Troubleshooting: PC Won’t Go Past Motherboard Boot Screen

Troubleshooting: PC Won’t Go Past Motherboard Boot Screen

Have you ever gone to turn on your PC and been greeted only by the boot screens text never to have your OS start? Perhaps your machine says there is no OS on the drive and pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del allows it to boot safely into your designated OS? I have seen both issues recently, and these tips are how I solved them.

Boot issues are the worst kind of computer issues. One day your PC is working fine without any issues, the next it refuses to get you to a point where you can do anything, leaving you with what seems to be an expensive brick/paperweight. Depending on the issue there are a number of things you or your local geek can do to try to resolve them.

Remove Any New Accessories

Your BIOS/EFI/UEFI determines which hard drive your computer is to boot from and sometimes adding a new external hard drive can cause the auto detect feature to inappropriately reassign your boot disk. I recently found this out when I configured my parents PC for automatic back ups.  They purchased a new 1TB external drive and I hooked it up and set up Windows back up for them.  Within a week they called me stating they were greeted with a no OS found error and pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del allowed Windows to boot.  Removing the HDD fixed this allowing everything to work as normal.  So if that is the case, what do you do next to get your new accessory working? The next item has the answer.

Reset Your BIOS/EFI/UEFI

Boot_Issues_BIOS_ResetSometimes things just need to be refreshed to get things working again.  All BIOS/EFI/UEFI systems should have an option to reset to defaults.  Even if you never made any changes, it is a good thing to do anyway as yes, errors can happen here as well.

Going back to the story from the previous item, this was the next trouble shooting step after reconfiguring all sorts of settings to see if they worked to get my parents PC to boot.  Only after resetting to defaults did things work properly and all drives were used as expected.  For some reason even configuring the same settings before the reset did not fix things. A reset was the only answer.

Update Your BIOS/EFI/UEFI

If resetting your BIOS/EFI/UEFI doesn’t work, it may be time to look for a BIOS/EFI/UEFI update from your manufacturer.  Yes, these can have bugs too.  I recall my mother-in-laws old PC (Pentium 4 Dell) having a memory leak or something similar that required the BIOS to be reflashed for it to boot properly once the issue arose.  However, improperly flashing your motherboard can cause it to not work at all, so only do this step if you are comfortable with it or find a local geek to check it out for you.  All else, skip this step until you try the next one.

Replace Your CMOS Battery

Boot_Issues_CMOS_BatteryIn my experience, dying CMOS batteries can cause some of the strangest issues with a PC. Instead of simply causing the time to be off or keeping the machine from booting, a mostly dead battery can cause subtle errors, glitches and general problems. A dead CMOS battery means no BIOS/EFI/UEFI settings are saved and they will need to be reset each time your PC boots. If something isn’t acting right replacing the CMOS battery can fix it.

So what is the CMOS battery? If you have ever opened up a PC you may have seen a watch battery embedded into the motherboard somewhere. This is the CMOS battery. It’s the battery that helps save your BIOS/EFI/UEFI settings while your PC is not powered on. From all the motherboards I have seen a CR2032 battery is the standard size and they cost anywhere from $5-$10 USD. A cheap fix if it works, and if it doesn’t you can most likely use it again in another PC or small electronics you own.

Reinstall Your OS

Sometimes it’s more than just the motherboard that has problems. Your OS could have failed spectacularly ruining the file system on the hard drive or perhaps even the hard drive is failing. In addition to this making changes to the BIOS/EFI/UEFI could make it that your OS drive is unreadable. How? Once an OS is installed with specific settings it needs those set that way to run.  The most common being ACHI being enabled for modern hard drives. By default the motherboard may have ACHI disabled making it unable to boot your OS. Other settings may also be tied to your OS as well. So if all else fails, you may need to reinstall that as well. This will ensure all settings are synced again between the software and hardware and should get you back to a working machine. During the reinstall process you should also be able to tell if it is a bad hard disk or not by any errors you receive.

These are the items I have found to help the issues I have dealt with.  Have you had similar errors but needed a different way to resolve it?  Let everyone know in the comments below!

~Trevor

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