Acer Travelmate Spin B TMB118-RN-P31H - NO BOOTABLE DEVICE

BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
edited May 7 in TravelMate and Extensa
Son just come back from school and showed me his laptop with no bootable device.  Not dropped or anything and working last night.... have tried entiering the BIOS setup (F2) etc but no luck.  ANy help gratefully received
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FAQ & Answers

  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    edited May 5
    IIRC that SKU comes with a 64GB eMMC drive soldered to the motherboard. The eMMC models are toward the lower end, both because it's cheaper to solder a drive in than plug one in and because the eMMC chips are cheaper than the M.2 SSDs and SATA HDDs. The problem is the life expectancy is a lot lower on an eMMC drive than on either of the others. I think your model was released for the 2017 Christmas season, does that sound right? If the drive has failed then the best next step is to ignore the onboard drive and put either an M.2 SATA SSD in or a SATA SSD. Either of those will run at the same data transfer rate, so the overall performance will be comparable. An old style spinning HDD will also work, but much, much slower. The activation key for Windows is built into the MB so you just need to drop the new drive in, boot on a Windows install image and install to the new drive. Needless to say if the old drive has failed he will have lost anything he didn't have backed up, but at least he will be running again.
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  • StevenGenStevenGen ACE Posts: 3,737 Pathfinder
    Son just come back from school and showed me his laptop with no bootable device.  Not dropped or anything and working last night.... have tried entiering the BIOS setup (F2) etc but no luck.  ANy help gratefully received

    Just as an addition to what billsey has stated and suggested and if your son has valuable data from school on this laptop and he needs it to be recovered? You can take this laptop to an expert “Data Recovery Tech” as they will be able to recover most if not all valuable data that your son has from school or personal on his laptop.


  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    Bilsey - thanks very much for the background info and why is is broken...  its been an expensive lesson.. it was recommended by the school too! 

    So I have downloaded a windows image onto a external drive but when i plug it into the broken laptop it says something like unable to use that drive to write to?  I suspect I am doing something fundamentally wrong and might be downloading the wrong thing!  Any help will be gratefully received!
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    Well, it's certainly possible. :) How did you download the Windows image? From the Microsoft site using their Media Creation Tool or did you just grab the ISO image from them? Was the USB drive a flash drive (thumb drive) or an external HDD/SSD? It's a lot easier to get it all working with a flash drive. If it was a flash drive, was it 8GB or larger? Were you warned when you started the process it would wipe everything off the flash drive (that is normal)?
    Assuming the flash drive is setup right with a Windows install image from the downloaded ISO, you need to go into your BIOS and turn on the F12 Boot Menu (some have F12 included in the name, some just say Boot Menu). By default it is disabled, you need it enabled. Similarly you need to turn off Secure Boot. By default it is enabled, you need it disabled. Once you have those BIOS changes made you can plug the flash drive in, save and reboot from the BIOS and hit F12 to get the boot menu. In the boot menu you should see the USB drive listed, choose that and it will start a Windows install session. On the second page there is a Repair option. We will use that to do the extra diagnostics, but you can start by letting it try an automatic repair and see how well it does.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    So I used Media Creation tool downloading Windows 10 64 bit onto USB flash drive.  Was warned that flash drive would be wiped etc.  
    Plugged the USB into the son's broken laptop.

    Initially I went go to the 'Install Now' option, accepted terms and conditions and then selected Upgrade Option but got error message ' the upgrade option isn't available if you start your computer using Windows Installation media'  The only option left is to select 'close.

    So secondly i again selected 'install now' accepted terms and conditions and selected 'Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)'.  The next page asked me 'Where do you want to install Windows?'  With an error message of @we couldn't find any drives.  To get a storage driver click load driver.  SO i selected 'Load Driver' and got the following error message:- To install the device driver for your driver, insert the installation media container driver files, then click OK.'  I am unsure what device driver to install and where to find it! 

    So having exhausted all the possibilities with the Install Now Tab and then tried Repair your computer option..  I was given two options here, either 'Turn off your PC', which did exactly that or 'Troubleshoot'.

