Lenovo G550: Transplant & Resurrection!


My home laptop, a Lenovo G550, has been through a lot during the last years, mostly due to my young kids trying to explore its limits in terms of durability. Despite the fact that the screen has some increasing lines and there are some keyboard keys missing, it is still working; but not as good as I would like it to. It seems that after it was dropped down the table several times, the hard disk became increasingly slower.

Its original Windows 7 installation was updated to Windows 8 Pro, and I had the feeling that this made things even worse. I suspected that its Intel Celeron T3100 (@1.90GHz) CPU could not cope up with limited multitasking or that its 2GB or RAM were not enough for basic home tasks (web browsing and document editing). In general it was significantly lagging, while it even completely froze at some points. Even simple tasks took a long time to complete and booting times became a joke in the end! I had to see what was wrong with that machine, as I did not plan to upgrade. Deep inside I knew that these specs were decent for basic home use and that the problem must be in another component…

Windows Task Manager provided the key to this mystery; while CPU and RAM usage were usually less than 50%, Hard Disk usage was stuck at 100% all the time – and this was a bad sign…so I decided to swap the existing 250GB disk with an old one 120GB I had from my long-dead HP tx-1110us…I just had to find a case for this internal disk, back up its contents (at least whatever I still found useful after 4 years) and then format it.

I thought that just by swapping the hard disk, reusing my valid (and purchased) Windows 8 Pro license would not be an issue…but I was wrong: as soon as I finished installing Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 update (several hours later, including numerous reboots), I tried to activate my license but I was informed that this was not possible, as my Windows 8 Pro license was an upgrade one and not suitable for full install! This meant that I either had to reformat my disk, install Windows 7 and then upgrade to Windows 8 or I would have to find a workaround; I was already frustrated by the long installation time of Windows 8, so I went for the latter.

The performance improvement was really striking! An old hard disk managed to make a difference, as booting time was minimized and general responsiveness was significantly improved. Due to the lower capacity, I had to skip copying some of my files (which were backed up to an external hard disk, but apart from that, everything was fine.

Next steps: I have to back up my old hard disk, getting rid of obsolete stuff (which will be really time consuming) and then format it, hoping that I will be able to restore it to a better state. I realized that using an 120GB disk is limiting, even for home use (where photos and videos are constantly backed up. so I would give my re-formatted 250GB disk another try in the near future.

Big thanks to Theo for sharing his external hard disk case with me; without it, nothing would have been possible!

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