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PC does not recognize the boot drive based on external drive presence. Wth?

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AnTyx

New Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
I have a tower PC that I had professionally built in 2015. MSI Z97 Gaming 3 motherboard, i5-4690K, Strix GTX970, 16GB RAM.

It was a nice gaming machine at the time (still not bad, surprisingly!), and it's in a BitFenix Ghost case with an extra hard drive bay at the top, hot-swappable SATA in a separate compartment that is accessible without taking apart the case.

For five years, the PC worked without a hitch. Recently it's stopped recognizing the boot device... at first occasionally, then consistently. Just black-screens at the BIOS level, with the error "Reboot and Select proper Boot device or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device and press a key".

The primary system drive is an SSD (Samsung Evo 850), with a big Toshiba HDD for storage. I ran the disk checker diagnostic on the SSD, no problems found. So I thought it was a loose cable. Opened up the case for the first time in years, jiggled the cables around (they're all nicely ziptied in there, very neat), it booted. But that did not produce a consistent solution.

Here's what DOES work though: I have an old WD hard drive from, like, the PC I had before this one, in the external bay. For every time I boot the PC, I have to toggle it one way or the other - either connect or disconnect. It's not that it boots in ONE position - but that the position has to be DIFFERENT from the previous boot instance. And that works every time.

And no, it's not booting from that old HDD in the external drive bay.

I've tried changing the order of boot devices in the BIOS setup, popping the CMOS battery, no difference that I could find.

Any ideas?
 

trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Is the external drive USB? Not sure what you are referring to when you use the term "external drive bay." Are you referring to "hot-swappable SATA in a separate compartment"? To me, an external drive is one I connect via USB, firewire cable, etc.

Have you tried actually replacing the CMOS battery as opposed to just "popping it out"?
 
OP
A

AnTyx

New Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Are you referring to "hot-swappable SATA in a separate compartment"? To me, an external drive is one I connect via USB, firewire cable, etc.

Correct. It's got a SATA connection for a standard hard drive, no separate enclosure, but it's accessible without having to open the case itself: https://www.bitfenix.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Word-press-Comrade-Ghost-overview_07.png

Have you tried actually replacing the CMOS battery as opposed to just "popping it out"?

Not yet - I guess I could - but not sure why this would make a difference if the error persists while the PC is constantly connected to wall power.
 

Robert17

Premium Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Consider new cables. When you jiggle one and the machine boots, makes me think that the connector is dodgy.
 

stompah

Deep Pain Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2001
Consider new cables. When you jiggle one and the machine boots, makes me think that the connector is dodgy.
Might also be a good idea to not use that external dock. There could be a problem in the connector there also.
 
OP
A

AnTyx

New Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
So, update: eventually dove deep into BIOS settings and manually disabled boot from anything except the Samsung SSD. Fixed the problem. Still doesn't feel like it was a cable issue...