November 29, 2011

295 words 2 mins read

Do not install Windows 7 via USB 3

Recently, I was trying to install an Intel 320 SSD into my Lenovo X220 laptop. Since the X220 uses the a 7mm tall 2.5” HD bay, this is annoying. Once I got the SSD drive trimmed down a few millimeters and installed, I had to re-install Windows 7 and this is where things went screwy.

I had the new SSD in and my handy dandy USB thumb drive with the Windows 7 install. As soon as I started up the Windows 7 install, it complained about needing drivers to to continue — problematic. I presumed the issue was with my new SSD so I started looking high and low for drivers and information. A number of posts suggest changing the BIOS from “AHCI” to “Legacy”, which didn’t help. I downloaded about a half dozen different drivers from Intel without any luck.

It was at that point in time that I noticed something crucial, in the browse for drivers… my SSD was actually showing up as a valid source drive (I had already formatted it). So… if the SSD was showing up, maybe it wasn’t the problem? A little more research and I found a post describing similar install problems.

What was the real issue? I was plugging my handy dandy USB drive… into the USB 3.0 port (The Lenovo X220 has 3 USB ports: Blue = USB 3.0, Black = Normal. Yellow = Always on power) and Windows 7 doesn’t have drivers built-in for that. So even though the X220 can boot off the USB 3 port, and the Windows setup can launch… Windows setup cannot actually read from the drive. Swapped the USB drive to a new port and away I went.

Easy… just took me 4 hours of tinkering to figure out… sigh.