down.
      Swap the original HDD and SSD.
      Boot the computer again into AOMEI from the Rescue media.
      Restore the image to the SSD.
      Shut the computer down, remove the Rescue media, and then boot from the SSD.

      If you Image from inside a running OS (like booting from the original HDD and running the installed AOMEI) to an attached second drive, you may have boot problems. When you Image/Restore, it is usually more successful if done from the bootable Rescue media so you are not trying to backup open files in the OS.

      Make your bootable installer for Win10.
      DO NOT boot from the bootable install media.
      Disconnect from the Internet/network.
      Insert the install media into the running Win7, access the media, and run setup.exe on the install media.
      Choose to save you data and programs.
      Setup a Local account, NOT an MS account.
      It will ask you to update during the install. You are not connected to the Internet, tell it no (several times).
      Once you have Win10 installed, go through all the settings in the Settings App and in the Control Panel, and change the GUI to the way you like it BEFORE you connect to the Internet. Be sure you have Windows Update controlled.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2042610


      IMHO, I would NOT do a clone. I would recommend:

      1. Take an Image Backup to an external HDD.
      2. Create a bootable USB key of   AOMEI if it supports that feature if not I’d recommend using Macrium Reflect Free for both steps 1 & 2.
      3. Install the SSD in the laptop and set the HDD aside as TOTAL disaster recovery.
      4. Boot from the USB Key created in step 2.
      5. Restore the Image to the SSD.
      6. Reboot.
      7. Reboot again from the USB Key containing your preferred version of W10, selecting the UPGRADE option thus avoiding loosing drivers, etc. and yes it should find your W7 key just fine. BTW from my own experience you can just as easily update directly from the W10 web page where you create the DL media but I know many here don’t like that option but it has always worked for me and at worst you can always restore from the HDD again if the direct method fails. Of course as always YMMV!

      Good Luck!

      HTH 😎

      May the Forces of good computing be with you!


      PowerShell & VBA Rule!
      Computer Specs

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2042651

      I was just thinking that the old HDD is a Hitachi Travelstar with 320GB of space.

      I  believe that it has a hidden recovery partition (probably provided by Lenovo years ago), and then is subdivided divided into 3 logical  drives C: D: E: of  100 GB each.

      The new SSD is a Crucial MX500 with 500 GB of space.

      Could I do the procedures above for just the C: drive which holds the OS,
      and then restore the data on D: and E: separately after the Win 10 is working?

      Or better to image backup the whole HDD?  I assume the AOMEI image and restore will not fail because of the size difference between the HDD and the SSD – right?

      Thank you!



      • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by AlphaCharlie.
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by AlphaCharlie.
    • #2042681
      1. Update all of the Thinkpad’s drivers from the Lenovo site. Use the most recent driver available even if it is not Windows 10. Windows 8 is the next best thing. During the following process the Windows 10 setup will also look for and install the appropriate drivers.
      2. Using Acronis or similar software mirror your drives onto an external drive for safe keeping and recovery of necessary.
      3. Go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10/ the Microsoft’s Windows 10 download page
      4. Click Update now and save the file.
      5. Open the update file and let it run.
      6. Sit back, relax, and follow the instructions that appear on the screen.
      7. Several hours later, if all goes well, Windows 10 will be installed. If the update fails the machine will normally be returned to the Windows 7 configuration.
      8. I have recently used this approach to breathe new life into four Windows 7 machines over the last month. Two of the machines were setup in 2009. I did not replace their existing drives.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Kathy Stevens.
    • #2042721

      We would like to try Windows 10 on this machine and have heard (without details) that others have done it successfully.

      Oh yes, I can verify that this is the case.

      My father got the without-permission autoupgrade to 10 back when those were going on and it didn’t break anything so he didn’t bother reverting. The T61 (bought by him as used/refurbished some years earlier IIRC) was still running just fine as of last week.

      In contrast, my mother’s been through several consumer-grade laptops during this time…

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2042736

      Insert the install media into the running Win7, access the media, and run setup.exe on the install media.

      PKCano, is there a reason you’re recommending this instead of booting from the Win10 install media?