    Clicking 'Troubleshoot' I got 6 options.. Start Up Repair - led to error message 'Start-up couldn't repair your PC... with an advanced options or shut down options.  Selecting Advanced options took me back to the 'troubleshoot' or 'Turn off PC page'

    So having tried the 'Start-up Repair' choice I am left with 'Command Prompt',  'Uninstall Updates', 'UEFI firmware Settings', system restore and system image recovery options.

    Using 'Command Prompt' took me to the command prompt but i have no idea what to do, i didn't try 'uninstall updates'.  I have no idea what 'UEFI Firmware setting' are. 

     'System Restore' gave me an error message 'to use system restore' you must specify which windows installation to restore, restart your computer'.

    'System Image' gave me an error of 'Windows cannot find a system image on this computer.

    So now i am pretty stuck with nowhere to go!  Would be grateful.. if you can wade through all the information for any help you can give! 

    Thanks for your help so far.. warmest regards
  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    Sorry forgot to add, in the BIOS is have no options in the F12 to boot from anything but it seems to automatically boot from USB as shown about.  The other BIOS setting is I have no option to switch off the Secure Boot in the BIOS Setting.. using the up and down arrows/ F5 F6 will not select the which shows Secure Boot as enabled.  The touch sensitive screen likewise will not help me changing it.. it is as if it is 'greyed out... Many thanks
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    OK, so it looks like the eMMC drive has likely failed then. We can verify that using the Command Prompt option along with diskpart:
    • At the command prompt type diskpart then Enter
    • At the DISKPART> prompt type list disk then enter
    • In an ideal world we would see two  or more disks listed. The USB disk you booted from and the original disk in the machine. My guess is we are going to see only the USB disk. If that is the case we can stop here and move to repairing with a new drive.
    • If there are two disks listed look at the disk number for the disk that isn't the USB disk. It should be near 64GB in size, since the eMMC drive is 64GB in your system. It will likely show less than 64GB due to the difference between how programmers look at numbers and how marketing people look at numbers.
    • Type sel disk # with the number you found then Enter
    • Type list part then Enter
    • That will show the partitions on the disk. You should see either three or four, one of the first ones will be 100MB in size (really small) that is the EFI partition and one will be really big (50+GB) and that is the system partition.
    • Take a picture of the screen with that data displayed on it and place it in a replay here so we can see what the current state is.
    Let us know where we are at at this point and we'll go on to the next steps.
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  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    Bilsey - thank you so far.....your third bullet point was correct, no disk shown apart from the USB drive...

    Regards
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    OK, so we know for sure that the eMMC drive soldered to the motherboard has failed. The next step will be to install a new drive in the HDD slot, but we will uses a SSD instead. Turn the laptop over, there should be two screws you loosen to remove the HDD door. Take that off and get us a picture of the space under it. It will either be setup for no drive, for a SATA 2.5" drive or a SATA M.2 drive. That will tell us if you need to purchase anything other than just the drive. Also, find a USB flash drive that's at least 16GB is size that can be repurposed by wiping it completely as part of the process of creating a Windows install drive.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    Please attached picture as asked for!  Many thanks
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    edited May 12
    OK, sort of what I was afraid of... The M.2 connector isn't populated at all, it would be under the sticker with the QR code. The connector just to the right is for the HDD/SSD and will require a couple of parts before we can put a drive in. The HDD CABLE ASSY 50.VFXN7.001 is required to connect from that socket to the drive itself. You can search on the Acer part number (starting with 50 and ending with 001) or for B118-R hard drive cable. They should be relatively easy to find and shouldn't break the bank too much. There is also the HDD BRACKET 33.VFXN7.001, which gives two brackets to fit on the side of the drive with screws hold to the drive to the bracket and screws to hold the bracket to the case. The drive screws are M3x3.5mm and are pretty standard, the case screws are M2x4 and again are common for laptop case screws. You can likely bypass the bracket and screws by just using some double sticky tape to hold the drive in place, especially if it's a SSD since they are so much lighter than a HDD.
    So, once you have the cable and a 2.5" SSD on hand you will open that drive bay again and plug the cable into the drive. If using them, screw the brackets to the drive. Place the drive and cable assembly into the drive bay with the bottom of the drive facing you. It should be fairly obvious how it fits. If using the brackets screw them to the case. Then plug the other end of the cable into that connector. Put the drive door back on, flip the laptop back upright and plug power in.
    Now you are going to need a Windows install flash drive, you can use the Microsoft Media Creation Tool to download the image and create the install flash drive or you can download the ISO from Microsoft and Rufus to then create the installer from the ISO. I typically use Rufus, but that's because I usually end up making a bunch of these installers and only need to download the image once. With the install flash drive plugged into one of the ports on the laptop turn it on and immediately start tapping on the F2 key in order to enter the BIOS. You should see the drive listed as HDD0 or HDD1 on the information tab. On the Main tab make sure the F12 Boot Menu is enabled (by default it is disabled). On the Boot tab make sure the Boot Mode is UEFI and Secure Boot is disabled (the default is enabled). On the Exit tab save and exit. When it reboots immediately start tapping the F12 key until the boot menu comes up. The only option you are likely to see is the flash drive. Choose to boot from that. From there it's mostly a matter of following the prompts, use Install and when it asks where just tell it to use all that unallocated space on the new drive. It will reboot a few times during the install but shouldn't take much more than a half hour or so to complete.
    Once done do the normal new installation stuff, choose keyboard type, language, connect to the WiFi, login with your Microsoft account, etc.. When Windows is up fully run Windows Update over and over again until it has not updates left to do, then launch Device Manager and look for any errors or warnings. Capture those for us and we'll figure out what drivers might be missing. Let us know how it goes and he should be happy with the 'new' system. He will have more storage, it'll be just as fast as before and will be more robust with the higher quality drive. :)
    Oh, last step... Drop back into the BIOS and enable Secure Boot again, that gives you an extra level of security making it much harder for malware to get into the system, since it will be blocked from booting a non-signed boot image.

