Computer and Software Support

Troubleshoot not booting to hard drive

Read the Safety Procedures. Very Important!!!

There can be numerous possible causes of this issue. The cause can be software, or a hardware issue. 

Use this troubleshooter with the Software Troubleshooter to determine the cause and fix of this issue.

To determine what is causing the issue, try the following (Some steps may not apply to your situation. Just skip those that don't apply) Click on the hyperlink for instructions for that step.

  1. Boot to the BIOS and set it to the default settings.
  2. Are you getting the message No Disk in drive during bootup. See this page for assistance.
  3. Check to see if the hard drive is being seen by the BIOS. If it is not being seen, it is either not being seen by the BIOS, Motherboard is bad, IDE cable is bad, or the drive is bad. Use the Hard Drive Troubleshooter.
  4. Try running CHKDSK /r
  5. If the BIOS does see the hard drive but will not boot to it, use the Hard Drive Troubleshooter to make sure the drive is connected correctly.
  6. Computer will not come on - After system been off for awhile, it will not work
  7. The bios may have a feature that allows you to boot to a USB device. If this is turned on and you do not have a bootable USB device connected, the system will appear to be hanging on boot up. The system is trying to boot to the USB device but since the USB device is not bootable, it will hang there. It will eventually time out and continue to boot to windows. If you do not have a bootable USB device, go into the BIOS and disable this feature. The location is different depending on the bios. Some have it under Integrated devices under USB Emulation. You set the emulation to no boot. See the manual of your system for the specific information on your bios.  Click here for more information.
  8. Speakers cause no boot - Causes of no boot from speakers
  9. Run diagnostics on your hard drive. (See the manufacturer of your hard drive for the utility)
  10. Set the BIOS to boot to the floppy first. See if it will boot to a bootable floppy. Here is a file to download to make a bootable floppy.  If you are not able to boot to a floppy, use the Floppy Drive Troubleshooter.
  11. Set the BIOS to boot to the CD-ROM drive (insert a bootable CD, such as the windows CD) If you are not able to boot to the CD, use the CD-ROM Troubleshooter.
  12. Try Last known Good Configuration

  13. If you can't boot to normal mode, try Safe mode

  14. Boot to Safe mode and check for bangs in Device Manager.

  15. If you can get into safe mode, it may be software. You may want to try the Software Troubleshooter before going any farther on this page. If the software troubleshooter doesn't help or you can't get to safe mode, continue the steps on this page.
  16. Try copying NTLDR file from Windows CD to drive C (Windows XP)

  17. Try copying the NTDETECT.COM file from Windows CD to Drive C (Windows XP)

  18. This could be a software issue or a hardware issue. You can try the software troubleshooter to see if it is software. If it doesn't fix the issue you can try the steps below. (the software troubleshooter does have some drastic steps that you may not want to do till you try the steps below to rule out hardware before doing the drastic steps (i.e. you may want to do the steps on this page before erasing the operating system))
  19. Open the system and disconnect all PCI cards (modem, sound card so forth), disconnect IDE or SATA cables, disconnect floppy cable, disconnect power to all drives (CD-ROM, hard drive, Floppy), if system has more than one stick of memory and can run with only one stick, remove second stick and reseat the first one.
  20. Check to see if anything looks burned or charred. You might have had a power surge. (Surge protectors are designed to protect the system from this but the system can still be harmed even with a surge protector installed)
  21. Take a look at the capacitors on the motherboard. If they are swollen, bulging, or leaking, it can cause the issue you are having. (click here for information on the capacitors)
  22. Run diagnostics on your motherboard and memory. Set the diagnostics to run at least 20 passes on the memory.  It will take hours to run that many passes on the memory but memory can pass the diagnostics on the first few passes but fail as a load is put on the memory. Click here to download memory diagnostics.  For motherboard diagnostics, see the motherboard manufacturer for them.
  23. You can also use the Hardware Troubleshooter

If after doing the above steps and the problem goes away when the hard drive is removed and the diagnostics pass on the hard drive, you may have a software issue. Be sure to follow the Software Troubleshooter