      FWIW, I wouldn’t think a clone or image/restore is necessary. I would approach this project by simply swapping the disks, booting from the Win10 install media, and feeding it the Win7 product key from the Win7 sticker when the installation routine calls for it. Afterward, the old disk can be mounted in the external dock and the old data documents copied to the new disk.

      Further, I don’t see any purpose in carrying over the old factory recovery partition because (1) it’s a different operating system, and (2) chances are it won’t be functional anyway because the new partition layout will be different (due to the larger size of the new disk).

      RetiredGeek seems to be worried about preserving the Win7 drivers in case they’re needed by Win10. In my (admittedly, limited) experience with Win10, it seems to natively support a broader array of hardware devices than Win7 ever did, and few Win7 drivers seem to be compatible with Win10 anyway.

      Nevertheless, RG has a good point. Though, a simpler method would be to just backup any non-Microsoft drivers to a thumb drive before removing the Win7 disk. I’ve use Double Driver for this purpose, though I know others can recommend similar programs that work just as well. After Win10 is installed, if Device Manager shows any yellow question marks, launch “Update driver” and point it at the thumb drive to see if Win10 can find a suitable driver among the driver backups. If it can’t, then it’s doubtful it would have fared any better with an upgrade over the top of an existing Win7 installation.

      Or am I missing some other reason an image/restore is desirable?


      • #2052975

        PKCano is trying to avoid doing a fresh install, which the OP asked for. It’s not just drivers you lose–you also lose all your programs and settings.

        I reinstalled Windows from scratch about two years ago, and even now I wouldn’t ever want to do it again. It’s just such a pain. I know it’s less likely to have problems, but I’d rather at least try before having to go through that annoyance.

        If upgrading to an SSD that was significantly smaller than my previous Windows partition wasn’t required, I likely wouldn’t have started fresh then, either. I couldn’t even use the same Chrome profile–I had use Sync and lose all my extension settings and Userscripts.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2044927

      Before moving forward, make sure that your Lenovo Thinkpad T61 will support a SSD!

      Also, you can use the Lenovo ThingVantage to update you machine if you have not done it already.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2044953

      One more thing – if you use the Windows 10 update by going to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10/  leave you PC connected to the internet while the update progresses.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2053302

      Another thought regarding the installation of a SSD – as Ask Woody often says – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.


    • #2053941

      Another thought regarding the installation of a SSD – as Ask Woody often says – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.


      Not true for replacing HDD with SSD (specially a NVMe) which can breath new life in any PC.

    • #2084299

      I recently installed Windows 10 x64 over Windows 7 Pro x64 on a Dell Precision M65. The only issue was the installation complained about the video card would not work. I bypassed the warning and installed anyway. The installation installed a generic driver for the video card (Nvidia Quadro FX150M) which worked and is stable but very slow with poor quality graphics and improper aspect ratio. The laptop is still useful anyway. I tried forcing a Windows 8 x64 Nvidia driver from Dell (the last one they provided for the FX150M) by using device manager and updating the driver. This worked and the laptop regained its speed and screen graphics quality returned to high quality. However, after about 20 minutes, the screen went blank. I fiddled with the problem for several hours without success and returned to the Microsoft driver. Since the Dell (Nvidia) driver is very close to working, it seems to me that Nvidia might spend 15 minutes to tweak the driver so it will support the Quadro FX150M. The Dell Precision M65 is very old and I have many other laptops, but its life is worth extending since it is a trusty laptop. I installed Windows 10 because I need the security that Windows 7 will lose.

      • #2084529

        If you can’t get the video driver to work it may be better to stick with W7.
        You could try downloading a Linux ISO and booting off it to test the video.

        cheers, Paul

    • #2086365

      Well, I thought I should report my progress, in case this detailed info is helpful to anyone else.

      Also I still have a challenge (near the end)…

      The Thinkpad T61, although it was built in 2007 does indeed support an SSD.