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  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    edited May 12
    I have this from an old computer .. is the right sort of drive ?

    IS this the correct cable:- https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32795007951.html?spm=a2g0o.cart.0.0.697a3c00fY4Y8k&mp=1


  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    That drive would work, but significantly slower than the eMMC drive was. SSDs have access times in the 25-100 microsecond range, HDDs in the 5-10 millisecond range, so around 100 times faster. Data transfer speeds are the same, so long unfragmented files don't matter much, but most disk accesses are small files scattered over the disk. The cable also looks like it might be right, at least the connectors are, but the length might be off. If it's a little longer you are likely OK, if a little short not so much. That cable is a 50.M2DN1.002 but I don't have any sort of cross reference between the different part numbers. Here is one on eBay.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    OK.. many thanks for all that.. i will go silent now as i order and wait for the cable... but up to know you have been brilliant and very helpful.. kinda of hoping the rest will go smoothly without any more input!  Warmest regards
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    Please let us know how it works out...
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    Bilsey.. got the cable through eventually.. this one https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32795007951.html?spm=a2g0o.cart.0.0.697a3c00fY4Y8k&mp=1

    But when I plug it into the laptop (it fits into the slot of the laptop and the hard drive (I am using the hard drive as pictured above) it just switches the laptop off..... i suspect the cable is incorrect.. in which case i am stumped as I don't seem to be able to find the cable from anywhere else in UK!  Any thoughts or is it time to recycle it?

    Many thanks.. so far!
  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    Two pictures to show the new cable in use
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    The cable should be right, even though they don't give the part number some of those models that are listed seem to use the same part. How confident are you that the drive itself is good? That is a really old drive, so it could be trying to pull too much power... The computer itself is just new enough I'd hate to just give up on it, but even a fairly small SSD would be significantly more costly than the free HDD. I see a generic 250GB SSD on Amazon UK for £24.48.
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
  • BigredsaabBigredsaab Member Posts: 18 Troubleshooter
    Could you send me the link for the Amazon UK SSD just so i know i am getting the right part.  The HDD does work as i had it plugged into my laptop via USB.. I would really prefer to use that one if there is any way around it as i dont want to keep on spending money to no avail!  So any ideas of using the old drive!  Many thanks
  • billseybillsey ACE Posts: 23,466 Trailblazer
    I think this is the one I saw yesterday. The prices can change fairly often...
    Click on "Like" if you find my answer useful or click on "Yes" if it answers your question.
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