Being legal is frustrating

Four years ago I bought a laptop on a student special with the local universities. Pinnacle were the local distributors and the laptop came pre-installed with Windows 7 and Office professional. Wonderful. But it didn’t come with installation DVDs. I queried this with Pinnacle and they said I should use the Lenovo software (OneKey Backup) to create a backup install which would then have everything ready to go. Fine.

A few months later I buy myself an SSD and now want to install Windows on it. Do everything necessary but the 36GB original install complains that my 120GB SSD is too small to install Windows on… So I repartition my original HDD to have an 80GB windows install. Create new backup install, and successfully install on my SSD.

Fast forward to 2016 and for several reasons I haven’t once reformatted my hard drive since original install. But now it’s time. Backup everything I need. Boot up my backup DVD and try and install onto the same SSD. It complains the drive is too small. This is the same drive I installed on four years prior. No other hardware changes have taken place. I spend the next several hours rebooting trying different types of things; use an Ubuntu live CD to format the drive and remove the extra 100MB partition that Windows makes. All efforts are unsuccessful.

I give up and decide to use a legit Windows 7 install DVD I have to just do a plain install. Alas after installation it doesn’t like my key (the one stuck under my laptop), as the DVD is for Windows Ultimate, and my licence is for Windows Premium… Windows used to have their install DVDs freely available through Digital River. But discontinued this service a few years ago. After some extended searching I get hold of an ISO that, after installing, seems legit and is happy with my key. Yay.

I spent more time trying to get an audio book playing than it took to listen to the book. I have lost every other piece of DRM-locked music I have paid for.


But now I don’t have Office. So I begin the same search for an install for Office. I had earlier run a program to extract the CD-Key from my installed software. Again the Digital River ISOs had been discontinued. MS does offer install files for download on their website, but you have to input a valid CD-Key, and the licence for my CD-Key apparently didn’t match any of the versions they had for download. I get hold of some ISOs through different sources, but none of them are playing ball with my CD-Key…

So what eventually happens? I break down and buy Office. Through all my searching, I kept on getting adverts for MS’s Home Use Program. Basically, if your employer has some deal with MS, you can get Office 2016 Pro for like R150. My employer had never advertised this to us (that I recall), but I typed in my work email address and the next day there was an e-mail at work stating that I am eligible. So R150 later I have Office 2016 installed. My biggest gripe (besides having to pay for something I kinda already had) is that it installs everything! Skype for business (which you can’t use a normal Skype account with), MS Access, OneNote and Publisher which I don’t use. There is no option to only install specific software. And no option afterwards to remove some of the software.

But at least I have a working computer again. And I’ve made copies of all the CDs and installs I used. Stuff knows what use the Lenovo OneKey backup DVDs are to be used for.

All of this boils down to DRM, and how difficult it makes people’s lives. Those who try to do the right thing get blocked at every corner. Whereas I could easily have downloaded a cracked copy and be done with all these hassles. Argh!

Restoring Windows to a smaller drive

I recently invested in a 120GB OCZ Vertex 4 SSD drive. I bought it to replace my 750GB HDD in my laptop. Although it’s quite a knock in space, I was only sitting at about 110GB usage at the time, so figured 120GB limit wouldn’t be an issue, and I’d have a 750GB portable drive to carry around for anything extra.

I was planning on doing a fresh install. When I purchased my laptop it didn’t come with an install disk, so I used Lenovo’s OneKey Backup program to make a set of 4 install DVDs which would pretty much take me back to original state.

I got the SSD, easily swapped it out with the HDD and booted from the backup DVDs. I went through a few menu steps only to be greeted by a box telling me that the drive was too small for the install. The install was less than 30GB, but apparently because the partition the install was on was 750GB, you can only restore to a drive of the same size or larger.

I then decided to give the Windows 7 backup system a try. It would mean I’d be back up and running without any extra installs, but after making the backup onto a portable HDD and then booting with a Windows 7 DVD I had on hand, I experienced the same problem.

Reading up a bit, people suggested shrinking the partition on the 750GB to less than 120GB. When trying to do this, Windows told me, that due to “Immovable Files” I would not be able to shrink the partition to less than 320GB. Didn’t help much, made a new backup but still got the same error.

After some consulting, I booted up in Kubuntu and used the linux drive manager to shrink the partition to a round 80GB. Trying to reboot into Windows resulted in a failure to launch. Fortunately this was solved by running a Windows Repair from the boot DVD. I was then able to boot into Windows, create a backup which successfully installed on my SSD.


  • A backup that you wish to restore must be of a partition that is smaller than or equal to the size of the drive you wish to install onto. The rest of the space must be unclaimed.
  • Use Window’s Disk management to shrink your main partition to less than your new drive’s size. Format the rest of the drive and ensure it is un-allocated.
  • If Windows can’t make it small enough, boot using a linux live boot CD. Freely available. Use the applicable distro’s management software to shrink the partition to the desired size. If on reboot Windows fails to launch, boot with a Windows install DVD and run the repair software. Note: I place no guarantee on this solving any issues that messing with partitions from linux may cause
  • After booting into Windows, create a backup of the installation onto a network drive or portable HDD.
  • Switch out your new HDD/SSD
  • Reboot with the Windows DVD and follow the repair process to backup from an image.
  • Select the appropriate backup and follow the steps.
  • Once installed you can go to Window’s file management again and expand your partition to consume the entire drive.