Fix HP Stream broken eMMC - alternative solution
The HP Stream laptops & similar are extremely popular with students and people on the go who want a cheap lightweight machine with a good battery life.
Unfortunately the main storage component with these laptops is a cheap (and usually very low capacity) eMMC chip that is soldered to the motherboard and is pretty much guaranteed to fail at some point, pushing the price of the replacement motherboards up beyond economic repair.
Here we have a workaround, although not ideal, you can replace a component with a brand new storage card.
This involves sacrificing the built in WiFi card which to some may not be worth the trouble, but if you have one of these laptops and you want a cheap way to replace the internal drive, this may be for you.
Things you will need...
- A working computer with Windows installed
- An M2 NGFF Key A.E WiFi slot card reader/adapter for the HP Stream
- A USB or built in SD Card reader to use for installing Windows to
- An SDXC Micro SD card (fast as possible)
The main task is to replace the internal WiFi card with a PCI-e Micro SC Card reader.
I bought mine off eBay for £15, you can buy off Amazon (as above) or for around £5 if you're happy to wait for it to come directly from China.
The next thing you will need is a compatible SDXC card (you can fit up to 2TB) which is a massive improvement to the original 32 or 64gb chip.
Again there are many variants of card you can buy depending on speed and capacity so it's up to you how much you want to spend. For the experiment I fitted a 128gb SanDisk Extreme 160 MB/s (although the card slot I bought only supports up to 480Mbps)
The next thing is to prepare the card. Bearing in mind that Windows doesn't usually support installing it's operating system to 'Removable Storage' so there are a few things you need to do.
First of all download a free working Windows 10 ISO from the Microsoft website.
Then you need to download a program like 'Rufus', follow the link below...
This program will enable us to install Windows 10 as 'Windows to Go' onto the SD card.
It should look similar to this below...
This can take a while but when it completes there is one more thing you need to do.
You need to download a tool such as this one - The Lexar USB tool.
This tool is really handy as it lets you (with 99% of cards/USB drives) 'flip the removable bit'. If this works, it will stop Windows 10 from blocking it and allow it to become a bootable drive.
If you want to check everything has worked before fitting the card in the laptop you can try booting from it using your working PC, although it will start to set-up Windows to the hardware of that computer so it's not recommended.
The next thing to do is remove the 8 screws on the casing of the HP and remove the bottom by unclipping it. Try not to touch anything to avoid causing damage. You will see the WiFI card at the top of the laptop. Unfortunately removing this will obviously lose the ability to go online so I recommend you buy a cheap USB WiFi dongle. There is just the one screw holding the WiFi card in so remove that screw and carefully take the card out. Replace it with the SD Card reader slot you have bought and screw it in. Pop your card in and voila!
Turn on the laptop and press F9 if you need to and select the boot drive. This can be changed in the BIOS settings by pressing F10 at the HP logo although mine did it automatically.
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Ryan Lowry - 11th Feb 2021