Browsing articles in "Laptop Repairs"
Oct 29, 2012

Recovery of Toshiba Laptop using .SWM files

Machine: Toshiba Satellite L450D-11V

Problem: Faulty hard drive, new drive to be installed. Customer has no recovery discs and Windows COA label with product key is worn out so would like to find a way to reinstall Windows 7 without buying a new license.


The recovery partition contained eight ‘.swm’ files which we managed to save to a USB hard drive.

The files were:


Booted up with Windows 7 DVD disc, chose Repair and Command Prompt.

At this point, USB drive was D: and blank hard drive was C:

The executable file ‘ImageX’ (the tool for working with .wim and .swm files) was also on the USB drive. If you don’t have ImageX, Google it – it’s available for download.

Changed command prompt from C: to D:

Ran the following command to merge all .swm files into a single ‘.wim’ file:

imagex /ref 10739XSP*.swm /export 10739XSP.swm 2 boot.wim

This created a 6.5GB .WIM file which was the whole Windows 7 preinstalled partition.

Then ran the following command:

imagex /apply boot.wim 1 C:\

This applied the image to the partition C:\

At this point it would not boot so we ran StartUp Repair from the Windows 7 DVD

Then we ran the command:

bootrec.exe /fixmbr

At this point Windows 7 started and began setting up all the other preinstalled software that Toshiba includes.

Several reboots later and all is running perfectly!

The following is from a comment below this post from Frank K. It is very detailed and shows how he was able to use a similar method to restore his Asus laptop:

“I had the same problem and your solution worked for me.
Another solution was to copy the recovery-partition to the new disk and let it do the restore, but the partition copied with Acronis did not boot. Therefore, I was happy to see your solution how to restore a system with swm-files and without booting from a disk with the recovery partition.

For an ASUS notebook I had to made some minor changes, I changed
imagex /ref 10739XSP*.swm /export 10739XSP.swm 2 boot.wim
imagex /ref asus*.swm /export asus.swm 1 boot.wim

Asus-Files are named asus[1-3] and contain only one image (C:)

Your command
imagex /apply boot.wim 1 C:\
then worked fine for me, too.

What I did in detail:
1. I took a new HD (500GB), connected it to a working Win7-PC via USB, created two “classic” partitions (MBR, not GPT), C: 400 GB, D: 100 GB.
2. I copied the contents of the Recovery-Partition (all swm-files and Imagex.Exe) from the original HD (I was lucky so far, the C:-Partition showed drive errors already) to D:-partition on the new disk.
3. I created the boot.wim – file, see command line above.
4. Then I installed the new HD in the Notebook and booted with a Win7x32-DVD.(It has to be x32, Imagex did not work for me with x64.) Select Repair Options and Command Prompt. (The Selection “Restore from a Win-Image doesn’t work, it can´t find the boot.wim)
5. Select drive D: at the prompt and start the image restore with ImageX’ apply-option (see command line above).
This takes some time.
6. When finished, I entered
bootrec.exe /fixmbr
but this did not work for me, the computer didn’t boot.
I started with the Win7x32-DVD again, go to repair options and select the item “Fix startup problems” (I do only have a german DVD, so I don’t know the original english name for this function, but there is one selection that fixes startup problems.).
This did correctly activate the partition and the MBR-Information. It shows a log when the mbr is fixed.
I rebooted the machine and it started perfectly, initiating the standard Windows welcome at first start.
Now I’m installing updates etc.
At a later time I deleted the now no longer needed D-Partition and extended the C-Partition to use the whole disk via Disk Management in Administration.
Normally, I have a C-Partition for the OS and D: for Programs/Data, but most of the users mess these things up, so for those who don´t care I create a C-Partition only.

I looked at many descriptions on the internet, complicated, not working, frustrating – your fix is the only one that worked for me, THANKS!

Sorry for my poor English, but I hope many other people can benefit of your solution with these extra hints.”


We fix laptops everyday at our laptop repair shop in Kent. Hopefully this site has helped you!

Jul 11, 2012

Removing NetIntelligence from Home Access Laptops

Home Access from Becta Grant

Home Access Grant

After replacing the hard drives in their Home Access laptops, a number of people have contacted us (probably because of our popular Acer Extensa 5235 post) about an issue with the parental control software that is installed on these machines.

