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Old 02-13-2011, 04:24 AM   #1
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Default Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension 8400

Well, another "wonderful" Dell in the shop.

This POS is just toying with me right now.

Now, here's what it's doing. I boot it up and it immediately gives two beeps and says "No boot device available". (this all happened after the owner reported that he was getting no internet, in which we didn't know the cause...he tried removing norton files thinking it may have been that...and then got that message.)

So, I figured, well, the MBR's crapped. So I pop in the XP disc to do a repair. It says there's no HDD installed. HA! (this is a SATA drive BTW).

Next thing I figure is, the owner probably REALLY f'd something up. So I decided to format it in PartedMagic and see where it went. Went fine...PM found it instantly and I formatted it. But, I wanted to isolate the issue to make sure the HDD wasn't going out. I ran full short and extended tests with the WD utility on UBCD. No errors. None.

So I reinstall XP thinking we're good to go. Get it up and going. At the desktop. Start installing drivers. Restart. Good. Install some more. Good. Restart. Boom. Same message pops up, no boot device available. So, now I'm pissed. Because I don't understand why. The hard drive has tested out to be fine. So I pop in the XP disc. And this time it let's me repair the MBR. Boots right up. I figure, 'eh, bad driver?'. So I continue install routine things...Win. Updates and such. Then I install Avast and it prompts for the restart. Boom. Same message.

WTF is going on here? Just another Dell POS on my hands? I'm thoroughly confused. If I have time, I'll try an PATA drive tomorrow and see if I get different results. But my bet is on the mobo going kaput. But I don't get why that would affect the MBR/drive. BAHHHHH.

Any advice?
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Old 02-13-2011, 05:22 AM   #2
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

My missus' pc was doing that exact same thing last week. Then a couple days later her PSU died. Hasn't done it since i replaced the power supply.
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

Dells are wonderful arent they?

if you try the PATA drive and it works, the mobo might be going or the drive had reached the end of its life.
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

Well can you plug the hard drive in a different SATA controller port? Don't they run individually? And yeah Dells are a POS!!

But if that's all they got, then that's all they got and we'll have to figure out to make it work!
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

I have just confirmed that it is not the PSU.

Swapped it on the desk and still having the same issue. It was giving the message, I swapped the PSUs, still gave message, fixed MBR, booted up to XP, restarted, gave message again. It's almost ALWAYS after a restart. It always fixes the MBR and works the first time. I dunno. I've still got an inkling that it's the hard drive. That's the next swap. If that still doesn't fix the issue, it's gotta be the mobo. If it DOES fix the issue it's either the mobo SATA channels or the HDD.

EDIT: I've got a feeling the MB is going. I've tried a PATA drive in multiple configurations, with multiple cable setups and it's still giving me no boot device installed. Bummer for my customer. I just put 2GB of DDR in this thing about 6 months ago.

2nd EDIT: Now I'm getting to be annoyed. So, I'm swapping things back to get it how it was originally for return back to my customer. Thing has started fine on the last two reboots. WTF. It's gotta be a flaky MB. Ha. Third reboot--it's now giving the message again.

3rd EDIT: Okay. So now I'm THOROUGLY confused. With the XP install disc in, it's doesn't give me that message. It asks if I'd like to start windows normally (ya know, that gobbly gook), if I press enter, it just loops/restarts. However, without a disc in the drive, it gives the message. With the CD drive unplugged it gives the message. I think the data channels on this board are just fubar. I didn't notice a bulging cap, so that may be the root of the issue. I swear, every Dell I've dealt with has had at least one bulging cap.
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:01 PM   #6
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

Have you tried a memtest?
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Old 02-14-2011, 04:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

Quote:
Originally Posted by maverick0923 View Post
Have you tried a memtest?
I have not. The RAM that's in it is 6 months old. Doesn't mean it's bad, but I don't get why that would be giving a no boot device error. I will run a scan next weekend (back at college now) just to make sure, but I doubt that's the issue. If it IS, I'm going to blame that bulging cap--mainly because it'll be the third Dell (same model, too) with a bulging cap and bad RAM. Coincidence? Maybe, but doubtful.
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Old 02-14-2011, 06:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

Did you replace the SATA cable and SATA power cable.
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Old 02-14-2011, 06:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

Quote:
Originally Posted by maverick0923 View Post
Did you replace the SATA cable and SATA power cable.
I've tried a different PSU, different SATA cables, and an IDE drive.
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Old 02-14-2011, 06:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Continually having to repair the MBR ("no boot device available") Dell Dimension

Is the boot device priority in the BIOS changing after every reboot or was the CMOS battery already ruled out? Its kind of weird that you are getting the same problem with both IDE and SATA HDD's.

Flash the BIOS?
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