      1. I used my paid version of AOMEI Backupper to make a bootable Windows PE environment on a USB thumb drive, and booted to that drive on the T61.
      2. Made an image of the old HDD on to an external Seagate portable drive.
      3. Used a CD to flash a “Middleton” BIOS 2.29-1.08.  This is probably unique to certain Thinkpad models, but that BIOS supports SATA-II which is much faster than the original SATA-I.
      4. Went to a different PC, booted it to the Win PE USB drive, and used that Backupper program  to restore the HDD image on to the new SSD which was inserted into an external hard drive dock.  This took some time because all connections were via USB 2, but it seemed to work OK.
      5. Removed the old HDD from the T61, set it aside and replaced it with the new SSD.
      6. It booted right up – still into Win 7, and noticeably faster!
      7. I turned off the WiFi card (T61 has a physical switch).
      8. I inserted the USB containing Win 10, which had been prepared from Microsoft’s Win 10 download site last week.  I think that USB stick is bootable, but I simply navigated to the setup.exe on the thumb drive, and picked Run as Administrator.
      9. As expected, the machine ran and eventually decided to reboot.  I had changed the boot order to flash the BIOS and forgot to change it back, so I was nervous that it would boot from the USB stick instead of C: and cause a problem, but to my surprise there was a message to remove the USB stick and continue.
      10. There were some messages about removing Microsoft Security Essentials, of course I said OK.
      11. I never saw anything about creating a Local Account, perhaps that did not happen.
      12. Eventually, the laptop screen showed a Win 10 background, and asked for my old user password.
      13. I made some changes in Windows Update Settings to defer updates, turned off Cortana and a couple of other things.
      14. Reboots OK, and I have not yet connected to WiFi.

      Problem 1:  I usually utilize an external Dell monitor with this machine.  I figured that Win 10 would see the monitor and install a generic driver.  Instead, the monitor is not detected and only the laptop screen shows anything.

      I would appreciate any advice about this, because my workflow really requires use of both the laptop screen and the external monitor.

      Problem 2:  The old HDD was 320 GB in size, and the new SSD is 500 GB.  When AOMEI did the image restore, it kept the old partitions at the old size.  So now I have C, D, E at 100 GB each, plus about 160 GB of unallocated space.   I looked at the free partition software from AOMEI and from MiniTOOL;  unless I am missing something I will have to buy a paid version of one of them to reallocate the free space.

      Well, that is a lot of detail.  Thank you for your patience and any suggestions.

      • #2087333

        For problem 1 …
        I suggest installing the latest Windows 7 driver for your specific T61 video device which can be obtained from Lenovo legacy support here.

        Drivers provided by Windows are usually generic in nature & don’t always incorporate all of the features that the system OEM driver provides.

        For problem 2 …
        You could use the Windows “DiskPart” tool (contained within Windows) to “extend” your last partition from 100GB to 200GB. As mentioned below, it’s generally recommended to leave from 7% – 12% spare unused space of the SSD’s total capacity by most SSD manufactures for “over provisioning” purposes to help preserve overall SSD performance & longevity over its expected lifetime.

        When using DiskPart, the # of bytes to extend (or shrink) is expressed in MB. So, to convert to MB, you use the following formula: (# of GB / 4) x 4096 = MB. Therefore, 100GB / 4 x 4096 = 100GB x 1024 = 102400 MB.

        A description of DiskPart can be found here and another good resource for using DiskPart, it’s commands & syntax can be found here.

        In essence, you invoke DiskPart under the administrative “Command Prompt” after which you would use the following commands at the DiskPart prompt: (do not enter the {} brackets)

        list disk
        select disk {#} …….. (disk # you want to set in focus)
        list partition ……… (can use just “part” instead of “partition”)
        select part {last partition #} … (can extend the last partition only)
        list part ………….. (confirm last partition is in focus by “*”)
        extend size=102400 …… (extends partition by 100GB)
        detail disk ………… (confirm partition is now 200GB)
        exit ………………. (exits DiskPart)
        exit ………………. (exits Command Prompt)

        As you’re an Aomei software user, you should also find this web page beneficial.

        Win7 - PRO & Ultimate, x64 & x86
        Win8.1 - PRO, x64 & x86
        Groups A, B & ABS

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        • #2087369

          When using DiskPart, the # of bytes to extend (or shrink) is expressed in MB. So, to convert to MB, you use the following formula: (# of GB / 4) x 1024 = MB. Therefore, 100GB / 4 x 1024 = 25600 MB.

