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I fixed my previously bricked Lenovo Thinkpad T61! Here’s how I did it with all of my old software.

  • Buy a new SATA drive
  • Install it according to Lenovo’s instructions.
  • Restart, go into the BIOS and change the drive mode to IDE or compatibility mode.
  • Insert a full-up Windows CD (not an upgrade CD) in the optical drive and restart
  • Install Windows XP. (Yes, I know I should have upgraded to 7, but that costs money.)  When you are done you will have the computer back up, but it won’t see the ethernet adapter since the drivers won’t be there.
  • Go to a different computer with internet connection and download the right Lenovo ethernet driver. Save it to a USB drive.
  • Stick the USB drive into the computer that is being rebuilt and install the ethernet adapter driver.
  • Reboot.
  • Plug in the computer – now it should get on line with the ethernet connection. Immediately download and install Chrome and Firefox so you aren’t stuck with having to use IE.
  • Now download and install the Thinkvantage System Update package from Lenovo.
  • Reboot. Now most (but not all) drivers would be installed (everything except what counts: the Wi-Fi drivers.)
  • Download and install the Wi-Fi drivers from the Lenovo site.
  • Reboot again and set up your wireless network. Voila! you are on line.
  • Now install your antivirus software, and reboot again.
  • You are now ready to spend the next 8h reinstalling everything that used to be on this computer.

A big thank you to all my awesome coworkers – especially Paul C., Paul F. and Meher – who flocked to my rescue when I asked for help. You all rock!

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