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What do you need to know to install an internal hard drive?

Hard Drives
Coming soon...

Drive Rails and Caddys for the ThinkPad W700's internal drive bays

Users commonly want to install their own second hard drive in the W700, often to save money compared to what Lenovo charges, or to install a drive not offered by Lenovo. Here's what you need to do.

The W700 has two hard drive bays. If the laptop is open and facing you, the hard drive bays are located behind a panel along the left edge of the laptop. The panel wraps from the side of that edge and then down and around to the bottom of the laptop, where it's held in place by a single screw. The system hard drive occupies the rear-most bay, and the secondary drive occupies the front-most bay.

You can buy a 2.5" notebook hard drive from the vendor of your choice, and install it in the secondary bay. But first you have to install the drive inside a "caddy," then attach rubber drive rails to the side of that drive/caddy combination, before sliding the resulting assembly into the bay. I've read of users who've tried to just install the rails without the caddy, but in many cases they've then had difficulty getting the drive to operate properly (the rails fit rather loosely around the drive without the caddy, resulting in a sloppy fit, allowing the drive to wiggle around a bit within the bay). Note that the rubber rails provide some shock protection for the drive.

The question then arises of where to buy the rubber drive rails and the caddy. There is apparently currently no way to buy the proper caddy from Lenovo or IBM without buying it already attached to a hard drive. (As best as I have been able to determine, Lenovo/IBM distributes a parts kit, FRU # 42W2421, which may previously have contained a caddy but no longer contains a caddy.) There seems to be much confusion over caddies in general at Lenovo/IBM. Below, when I refer to the "OEM caddy," I'm referring to the one from Lenovo/IBM.

Here are several vendors:

Option #1: Millionpart
I've heard from one reliable source that the rails and caddy from the following vendor may be identical to the OEM caddy, although the screws may be of a slightly different length (which did not present any problems for that user -- in any case, always be sure that the screws are tight enough to be secure, but do not overtighten them). Millionpart is based in Hong Kong, and my understanding is that only one shipping option is available, which takes about a week:

IBM Thinkpad Hard Drive Caddy Rubber Rail T60 T60p T61p
(note that the Thinkpad T60, T60p, and T61p use the same rails/caddy as the W700)

The above link may change from time to time. So if that link fails to work, go to the main page of Millionpart's store and look for the T60 rails/caddy in the parts catalog beginning on that page.

Option #2:
I know that the rubber of the following rails has a slightly different consistency/springiness than the OEM rails, and I can not attest to whether they will hold up as well as the OEM rails. Rubber does tend to age and change its characteristics over time (i.e., become hard and cracked). The below caddy may consist of slightly less sheet metal than the OEM model, and may have a different color pull-tag (you pull on this tag if you later want to remove the drive from the bay). I've used this caddy before with no problems, although I used OEM rubber rails with the caddy. This company is based in Santa Ana, California:

Hard drive caddy Thinkpad Lenovo T400, T500, R400, W500
(note that the Thinkpad T400, T500, R400, and W500 use the same rails/caddy as the W700)

Option #3: IBM's Mechanicsburg, Pensylvania, Parts Center
As I said above, apparently there is currently no way to buy the caddy from Lenovo or IBM without buying an entire hard drive. However, you can buy the OEM rubber rails from the IBM Parts Center.

Call IBM's Mechanicsburg, PA Parts Center, at 800-388-7080. My impression is that this is the number that service technicians call to order ThinkPad parts. They take phone orders 24 hours a day, although their recorded phone message says there's a $399 service charge for orders placed after 10 p.m., and before 8 a.m. EST on Monday thru Friday, or that are placed anytime on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays! So don't call at those times. Parts I've orderd via this center shipped out of Carlisle, PA, although the phone operator told me they may ship from other locations depending on where the parts are in stock. You can also order over the web, although it's more complicated in that you have to set up an account, etc. Here's a web page at which you can search their parts database:

Determining whether to use a marketing part number or a field replacement unit (FRU) part number when ordering parts

To order the rails, ask for one set of IBM LENOVO THINKPAD LAPTOP NOTEBOOK HD RAILS (rubber rails), FRU # 41V9756. I've ordered these before from them for $38 plus shipping, although the price may change over time. I ordered via 2-day shipping at 10 a.m. EST, and the woman who took my order said I should recieve the order either the next day or the day after that. I actually received them at about 10 a.m. PDT the day after I ordered them.

Option #4: Advanced Computer Services, Inc.
I also ran across the following site, which appears to sell original Lenovo/IBM parts, as well as parts for Compaq, Dell and HP. They're called Advanced Computer Services, Inc., or ACS, they're located in Ohio, and here is their page for the drive rails:

ThinkPad 41V9756 IBM LENOVO THINKPAD LAPTOP NOTEBOOK HD RAILS - from Advanced Computer Services, Inc.

They seem to operate via more than one domain name, and the two I saw were, and Their shipping was more expensive than IBM's Parts Center, but their price for the rails was much cheaper, although ACS is more expensive for some other parts. Go figure. I didn't order from them, so I can't vouch for them as a vendor.

I've read reports of people who want to swap drives in and out of the W700's two hard drive bays on a daily basis. The problem with this is that the drive connectors in those bays were not designed to be engaged and disengaged so frequently. So you are quite likely to wear them out this way, long before the normal lifespan of the laptop. If you need to swap drives on a regular basis, you're much better off doing so by using external drives. Or you may wish to use drives connected to the laptop via a wireless network.

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