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No Bootable Devices Error

Explanation, Causes & Troubleshooting Guide

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Yesterday, in the middle of switching between user accounts, my Girlfriend’s laptop went blank, then blue screen, then when everything restarted an awful error message appeared:

“No bootable devices–strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility”

If you ask tech support, they will likely suggest wiping your hard drive (if it is just corrupted) and starting over, or buying a new hard drive (if it really is dead) and starting over. Both options suck. And both options equal losing any data you have on your computer.

Going through pages and pages of search results, forum discussions, troubleshooting guides, etc…I fixed my “No Bootable Devices” error in a very simple way…and learned a lot about troubleshooting internal HDD errors. I realized I could help visitors with the same problem by organizing all the info I gathered into this page.

So, before giving up and trying to reinstall Windows (or other OS), or messing with BIOS — Please see how I fixed this problem, how others fixed the problem, and what to do next if you can’t find an easy fix. This guide is based on my experiences fixing this error on a Dell laptop with WinXP, but the instructions/steps should hold up for just about any make, model or operating system (OS).

No Boot Device Available – What Does This Mean?

Simply put: “No Bootable Device Available” means your computer can’t find your hard drive. Aka: Hard Disk or HDD. The hard drive is where data is stored on your computer (files, programs, photos, everything), this includes Windows or whatever operating system you have installed.

Since your computer “can’t find” your hard drive (HDD)… it can not boot (start) Windows or other OS…and you are stuck.

Troubleshooting Steps:

First, let’s see if your computer has any link left to the hard drive. You’ve already tried pushing F1 (if you are on a Dell) and received an “Internal HDD Error”.

So, step 1: Press F2 (or whatever the computer suggests) to enter BIOS setup. If F2 doesn’t work try the “del”, or F10 key. The “esc” key works on some brands, too.

BIOS has different versions, but there should be something labeled “Primary Hard Drive” – if it says “none” … then your computer doesn’t even recognize that a Hard Drive is connected. Let’s hope my solution works for you.

If under “Primary Hard Drive” it lists any info (name, size, etc)…then skip down to this section for your next step (actually, even if the HDD is showing up in BIOS, you could try my easy fix below…but it is less likely to work.

If under “Primary Hard Drive” it says “none”, it could just be a loose connection keep reading:

How I fixed my No Bootable Devices Error on my Dell Laptop:

I removed the Hard Drive, then pushed it back in…nice and tight. And TA DA!

All Fixed. Crazy, eh?

If your computer can’t find the HDD at all, the problem came without warning, and you are on a Laptop (Dell and HP are known for this)… this would be my first suggestion to try fixing your error.

Opening a computer can void your warranty, but if you are like me: my computers always break after the warranty has expired anyway — it doesn’t matter 😛

You must: Unplug the power cable, and remove the battery first before removing the Hard Drive. Remove any thing else plugged into the computer: mouse, USB drives, etc.

Also, you’ll want to ground yourself by touching a un-painted metal object (I use a wrench) to ground myself before touching the insides of a computer.

After removing the battery, you should see if you computer model has a way to ground the MotherBoard. On my Dell 610 — you simply hold the power button down for a 5 seconds after disconnecting the battery to ground the MotherBoard. All Dell laptops work this way, I think.

This guide has photos and steps to disassemble a Dell 610 Laptop (thanks to the author for helping me fix my computer!) — but my guess is that any Dell Laptop would have similar instructions.

If you have a different computer brand or model simply do a Google search for “disassemble brand /model” — replacing “brand / model” with your own computers name. For instance, if you have an HP Pavillion G6, your search term would be “disassemble HP Pavillion G6”. Go through the results and try to find a nice step-by-step guide with photos. Check out my resources below for quick links to common Laptop Disassembly guides.

Remember: you don’t have to take apart your whole computer. Just find out how to remove the battery and the hard drive. Be sure to read warnings and suggestions if the guide mentions any.

I don’t know if this would work on Desktop computers — but it may be worth a try.

Why Does Removing and Putting-Back a Hard Drive Fix this Error?

Sometimes, the connection to the HDD gets loose — removing it and putting it back in (push it into the slot firmly to make sure) can fix this issue instantly. Dell laptops seem to be especially associated with this issue.

I also think perhaps removing and reinstalling (physically, not software-wise) the hard drive resets things back to normal. Kind of like how if your computer is acting weird, the first step is generally to turn it off and on again.

More Troubleshooting Tips and Resources

Well, I am sorry my simple solution of removing and returning the hard drive snuggly didn’t work for you. Your next step will probably involve fiddling around in BIOS with IDE settings and such — and I have no idea how that works.

A tech forum such as might be able to guide you through further troubleshooting in BIOS.

Laptop Disassembly Guides:

These all link to illustrated guides on how to take-apart specific laptop models.

Common Laptops Models. Learn how to take-apart a:

Dell 610 Laptop – same website has guides for many Dell Laptop models

HP Pavilion dv6000 series laptop

Acer Aspire 5100 laptop

HP Pavilion dv6500, dv6600, dv6700, dv6800 notebooks

If your model isn’t listed below do a Google search for “disassemble brand /model” — replacing “brand / model” with your own computers name. For instance if you have a HP Pavillion G6, your search term would be “disassemble HP Pavillion G6”.

More Computer Tips and Guides from Blifaloo:

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Also see: Computer Tips Index – for a listing of all our computer / internet related guides and resources.

Last update on 2023-03-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API