No WiFi networking errors after new hard drive and system recovery on Toshiba Satellite L550

Your hard drive crashed, you installed a new one and did a System Recovery using Toshiba’s DVD discs, so why can’t you get connected to your wifi and why is all networking (LAN, Bluetooth, Software Modem) disabled with bad, unsigned drivers errors and Yellow exclamation points in the Device Manager?!

According to the good folks on the Toshiba Forum here, the issue arises when you restore to a new hard drive which features a new technology called 512 emulation (512e).  These advanced hard drives cause conflicts with the device drivers, causing you not to be able to connect to Windows Update and to the internet in general.

First thing to try:

Download and install the Intel Rapid Storage Technology update.  That seems to work well for most people.

If that doesn’t solve your problems, then you can try to install the Windows updates for advanced drives:

  1. An update that improves the compatibility of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 with Advanced Form…
  2. A hotfix rollup that improves Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 compatibility with Advanced Form…

NOTE: After you get things working again, you may notice a slowdown in your system as it access the hard drive.  There is a fix for that too, which you can find here

And just in case you need it..here is a link to a Disassembly Guide for the L550

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My system – Windows Vista 64-bit with Western Digital Scorpio Blue WDBABB2500ANC-NRSN advanced-format hard drive:

  1. These devices were Yellow !! in Device Manager:
    Mobile Intel(R) 4 Series Express Chipset Family
    Mobile Intel(R) 4 Series Express Chipset Family
    TOSHIBA Software Modem
    Intel WiFi Link 5100 AGN
    Realtek RTL8101 Family PCI-E Fast Ethernet NIC (NDIS 6.0)
    BlueTooth ACPI
    Realtek HD Sound
  2. I uninstalled everything and tried to reinstall stuff with the drivers from the website and the software modem installed and the HD Sound installed, but the others did not and gave me all kinds of error notices.  I also got a warning about an unsigned driver when trying to use a USB drive.
  3. Tried to install Vista SP2 64-bit and got a failure notice.  Ran Disk Checker, then SFC /scannow and I think it fixed some issues.
  4. Installed the Intel RST, but that did not fix the issues.  The hotfix listed under #2 above didn’t install because I was still on SP1, so…
  5. Was able to install SP2 via standalone install. That did not fix the issues.
  6. Tried to install the hotfix from #2 but it said “the update does not apply to your system” even though I clearly have SP2 now…guess it came with the update??
  7. Based on this NOTE:
    “If you have already cloned a hard drive onto a WD Advanced Format Hard Drive using another cloning utility, you should use the WD Align software program to optimally align the drive.”  Couldn’t install..everytime I logged into WD’s site it goes to the main page instead of giving me a download link.  Opened a case with them, will monitor.  Moving on…
  8. Ended up returning the drive and using an old, less-than-advanced-format drive instead. I couldn’t afford any more time troubleshooting as the user needed their laptop back.  If anyone ends up doing the same thing I did please leave a note letting me know how it all turned out.  I can see this drive incompatibility being a major problem for admins in the near future.

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