Upgrading the Hard Disk in the IBM ThinkPad 600

  ThinkPad 600

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NOTE: This information was compiled by the author and is provided as a public service. The author is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for any consequential problems that might result. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

The IBM ThinkPad 600 is a terrific machine at a fair price, except for the cost of IBM Upgrades -- the 6.4 GB hard disk upgrade (Model 02K0518) goes for a ridiculous $729 IBM Price (as of this writing).
You can beat the system by buying an IBM Travelstar 6GT DADA-26480 (6.4 GB) for about $200 (as of this writing) -- see CNET Shopper.com, Price Watch and Computer Discount Warehouse. However, be warned that this drive has now been discontinued.   Travelstar 6GT

Be warned that this OEM drive will probably come with no documentation, and that there will be no end user IBM warranty (end user IBM warranties only come with retail packaging) -- you'll have to depend on your reseller for a warranty, so choose one with care.

Your existing drive may be only 9.5 mm think, whereas the Travelstar 6GT is 12.5 mm thick, but not to worry, the ThinkPad 600 can accept either thickness. (The 12.5 mm drive will be about 1-1/2 oz heavier than the 9.5 mm drive.)

Installation is fairly simple if you are reasonably handy (but be warned that you assume all risk -- this author does not provide free support):

Underside of ThinkPad 600   (Click Reload on your browser to restart the animation)
  1. Just to be safe, this author recommends flashing the latest ThinkPad 600 BIOS (Version 1.10, IBET41WW, 05-12-99, as of this writing) before upgrading.
  2. If necessary, decide now how to transfer your data. I recommend Symantec's Norton Ghost and a parallel connection to SparQ/SyJet/Jaz/Orb drive or to another computer. (A network connection is faster, but you'll have to get network drivers working in DOS mode.) You can download a free, fully-functional 30-day "eval" copy of GHOST.
  3. Think now about what you will do with the old drive. If you will be selling it, plan to erase it (just deleting files is not enough) after you have verified that your data has been transferred successfully. (You can freely download Wipe, a disk erasing utility, from IBM.)
  4. Disconnect AC power and remove the battery. Turn the machine upside down. (See picture above)
  5. Remove the drive retaining screw (near the front of the case) with a coin, and then gently pry off the nearby drive cover. Grab the plastic tab, and carefully slide the old drive out of the front of the machine.
  6. Remove the 4 side screws holding the perforated mounting bracket to the old drive, and then gently pry off the bracket. (It's held in place with mild sticky tape.)
  7. Attach the perforated mounting bracket to the new drive with the 4 screws. Be sure to orient it the same way it was oriented on the old drive.
  8. Gently slide the new drive into the drive bay, making sure that you don't have it upside down. Press the drive in to seat the connector firmly.
  9. Tuck in the plastic tab; replace the drive cover; and reinstall the drive retaining screw.
  10. Reinstall the battery and connect AC power. The BIOS should recognize the new drive automatically when you power the machine up.
  11. This author recommends running BIOS diagnostics on the new disk before using it. To access the BIOS diagnostics, hold down the F1 key while turning on the machine.
The author tested this successfully on a ThinkPad 600 Model 2645-35U and Model 2645-A1U.

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