          Why divided by four?

          Windows 11 Pro version 22H2 build 22621.2361 + Microsoft 365 + Edge

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          • #2087388

            Ooooops, a BIG mistake on my part …

            Calculation should read (# of GB) * 1024 = MB or (# of GB / 4) * 4096 = MB which is the exact same thing. I seriously messed up and mistakenly used the 1st half of one equation and the 2nd half of the other.

            100GB / 4 * 4096 = 100GB * 1024 = 102400.

            The reason you multiply by 1024 or divide by 4 then multiply by 4096 is because disk size is usually spec’ed as 1KB = 1000 Bytes but Windows uses 1KB = 1024 Bytes.

            I’ve seen both of these calculations used before and I suspect that the /4 then *4096 calculation came about due to the popular physical memory page size of 4K (4096) of most SSDs.

            Thank you for the question – the 25600 # did look odd but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

            Win7 - PRO & Ultimate, x64 & x86
            Win8.1 - PRO, x64 & x86
            Groups A, B & ABS

            1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2087402

        @alphacharlie … Ooooops, I made a BIG mistake in my previous reply … please see my reply to @b above.

        So, to convert to MB, you use the following formula: (# of GB / 4) x 1024 = MB. Therefore, 100GB / 4 x 1024 = 25600 MB.

        should read:
        So, to convert to MB, you use the following formula: # of GB x 1024 = MB. Therefore, 100GB x 1024 = 102400 MB.

        and …

        extend size=25600 …… (extends partition by 100GB)

        should read: extend size=102400 …… (extends partition by 100GB)

        Sincerely sorry for the error & I hope it didn’t cause you or anyone else any problems.

        Win7 - PRO & Ultimate, x64 & x86
        Win8.1 - PRO, x64 & x86
        Groups A, B & ABS

        • #2087471

          So, to convert to MB, you use the following formula: # of GB x 1024 = MB. Therefore, 100GB x 1024 = 102400 MB.

          And to make it more confusing, storage media (hard drives, SSDs) use 1000 for “k” (base 10; 10^3) rather than 1024 (base 2; 2^10).  That’s more accurate, as kilo has always meant a thousand of something (like a kilogram).  Hard drives are sold by the base 10 (decimal) definitions of kilo, mega, giga, tera, but the OS installed on the drive will usually report capacity in the binary-base numbering system.  It’s not as clear as it should be, and the terms should not have ambiguous definitions.

          As such, the alternate terms kibibyte, mebibyte, etc., were created to be used for base 2 approximations of a thousand, a million, and so on.  “Kibi” is derived from “kilo” and “binary.”  The abbreviations simply add an ‘i’ to the old ones; for example, 64 KiB, 5 GiB, 2 TiB.

          Linux has largely adopted the new nomenclature, and now when I load the GNOME disk utility, when it says a partition is 142 GB, it means 142,000,000,000 bytes.

          If I look at the same partition in KDE Partition Manager, it reports its size as 132 GiB, using the binary nomenclature.  If you do the math, 1024^3 is 1,073,741,824 bytes, which if multiplied by 132, results in 141,733,920,768 bytes, or 142 billion bytes, if you round to the nearest billion.

          OSX/MacOS also adopted the new definitions more than ten years ago.

          Windows, the last I checked, still uses the binary (units of 1024) numbering, but refers to it as kilobytes, gigabytes, terabytes, and so on.  Ambiguity is bad, guys!

          Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
          XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
          Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

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    • #2086386

      I have used Easeus Partition Master free to move around and resize partitions to use the free space in a case like this, if you are not a business user.  It cannot handle dynamic partitions or ones that have been spliced.  I think Minitool Partition Wizard free also worked fine for this, and most Linux live disks can also do it with Gparted although that may be a little less familiar to some.  Also, see what your SSD manufacturer recommends, but some function better if you leave a certain amount of unallocated unpartitioned empty area at the end.  Usually about 10%.

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    • #2086506


      Agree with anonymous; no need to buy paid editions of these programs. The free editions will do what you want.


