My own T430s laptop is only six months old, but its primary SSD has failed me twice already. We have at least one other laptop at pod that also had SSD problems. Enough reason to take a closer look.
The laptop had been in the dock in standby over the long weekend, but it was fully powered down when I took it out of the dock and left for work this morning. I did not have a good feeling when I turned it on in the office, and indeed, the boot process stopped with the dreaded Error 2100: HDD0 (Hard disk drive) initialization error. I removed the drive, swapped it with another SSD in the drive bay, used a USB dock, all to no avail. The Thinkpad would stubbornly refuse to properly initialize the drive and boot from it. So I called Lenovo support and reluctantly agreed to having a replacement drive shipped to me – reluctantly because the failing drive is already a replacement drive. Then I went out, purchased a new SSD, and spent the rest of the day installing Windows and apps.
The very same issue happened about 6 weeks ago. Back then I also called support, and all they could offer was a replacement SSD. But the last time it happened I was at home where I have a desktop computer with a USB dock, like this one:
The last time, I also went out and purchased a new SSD right away because I cannot have downtime. During attempts of reviving the old drive to create an image, I briefly plugged it into the USB drive dock on the desktop, and because it worked there right away, I put it back into the laptop. It was recognized again as if nothing had happened. Because I did not want to reimage the new SSD without a good reason, I kept the old (revived) one in the laptop until Lenovo started to bug me about sending it back (even though all their paperwork had said that I did not have to send it back, but that’s a separate story).
So I created a system image, put it on the replacement SSD, and sent the old one back. Hardly two weeks later – i.e. this morning – the new SSD did the same thing. This time I was in the office and did not have access to another computer with a drive dock. So I yet again called support, agreed to have a replacement disk shipped to me, and went out to buy a new SSD because I need a computer in the interim.
Later in the evening and back at home, I once again plugged the drive that had stubbornly refused to work all day into the disk dock on my PC, and I wanted to kick myself. It worked, and once revived by my computer, I was able to successfully boot the Thinkpad from it as well.
So what’s going on? I have a strong suspicion that this is related to a firmware issue with the Micron SSDs. Under certain conditions, the SSD will end up in a state that the Thinkpad cannot recover from, but other computers can. Once it has been re-initialized this way on a different computer, it will work again in the Thinkpad. What exactly causes the issue I do not know, but I have resolved it twice now with this approach.
Lenovo published a firmware update – apparently as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
The crux is that while the drive is in the “unrecognized” state, the Windows 8 firmware update utility also did not see it on my laptop. I was able to update the firmware on the desktop PC, though, once it was revived, using the Windows 7 version of the utility. Hopefully this was the last time I had to deal with this issue. I will send the replacement SSD back to IBM. Why their support is absolutely in the dark about this issue, how to fix it, and the firmware update, is difficult to comprehend.