Laptop Hard Disk Drive Failure
Updated: Apr 20, 2021
It's about to be a bad day for you.
You pull your laptop out of the bag to do some e-mailing or pay bills... you know, the fun stuff. You pull out the power cord (because you still haven't taken the time to get the battery replaced after three years) and plug it in. Time to get started, you press the power button. Screen lights up and then your presented with a black screen with white text:
"Boot Device Not Found: Press Any Key to Try Again"
The error message is pretty clear to what's wrong with the computer. The question is what happened to the storage drive and can it be fixed? Likely you don't care why this happened and you just want your laptop fixed. The good news is the computer can be fixed, however the amount of effort required to retrieve your personal files may vary depending on the failure type.
What causes: "Boot Device Not Found"?
The BIOS got confused. Sometimes, configuration changes and other issues can cause the boot order of the storage devices attached to your computer to be rearranged. As a result, your PC might try to boot from a storage device or partition that doesn’t actually have the right configuration to be a proper boot device. For example, you can boot from your hard disk drive with Windows installed on it or a USB drive with Windows installation/recovery files on it, but not your USB external hard drive that has all your family photos on it.
Your hard drive’s boot sector or partition table is corrupted. If this important metadata on your hard drive becomes severely corrupted, your hard drive, or at least the partition containing your OS, may appear to be blank. Usually, all of your data is still on the device, but the signposts that target it no longer exist. In this situation, it’s usually unlikely that you’ll be able to retrieve any important files you have on the device by reinstalling your OS.
Your hard drive is broken. This is a common reason for a “no bootable device found” issue. Hard disk drives typically last about five to ten years before breaking down, although their lifespans depend on their workload and how much stress they’re put under. If you can hear your PC’s hard drive clicking, beeping, or making other strange noises, disconnect it from your computer immediately. You will need to replace it in order to fix the “no bootable devices found” problem.
The SATA/IDE cable connecting your hard drive to the motherboard is loose or doesn’t work. This is one potential cause that just about every troubleshooting website on the Internet will bring up. In practice, it’s very rare for this to occur, though. You might as well check the SATA cables on the 0.1% chance that they are the root cause of your “boot device not found” issue because it’s easy to do and you might get lucky, but it’s far more likely to be one of the above three causes.
The best thing to do is power your laptop off and have your device looked at by a professional. Attempting different fixes found on the Internet incorrectly could make your personal files less likely to be retrieved. In most cases the storage drive can be removed from the system and cloned to a temporary location. Once this is done it is safe to make changes to the MBR (Master Boot Record), or repairing Partition Tables. Worse case scenario, the drive needs to be replaced and your Operating System reinstalled. Your personal files can then be transferred over using the temporary drive clone.
If the storage drive has failed and data recovery is required we can assist with this process by either performing the recovery in house or working with one of our data recovery partners.
In the particular case of this story, our client brought their laptop to us the same day the error occurred. We were able to remove the storage drive from their laptop and clone it before the drive completely failed. They choose to replace this 1TB Hard Disk Drive with a SATA 2.5" Samsung EVO 860 512GB Solid State Drive for better performance. We reinstalled the Operating System and requested third party software. Once this task was performed their personal files were copied from the temporary clone and they were back in business in less than two days.