Lenovo X1 Carbon: Some thoughts about an old friend

In the earliest days of January 2013 I ordered the first laptop that I’d bought with my own money in over a decade. It was a Lenovo X1 Carbon. I had been carrying an HP 8510P, which was a decent machine, but getting to be very old. Having carried both netbooks and back-breaking portable workstations, I craved an ultrabook, and the X1 Carbon stood out from the pack.

The X1C cost me dearly. At just over $1800, it was the second most expensive computer I’d ever bought, but I don’t regret it for a minute. The fact that I don’t despise it after 5 years proves that it’s been a spectacular laptop.

Except for the CPU, I opted for an i5 vs i7, it was completely optioned. Maximum memory (8 GB) and storage (256 GB.)

It was the first computer I had ordered with an SSD. It contains a 256 GB m.2 2280 SanDisk drive. It was at a transitional point in technology, so it’s an mSATA3 drive. It predates both mPCIe and NVMe.

None of this would be a concern, except that the X1 suffered a failed Windows update a few weeks back. It was rendered unbootable. Fortunately, I had a full system image that was only a couple weeks old. I was able to wipe the SSD, restore the backup image, and get back to business.

This leaves me wondering about the state of that five-year old SSD. SanDisk has a drive utility that reports that the device has 90% of it’s lifespan remaining.

SandDiskDrive Utility

I’m told that’s based upon the limited number of write cycles that flash media can sustain. Lenovo themselves pointed me to a page that projects the lifespan of an SSD into the hundreds of years. This seems optimistic to me. But then again, I had issues with the Crucial SSD in my old desktop.

Also, what about the future of the X1C itself. At this age, should I bother with replacing the SSD? Or just write of the laptop completely? Retiring the X1C hardly seems appropriate. Since I travel very little these days I don’t rely on it for much.

I tend to hang onto computer hardware. In April 2017 I bought the Airtop-PC, which moved my old HP H8 (AMD FX6100) desktop into a utility role. The even older HP DC5750 desktop that I used three-computers-back is currently running Logitech Media Server, serving music to our various Squeezeboxes (and equivalents.) Heck, it wasn’t so long ago that I finally disposed of the Asus Pundit (P1-H1, AMD Athlon XP) that was my primary desktop some four computers ago.

As I ponder the future of the X1C, I urge you to take the lesson from my recent experience. Make routine backups. Spacious portable hard drives are dirt cheap. Most recently I’ve been using the free version of Macrium’s Reflect for Windows. The process is easy. Restoring is also easy. It’s a good habit to have, and a good way to go about it.

LifeHacker: Top 10 Superior Tech Products You’ll Never Go Back From

LifeHacker is part of my Feedly stream, even though I often find myself at odds with many of their assertions or recommendations. However, a few weeks back they revisited a Top 10 list that I found myself liking a lot; Top 10 Superior Tech Products You’ll Never Go Back From. In fact, I am completely in agreement. It’s all good info, and largely unexpected.
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Desktop Storage: SSD vs Magnetic Hard Drive

HP Pavilion HPE H8 Desktop PC & Seagate DiskIt has been said that you have to sometimes look back to see how far you’ve come. A little over a week ago the traditional hard drive in my desktop computer started to fail. The BIOS reported a SMART alarm indicating imminent disk failure.

While this HP desktop was a good deal when it was purchased, the 1.5TB Seagate hard drive, spinning at just 5400 RPM, was part of what motivated the addition of the 256 GB SSD as the boot volume. The traditional hard drive was only for user data.

Despite the alarm state, the system seemed to be running fine. I ordered a 1 TB WD Black hard drive from Amazon. In making the choice of the WD Black I looked around online for research on hard drive reliability. I found a blog post by Backblaze, a company that provides online backup. They have consistently found Seagate drives to be the most failure prone. As a huge user of hard drives, it’s great that they make their data public.

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The Dead Disk Bounce: Does An SSD Get A Second Act?

My desktop PC is just now passing three years old. When it arrived I imaged the factory installed 2 TB hard drive, replacing it with a Crucial m4 256GB SSD for the boot volume. With a small registry tweak the 2 TB drive became home to the user profiles and related files.

The boot time of the computer was improved by the SSD. Since the boot volume was just the OS & apps it was quick & easy to backup by making an image of that volume. The fact that I make routine backups became important recently, when the SSD failed outright.

In this case I had just installed some updated to the OS, when a reboot was required. However, upon rebooting the system could not find the boot volume. 

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Eight Weeks Later: Living With The Lenovo X1 Carbon Ultrabook

thinkpad-x1-carbon-site-300pxWhile under a different title, this post is the third in a series called A Road Warrior Plans To Shed Some Weight. It describes my thoughts leading to the purchase of an Ultrabook.

It’s been about eight weeks since the Lenovo X1 Carbon arrived. During that time I’ve made three business trips. So I’ve accumulated some experience with the X1 Carbon (hereafter just X1C) both at home and on the road.

The day or two after I placed the order for the X1C I came down with a significant case of buyers remorse. I paid around $1700 for the device, which is without question a lot of money. I had thought that perhaps I was being unduly irresponsible, even for me.

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Learning About SSDs

HP-Pavilion-HPE-H8-Desktop-PC-300px.pngSolid state disks (SSD) are coming down in price and going up in capacity. The attractions are many; lower power consumption, low heat output, mechanically robust, decent write performance and dramatically faster read performance. There’s plainly a lot to like about SSDs.

Last winter I put a cheap 120 GB San Disk Ultra SSD into my aging netbook and gave it another year’s lease on life. Over the summer I saw a deal on some nicely spec’d HP Pavilion HPE desktops I bought a couple for myself and the Mrs. It seemed a sensible way to move us away from Windows XP.

This is a little story about the solid state disk residing in my desktop PC. The device in question is a 128 GB Crucial M4 model that I added to a new HP desktop purchased from Woot.com last summer. The tale is worth telling because the SSD seemed to fail after just a few months.

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