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    • #2088327

      I am reporting incremental progress, specifically with regard to the external monitor issue.  The system worked fine AFTER the new BIOS, with Win 7 on the new SSD.  After that SSD was converted to Win 10, the external monitor was not recognized.

      Eventually, I went into the BIOS, and found a setting under Config, then Display, which revealed:

      Default Primary Video Device [Internal]
      Boot Display Device   had a menu with several choices …   I selected [VGA+LCD] and rebooted.

      Then the external VGA came to life.  Soon enough, I noticed that it was not behaving the same way it had previously – the resolution was off and it was in landscape instead of portrait orientation.

      Eventually, I found my way to the device matrix and saw that the entry for Display Adapter was a generic Win 10 driver. Taking a chance, I clicked on Update Driver and let it search my C: drive.

      Amazingly, it found the old driver:

      Mobile Intel 965 Express Chipset Family
      Driver Date  9/23/009
      Driver version

      And now the external Dell monitor is back in portrait mode with 1920 x 1200 resolution.

      So, there are no error messages from Win 10 at this time, but the system seems quite slow, and Firefox seems to be especially slow to load.  So there may be additional work with regard to drivers, etc.

      {Perhaps after this project I should get a vintage automobile!}

    • #2088338

      After a new install, Defender gets definitions and does a scan.  If you are allowing automatic updates, leave your computer on and idle for a few nights, and do a few restarts.  Restart always applies updates, shutdown often will not.  When it is done with those it may be faster.   https://thinkpads.com/t61/ says a T61 can support 8gb as two 4gb modules, a ram upgrade is often helpful.

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    • #2088664

      With all the great advice here, I think I am about ready to declare victory and say that the old Thinkpad has a new lease on life. And I learned a lot.
      I “refreshed” Firefox and figured out how to use AOMEI Partition Assistant to enlarge my drives with extra space from the new SSD.
      Thank you!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by AlphaCharlie.
    • #2124742

      Here is an update to my January 13th post: Back on January 13 I commented here on my experience regarding adding life to my trusty Dell Precision M65 laptop. It originally had Win XPx64 when purchased. I upgraded to Win 7×64 with no issues. So finally I decided to go for Win 10×64 when MS announced Win 7 EOL. Having been in network security before I retired, I am paranoid about security issues. As I said then, I ran into the inevitable issue of Win 10 being incompatible with the Nvidia Quadro FX 350m video card/driver that was fine under Win 7. I bypassed the warning and installed Win 10×64 anyway and got the MS generic video driver. This worked, but the video was extremely poor and slow and didn’t accommodate the screen aspect ratio and resolution. There are no Win 10 drivers for this card available from Nvidia (or Dell). Frustrated with this, I tried modding various available Win 10 Quadro drivers from Nvidia to see if I could work around the issue. I got all of them to install but none were accepted by Win 10 and so even though Device Manager showed the driver correctly as an FX 350M driver (instead of generic), Windows was still using the generic driver because the Nvidia one was reporting an error. So I continued to search for a solution: I discovered that in 2009 (4 years past the last available driver from Nvidia) Microsoft released an updated x32 and x64 Win7 -Win 8.1 driver for the Quadro FX 350m card.  I installed it (without any protest from the installer or Windows 10). Well, miracles of miracles this driver is fully compatible with Win 10×64 and provides all the expected speed and features (except for 3D). The drivers I am referring to can be obtained here: http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/Search.aspx?q=fx%20350m if anyone is interested in keeping this old laptop going under Windows 10 (v1909). The second row is the x64 version. While I generally don’t trust drivers from MS, I’ll have to give them credit for this one: It actually works. Wow! Why MS didn’t provide this driver during the Win 10×64 upgrade is a mystery to me. It has been a week now and the system is stable. The only issue I have run into is Malwarebytes v4.04 introduced a UI hardware accelerator feature that is not compatible. In their latest update they have provided a display tab where this feature can be turned off, To get there, though, you have to start Windows in safe mode so you can get to the setup screen to see the tab and option. With the accelerator option turned off, everything is fine. I have complained to Malwarebytes about this and they have acknowledged the issue. There appears to be many other people having issues with the accelerator feature involving other video cards.

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    Reply To: Life extension for trusty laptop

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