How to restore a Panasonic ToughBook CF M34 27/10/2007


Tools of the trade:

1) USB to IDE 2,5’’ hard disk interface
2) USB to IDE 3,5’’ (or another 2,5’’) hard disk interface
3) A pc with any Windows OS and PowerQuest Patition Magic (or similar suite)
4) Partition Magic rescue Disks
5) MS-DOS 7.0 installation disk (freeware)
6) A pc with NO OS installed (the hard disk has to be empty, with no MBR at all)
7) Windows 98 installation
8) Windows 2000 update installation
9) Panasonic CF-M34 drivers (these are downloadable from Panasonic’s website – if you own a Toughbook you’ll easily gain access as registration is free)
10) Spare time and patience

Goal: fully restoring a CF-M34 laptop (this computer has NO units: this means NO floppy disk, NO cd rom, no bootable USB. Moreover the PIII 400 mhz models haven’t got the chance to boot from a USB floppy drive, differently from the next ones) – we assume as a starting point a computer with EMPTY hard disk, with no rescue nor save-to-disk partition. This is particularly useful when having major configuration problems with you OS, i.e. system not booting, safe mode not working.
Following these steps you will install Windows 2000 (this OS is better supported by these models) getting the pc back to be fully operational in every part.


1) First of all, remove the battery from the CF-M34. Then unscrew the back panel and uncover the insides. You will find a black rectangular plastic part where a little speaker is alloyed. Lift it to discover the hard disk package. Unblock the cable and remove the pack, open it and remove the cable from the hard disk. You will then have a clean 2,5’’ HD ready to use.

2) Connect the 2,5’’ HD to your USB to IDE box, then connect this interface to your working computer (the one with XP and PMagic). Run PMagic, choose the external 2,5’’ disk as the unit to work on then remove any partition you have on it (secure erase suggested). Once done, you can create a partition (any dimension, BUT strictly over 1 gb) with FAT32 system files.

3) Switch to the other clean pc. Install MS DOS 7.0 on its hard disk (remember: the system file will so be FAT32). You’ll now have a working pc with that OS.

4) Remove the hard disk of this latter computer and connect it to the second USB to IDE box you have.

5) You now have two HD: one empty with FAT32 system files, the other with MS DOS 7.0. Now take the XP working pc and connect BOTH of them to it. Run PMagic and use the “Copy partition” command. So, copy the MS DOS 7.0 partition onto the clean FAT32 partition. You can now take the MS DOS 7.0 HD back into the computer you took it from. This unit is not necessary anymore.

6) Now, using the XP pc, copy the WIN98 and WIN2000 installation files in the toughbook HD. Be sure you don’t affect anyway the MS DOS system files. Copy the CF M34 drivers in another folder as well.

7) Disconnect the HD from the USB to IDE interface and put it back into the toughbook. You can close it again.

8) Now switch the toughbook on: it will run MS DOS 7.0 and you will be able to launch WIN98 setup file (the WIN2000 is not executable in DOS environment). Install WINDOWS 98, and then working in WIN98 environment launch WIN2000 setup. You will then be installing WINDOWS 2000. After having mounted all the drivers you had copied in the hard disk before, your PC will be again fully operational.

(C) 2007, Diego K. Pierini