No Boot Device
Explanation: The system has attempted to find a drive with a Boot Sector to load the operating system, but has failed to locate one. The error message itself may not always be very clear that this is what has happened, especially the infamous message “NO ROM BASIC – SYSTEM HALTED”. The operating system cannot start because there is no boot sector, and thus no operating system to be loaded. At this point, the boot process is halted. Some systems may give you the option to retry the boot process by inserting a floppy boot disk or by entering setup, but merely as a convenience. Otherwise, you must reboot the PC to a disk with a valid boot sector.
Diagnosis: All of the bootable drives in the system are not truly bootable or are nonfunctioning. Normally this means that; a floppy disk is not present, the floppy drive in not functioning or is not present or not functioning, or the hard disk is either not connected or has no active boot partition.
- Unless you intend to have a system without a floppy drive, diagnose this first. Make sure that the ribbon cable is attached to the drive and the motherboard correctly. Make sure that the power cable from the power supply is attached properly to the floppy drive. Lastly, make certain that the floppy disk you use has been formatted and is indeed bootable.
- If you are working with an existing computer system and have not added a new drive (or anything else for that matter), there may be a problem with the drive, or at least a problem with the boot sector or master boot record. You may be able to repair the master boot record using a MS-DOS or Windows boot disk and using the FIDSK/MBR command. You will find more information about diagnosing hard drive problems and how to repair them in our Technical Support area.
- If you are building a new system with a new hard drive that has never been formatted before, you need to prepare the drive before using it. Preparing the drive means that you must first insert one or more partitions, make one active and then format the drive. How you prepare a drive will be determined by the operating system you plan on installing. More information about this procedure can be found in our Technical Support area.
Partitions and Active Partitions
You may only boot computer systems from “active” primary partitions. Even dual-boot systems use the primary active partition for its boot loader files. In MS-DOS this is referred to as the active partition. Only one partition can be set as active at a time, as otherwise the master boot record would have no way to know to which volume’s boot code to give control of the boot process when the machine is started.
Should you partition a new hard disk and create a primary DOS partition using the standard DOS utility FDISK, and forget to set the primary partition active, the motherboards BIOS will be not be able to boot the operating system. This results in an error message “No boot device available”. Some BIOS’s will issue a more cryptic message such as the older AMI BIOS’s with their infamous “NO ROM BASIC – SYSTEM HALTED” message. The reason for this error is that early IBM systems had a hard-coded version of the BASIC language built into its BIOS ROM. If no boot device could be found, the BIOS would execute this hard-coded BASIC interpreter. Since non-IBM systems don’t have this BASIC ROM, their BIOS’s display an error message instead of booting into BASIC.
While most people only have one hard drive and one partition to be concerned with, many people are opting for second hard drives or splitting their existing hard drives into multiple partitions. Remember, only the first partition will be a primary partition!
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