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Sudden "Reboot and select proper Boot Device" error - SSD not recognized by Windows - Aspire TC-885

Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
I am having a problem with my 2-year old Aspire TC-885-ES14 and I hope somebody can help me.

A few days ago my PC suddenly showed a black screen with the following message: "Reboot and select proper Boot Device or Insert Boot Media in selected device and press a key".

The PC worked fine until it happened. I didn't make any change to the PC. On that day, I performed "shut down" and left the desk. When I came back, I found the above error. It seemed like the machine restarted itself for some reason and failed.

Obviously the problem is the boot drive.
The machine has two SATA drives; one is a M.2 SSD drive (128GB) for Windows (boot drive) and a 1TB HDD for data.
The the drive letter for the SSD (Windows) was set to "C" and the HDD (Data) was set to "D"

Here is what I've got so far:
(1) In BIOS menu > Advanced > Integrated Peripherals, two disks are properly listed:
SATA Port0  Hard Disk SATAFIRM S11, 128GB [serial number]
SATA Port1  Hard Disk TOSHIBA xxxx, 1000GB [serial number]
(2) However, in BIOS menu > Boot Options > Hard Disk Drive Priority, there is no hard disk listed to select (empty).
(3) I used the Windows Recovery disk on USB that I created 2 years ago and tried Startup Repair, but it failed with the message "Startup Repair couldn't repair your PC".
(4) I tried Command Prompt and found out that drive letter C: is now assigned to the 1TB HDD drive and no SSD is found. I tried diskpart but the result is the same (SSD drive is not listed).
Seems like the BIOS recognizes the SSD physically but the Windows does not.

I have no problem with initializing the SSD and clean install Windows if necessary, but how?
I don't know if I can initialize or re-install Windows on the drive which is not even recognized.
And I don't want to make any changes to the HDD which is now recognized as C: drive.

Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

Best Answers

  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    Accepted Answer
    It shouldn't matter, unless you lose concentration and do a format on the wrong drive. :)
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    Accepted Answer
    Yes, your TC-885 supports an NVMe x4 drive in that slot and it will be much faster than a SATA drive. :)
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    Accepted Answer
    The biggest downside doesn't show up immediately. Over time people tend to fill their system drive up, with apps, data and updates. A typical issue with a system that has, say, a 60GB partition for system and a 440GB partition for data is two or three years later the 60GB is 90% full and the 440GB is 10% full. If they had been one partition instead there would still be lots of room. It's less of a factor with SSDs, but a very full partition is a lot slower than a mostly empty partition. You have a nice big drive for data, why not use it for data (and perhaps backups of your system drive) and leave the system partition as empty as sensible.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
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FAQ & Answers

  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    First step is to get a Windows install flash drive ready and boot from it. You can then go into the Repair option on the second screen to access diagnostic tools. From there we want to look at the SSD. I'd use the command prompt and diskpart to see what partitions are there, then drop back out to CMD and verify that data can be copied off the drive. If the EFI partition (the 100MB one) is corrupted or unreadable the drive won't be shown in the list of boot options.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Thank you VERY MUCH for taking time to answer my question, billsey! I really really appreciate it.

    I tried diskpart from the command prompt and 4 disks are listed: I found that "Disk 0" should be the SSD (I didn't notice it before), but the size is "0", "no volume" and "no partition" for the disk. 

    Do you think the SSD is corrupted and needs to be replaced, or is there some way to initialize the SSD to make it work again as a boot drive?

    The windows flash drive gives me "Recover from a drive" option but I am not sure if it correctly re-installs the Windows on the SSD under this circumstance.
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    Wow, four disks when you 'list disk'? I imagine you must have a bunch of extra disks installed? I'd expect at most the SSD, a HDD and the flash drive you booted from. Could you capture a picture of the results for 'list disk' and 'list vol' for us?
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Thank you so much again for helping me, billsey!
    I didn't install any extra disk (I haven't changed or added anything since day one.) I think the fourth disk is a DVD drive (SSD, HDD, USB drive and DVD drive)
    Here is a screenshot of diskpart for "list disk", "list volume" and "detail disk" for disk 0. 
    It hope this screenshot provides some clue.

