How to Fix a “Default Boot Device Missing” Error

Update 1-23-2019: This article has been updated with additional details on how to fix boot errors.

What does a “Default Boot Device Missing” error mean?

A “Default Boot Device Missing” error is a startup error you might see on your Lenovo computer. Once you turn on your PC, you expect to see the familiar Windows loading screen after the initial startup screen. But if there’s something wrong with your PC, instead of that, you might see an error message after the startup screen.

All manufacturers of PCs have slightly different terminology in their error codes, even though many of them might mean the same thing. The message “Default Boot Device Missing” is used mostly by Lenovo PCs, and almost exclusively to refer to a specific boot error. Some Acer PCs also use this error message. While some boot errors can be very serious, this one usually has a simple fix (although, as our case study below will attest, sometimes the fix is not so simple).

How to fix an Inaccessible Hard Drive Boot Device

This error is usually the result of a change in the BIOS settings of your Lenovo PC. The vast majority of users experiencing this error can easily fix it just by going into the BIOS on startup and changing one little thing in the settings.

  1. Restart your PC.
  2. When the initial startup screen with the Lenovo logo appears, immediately press F2 to enter the BIOS setup. The actual key you need to press may vary from different models, but for most Lenovo laptops, it will be F2.
  3. In the BIOS setup menu, select the Boot tab and press Enter.
  4. Check the boot order and make sure your PC’s hard drive is in the first slot. If not, swap the order of boot devices so that your hard drive is first.
  5. Highlight Boot Mode, press Enter, and swap from UEFI to Legacy Support.
  6. Under that option, swap UEFI to Legacy First
  7. Go to the Exit tab, highlight Exit saving changes, and press Enter.
  8. Restart your laptop.

If changing the boot order and/or swapping from UEFI to Legacy Support doesn’t fix the issue, you may have a defective hard disk drive on your hands.

Causes of a ``Boot Device Not Found`` error:

  • Your BIOS UEFI settings have changed
  • The boot sequence or boot order is incorrect
  • The hard disk drive has failed

What do you do with a defective hard drive?

If your PC is under warranty, you may be able to send your defective hard drive to your PC manufacturer and have it replaced. If not, you’ll have to buy a new hard drive or SSD for your PC and reinstall Windows to it. But there’s one thing you can’t replace: All of the files you had on your PC’s hard drive.

        How often do you back up your files?

        Do you have a system in place that automatically backs up your important data?

        If you do, have you checked to make sure it works?

If you had important files such as documents, photos, or videos on your PC’s hard drive and need help getting them back, contact our specialists to learn how we can help you.

If your PC has a defective hard drive and you didn’t have your files backed up, there’s no need to panic or feel stressed, as much as you might want to.

Since 2003, Gillware has been providing professional data recovery services so we can make what you’re going through right now as painless and stress-free as possible. With free shipping to our lab, free in-lab inspections by our engineers, firm price quotes, no upfront fees, and a “no data, no charge” guarantee, our world-class lab is your best shot at getting your data back.

Why do hard drives break down?

There are many reasons why an inaccessible hard drive might be failing to function.

There could be a logical issue, or a firmware bug preventing the drive from working. Any component of the drive could have failed and caused the hard drive to have trouble booting up or detecting on another computer.

And the mechanical failures that can stop your hard drive from functioning don’t have to be dramatic or catastrophic.

A hard drive’s read/write heads, for example, can fail without you ever hearing the dreaded “Click of Death” (but if you keep trying to push the drive, you could make the heads’ condition even worse, putting you in even bigger trouble).

When a hard drive fails the way this client’s drive did, with no obvious symptoms pointing toward a clear culprit, it takes a data recovery professional to figure out what happened. Fortunately for our client, our data recovery lab has more than its fair share of data recovery experts.

Whatever was affecting this inaccessible hard drive, an evaluation by our data recovery engineers would bring it to light. Once our engineers had taken a close look at this drive, we knew why it had failed—and what we could do to get the client’s data back.

This hard drive’s problem lay within its firmware.

Hard drive firmware is somewhat like the operating system in your computer. Without an operating system on your hard drive, your computer’s functions are rather limited. The O/S manages the all sorts of things so that your computer can… be a computer.

Likewise, hard drive firmware manages your access to data on the drive’s internal hard disk platters. Like with any O/S, things can go wrong and you can end up with a kernel panic—with much more severe consequences.

Inaccessible Hard Drive Repair – Fixing the Firmware

When your O/S becomes corrupt, you can usually fix or reinstall it without much worry about losing your data.

But it’s not so easy when it comes to your hard drive’s firmware. Just like a hard drive’s read/write heads or hard disk platters, HDD manufacturers don’t want anyone touching the firmware of a hard drive other than themselves.

It’s very complex, and certain parts of it vary from drive to drive. Sometimes manufacturers allow users to update their drives’ firmware, but the process is heavily guided and restricted to avoid giving users too much access to such a sensitive part of the drive.

The only way to access hard drive firmware and fix the problem is to “trick” the drive into thinking it’s on the factory floor, where the manufacturers program the firmware. This requires special hardware and software tools you’re not likely to find outside of a professional data recovery company.

Inside of a data recovery lab, though, is a whole other story.

We have in our data recovery lab highly skilled data recovery experts who’ve studied and analyzed hard drive firmware for years. With our specialized tools, we can explore an inaccessible hard drive’s firmware, diagnose the issue, and fix the problem to get the hard drive in working order again.

Occasionally a hard drive will have a more serious issue that must be fixed after repairing the firmware, but in this situation, the hard drive ran just fine after we repaired its firmware.

After reading 18.2% of the sectors on this previously inaccessible hard drive’s platters, our engineers had fully recovered 100% of the user’s files. None of the recovered files suffered from any sort of corruption. We rated this data recovery case a perfect 10 on our ten-point scale.

Read our case study about a customer of ours who was in the same situation as you to learn about our data recovery specialists’ capabilities and how we can help you:

Data Recovery Case Study: Inaccessible Boot Drive

The client in this data recovery case had an inaccessible hard drive on their hands.

When they turned on their Lenovo laptop, they received an error message. Their computer told them this: “Default Boot Device Missing or Boot Failed. Insert recovery media and hit any key, then select Boot Manager to choose a new boot device to boot or recovery media.”

The client removed the Western Digital hard drive from their laptop and investigated it, connecting the drive via USB adapter to another computer. The drive spun up just like normal, without making any frightening or unusual noises. The computer even recognized that they’d plugged a hard drive into it.

But that was about all the computer could detect about the drive. There was no way to mount or access the device. The user unplugged the hard drive and got in touch with our recovery client advisers. Soon enough, the inaccessible hard drive reached our data recovery lab.

Drive Model: Western Digital WD10JPVX-75JC3T0
Drive Capacity: 1 TB
Operating System: Windows
Situation: HDD spins up and is recognized, but is inaccessible
Type of Data Recovered: Pictures, Quicken documents
Binary Read: 18.2%
Gillware Data Recovery Case Rating: 10

Do you need help getting your data back from a defective hard drive?

Will Ascenzo

Will is the lead blogger, copywriter, and copy editor for Gillware Data Recovery and Digital Forensics, and a staunch advocate against the abuse of innocent semicolons.

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