From what we gather, some of (perhaps all) the Home Access machines were bundled with NetIntelligence parental control software.

Here is an excerpt from an enquiry we received: Continue reading »

Mar 5, 2012

OS X Leopard – Losing WiFi Settings

OS X Leopard

OS X Leopard

We just had a PowerPC G4 Macbook Pro in with Leopard running on it. A bit long in the tooth (especially with 512MB RAM) but working fine nonetheless. Well fine except the WiFi settings seemed to be getting lost each time the machine slept or was rebooted. You’d have to click on the list of available wireless networks to connect to the access point and re-enter the WPA Key every single time.

After much poking about and updating everything we could, we decided to tackle another issue – DVD Player was launching every time the user logged in so we wanted to remove it from Login Items. Off we went to System Preferences > Accounts > “Your Account” > Login Items and deleted DVD Player from the list. We left iTunes Helper and MobileConnect in the list.

This simple act of removing DVD Player from the Login or Startup Items FIXED THE WIFI PROBLEM! Go figure.

Oct 9, 2011

Laptop Disassembly Tips

Precision Screwdriver Set

Here are a few tips that may help you strip down and reassemble laptops:

  • Use a digital camera or camera phone to take a shot of each stage of the disassembly for reference when you are ready to reassemble it. Zoom in and take separate shots for areas where you have various plugs and connectors or wires running in a specifc way so you know exactly how they were before you took them apart. (unless you have a really good memory!)
  • Use scrap sheets of A4 paper to map out screw positions. Sketch a point (or points) of reference like a battery compartment or RAM module cover on the paper so you know what way up it goes and stick each screw to the paper with clear tape so when you’re finished taking all the screws out of the bottom of the laptop they will all be stuck in their corresponding positions on the piece of paper. Depending on the laptop I may have 2 or 3 sheets of paper with screws on – bottom of unit, under the keyboard and motherboard screws. Doing this will be a great help if you have to leave the laptop disassembled for some time (e.g. to order parts etc) as you will have no doubt as to which screws go where. Some makes and models will use the same length screws for most of the base assembly but others have all different lengths which makes it all the more important to remember where they go back. A ‘too-long’ screw in the wrong place could cause major damage! Continue reading »
Oct 3, 2011

Parent Password for Home Access Laptop

Home Access from Becta Grant

Home Access Grant

At our Kent laptop repair shop, we recently did a complete system recovery on an Acer Extensa 5235 that had a dead hard drive.

This was one of the ‘Home Acess’ computers provided by Becta the now closed government funded grant scheme to help low-income families own a computer.

The client had neglected to make her recovery DVDs whiled the system was up and running.
Usually if we don’t have the recovery DVDs or CDs we can install an OEM version of Windows using the product key on the Windows sticker attached to the laptop, resulting in a nice clean Windows install without all the crap that the manufacturers install alongside Windows. However, the Home Access laptop in our care didn’t have a product key on the sticker.

The license sticker reads: “Windows 7 Pro Natl. Academic Only OA” with a few tracking numbers and bar codes on it. Not very useful for installing Windows!

Luckily we had created a set of 3 recovery DVDs on an identical model that had come in months ago – just in case!

So Windows installed – no problem there, but… When it was time to log into Windows, we were presented with two preconfigured user accounts – Learner and Parent. Learner had no password and was a ‘Limited Account’ which basically means we couldn’t install anything or even update Windows using that account. Parent was a password protected administrator account but we had no password since the client had misplaced the original documentation provided by Comet. Continue reading »

Sep 21, 2011

Stupid Laptop Designs

Laptop Repairs

Laptop Repairs

Updated November 20th 2011

Some laptops are designed to be relatively easy to open and repair but others are the absolute pits.

Because we do see a lot of different brands and models it’s not easy to remember which are the ones that are going to need some extra time and expertise to disassemble and repair.

We thought the best thing is to make a note of them here where we can refer to them later and also possibly help other people who are looking for confirmation for: “Yes, you really do need to disassemble the WHOLE laptop to get to the bit you want” sort of thing.

Here I’m going to start on a list of laptops and netbooks that need to be put in the ‘Ridiculously difficult to open and repair for no good reason’ category.
We shall be adding to the list as we come across more stupidly designed models. Continue reading »


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