  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    edited July 27
    OK, so what looks like is happening is you have a card reader, such as for SD cards, on the system. That's generating the Disk 3 info with No Media as expected. Disk 1 is a data partition which used to be D :. Disk 2 is your USB flash drive. Disk 0 is the DVD drive, again with no media. The M.2 SSD isn't showing anywhere, so it has either come loose (very unlikely) or failed. :(
    You are likely out of warranty with two years on the system, so the next step is to open the case and take a look at the SSD. It's nestled behind the main power connector and the SATA ports. That also puts it (IIRC) under the drive tray at the front of the computer. It's possible to access it without removing the drive tray, but one heck of a lot easier with the tray out of the way. Start by pulling off the side cover, then release the latches and pop the front cover off. That exposes the screws to pull the drive tray out and the SSD is right below that. #8 here is the SSD M.2 connector:
    And here's a detail on the SSD:
    Both M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe drives are supported and the NVMe can be x2 or x4 speeds.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    You are likely right, the SSD is an M.2 SATA and it's failed such that the generic SATA Firmware on it is generating that ID instead of the ID of the vendor who supplied it. I find other instances where this has happened to Kingston drives, but they were the 2.5" SATA Versions, not the M.2 SATA. I believe the best next step is to actually replace the failed drive rather than trying to reflash it with good firmware. We don't know what the root cause was for the failure so trying a reflash might just hide the issue for a while. Take a look on vendors like Amazon and see if there's a name brand NVMe x4 M.2 SSD in your price range and we'll get it back up using that.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Thank you for your reply, billsey! If replacing the SSD is the only option then I just have to do it.
    I wouldn't find out without your input, that firmware is being swapped with generic firmware. Thank you so much!

    However since this SSD is going to a waste bin anyway, I would like to play around and try reflashing it. Is it possible with a command prompt?

    I don't know the root cause, but I read somewhere that a sudden power interruption can cause damage to SSD. It could be it? Or just a bad SSD.
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    When I searched on "SATAFIRM S11" I saw several links that gave instructions on trying a reflash, all with lots of caveats about bricking the drive. :)
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Many many thanks for your help, billsey.

    I searched for the keyword "SATAFIRM S11" and I found some information mostly related to Kingston. It will take time for me to figure it out. Since I don't know the make/model of my SSD, the first thing I should do is probably to physically examine the SSD - I hope there is information sticker on the SSD. I am not a tech person at all so I am a bit nervous to take out some parts to access the SSD. :( I need some time to prepare myself for the adventure!

    I don't mind losing any data on the SSD. Most data are on the 1TB HDD which look intact. Would it be safer to physically disconnect the HDD before doing anything to avoid data loss on HDD?
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    Accepted Answer
    It shouldn't matter, unless you lose concentration and do a format on the wrong drive. :)
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Thank you billsey! I will try not to lose concentration... 
    I will make some time after the long weekend.
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    Let us know how is goes. :)
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Thanks, I will let you know how it goes. I just have to prepare myself for opening the case and stuff, which I have never done that before.
    Meanwhile I am checking a new SSD around. Can I just pull out the current SSD and put a new NVMe SSD into the same slot? I am thinking something like this:
    https://www.amazon.ca/Samsung-980-Gen3-Internal-MZ-V8V1T0B/dp/B08V7GT6F3/
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    Accepted Answer
    Yes, your TC-885 supports an NVMe x4 drive in that slot and it will be much faster than a SATA drive. :)
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Thank you billsey! It may take a while but I will definitely let you know how it goes! (I have not yet ordered the SSD, shopping around and start to think to upgrade RAMs at the same time -as it will probably be the last time I open the case).  
    Now I pull out my old dusty laptop from the shelf and realize how comfortable my desktop was. I cannot wait to experience even faster NVMe SSD.
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    Keep us informed as to your progress...
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Thanks billsey! I haven't ordered SSD yet but I opened the case and found out that the SSD is actually a kingston, but could not find any useful information from the label. I used a regular tool and almost ruin the screw thread so I just stop there for today.
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 19,596 Trailblazer
    The Kingston RBU-SNS8180DS3 models are SATA M.2 devices., yours is the 128GB version according to the part number on it. The NVMe x4 drives will be close to four times as fast. :) Don't bother pulling this one out until you have a replacement, or else you'll risk losing that little screw.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    Update with no progress :(
    I've been busy and I haven't had time to do anything, but I managed to narrow down to two SSDs.
    I am wondering, which one is better especially in terms of reliability?

    Western digital SN750 500GB NVMe Gen3 PCIe, M.2 2280, 3D NAND
    Samsung 980 Series - 500GB PCIe Gen3. X4 NVMe 1.4 - M.2 Internal SSD
    As of today, the prices are almost the same.
    I picked these SSDs just because they are listed as compatible with my PC and the prices are right.
    I open to any SSDs in the same price range but I would avoid Kingston for sure. Any suggestion would be really appreciated.

    After I insert a new SDD, I should re-install Windows.
    I have a recovery USB flash drive which I created two years ago via Acer Care Center, but I learned that I can also create an installation disk directly at the Microsoft website. 
    Considering the USB drive contains Windows as of 2019, downloading the latest version from the Microsoft website seems to be a good idea but I am not really sure.
    Using the 2-years old installation USB flash drive from Acer, or creating a new disk at Microsoft, which method better in my situation?  
  • Tweety39Tweety39 Member Posts: 25 Troubleshooter
    I don't think anyone is interested in this thread anymore, so I will make a new thread about the choice of SSD.
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