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Seelix's avatar

Computer help for morons -- I'm getting a mysterious reboot error. Can someone help?

Asked by Seelix (14862points) June 22nd, 2014

Hey all,

I’ve decided to ask my loverly fellow Jellies for help rather than try to decipher the results I got Googling my problem. I’m not a computer moron per se, but I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to fixing errors.

I was watching Netflix when my computer suddenly stopped doing what it was doing and now shows the following error:

Reboot and select proper Boot device
or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device and press a key

Like I mentioned, I did Google the problem, but I’m having a really hard time understanding the advice I’ve found because I’m not super-techy and I just don’t get it.

Is anyone able to help me by giving me instructions in plain English (or by pointing me to a link that does)?

Much appreciated!

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16 Answers

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janbb's avatar

Did you try just shutting it off and doing a regular reboot? If that doesn’t work, it sound like you will have to insert a boot disk into your disk drive and reboot it from that but someone else needs to weigh in as to what that would do to your hard drive’s data.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Is your computer really hot? Sounds like you’re having hard drive issues.

jerv's avatar

Okay, that message means you have no valid operating system that the computer can read. Maybe that’s because your OS got corrupted, maybe because your hard drive failed and the computer can no longer read anything from the drive.

As there are multiple possibilities, and each has very different solutions, I’m afraid I can’t be more specific :/

flip86's avatar

Sounds like a hard drive failure to me. Or maybe a connection came loose inside the case. Open it up, locate the hard drive and make sure the connectors are snug.

dappled_leaves's avatar

If this happened while you were streaming, the first thing I would worry about is whether your fan is working properly – if it’s not, you could be damaging your HD by letting it get hotter than it should. If the fan is not working, replace it or get it replaced asap. One hard drive failure is not good, but things will go downhill rapidly from here if the heating problem is not fixed.

jerv's avatar

If it is an overheating issue as @dappled_leaves suggests, then you will soon lose much of the rest of your system. The “Red Ring of Death” issue that the older Xbox 360s suffered from was heat-related.

Usually a simple cleaning will solve that. Periodically opening your system up to clean the crap out of the heat sinks will prevent it from being a problem before it starts doing things like damaging your hard drive or frying your CPU. Cleaning after the fact will stave off future damage, but if you already fried stuff, it will still be fried.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Also note: using an external fan is possibly the worst thing you can do if you are having overheating issues.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

What kind of computer? Desktop or laptop?

Seelix's avatar

Yikes. It’s a laptop, if that matters.

I’ve had overheating issues in the past with other computers, but never with this one. With others, I’ve gotten the overheating error (something like Windows has recovered from an overheating event or similar) but never with this one…

And here’s where my moron-ity comes in: by “boot disk” do you mean the Windows CD? Hmm, I’ll have to see if I can remember where that is…

Well, thank you, to all who’ve tried to help. I’m afraid it might be a helpless situation :(

jerv's avatar

Not entirely helpless.

The hard drive may be borked, but the rest of the system may be okay; just replace the drive and you’re good to go 0(though you should clean out the dust bunnies while you’re in there). Hard drives in laptops are especially failure-prone as the system is moved often, so if it has failed, it may not be due to heat.

It’s possible that the hard drive is fine and it’s just the Windows install got corrupted. The problem there is that computers haven’t shipped with CDs for years. Some allow you a way to make your own, but for the most part, the recovery “disc” is a partition on the hard drive. Of course, going that route will usually reset things to factory condition, especially if you choose the wrong option, so it’s not a safe path.

Regardless, whether it’s a hard drive failure or just the Windows install, the system can likely be repaired. Just possibly not by you; sometimes you just gotta let the professionals take over.

ahro0703's avatar

Not hopeless, but maybe it got some virus.

flip86's avatar

Do not reformat or try to install anything on the hard drive. The data may still be retrievable. I’m guessing this laptop has no disk drive? You will have to create an Ubuntu bootable USB stick. It isn’t hard. Instructions here. You can then access the failing disk and start recovering data, if possible.

There is a ton of documentation available for Ubuntu. Any question you have can be answered with a Google search. Ubuntu is free and open source.

dabbler's avatar

I agree with above analyses that the hard drive is unreachable for some reason.
That can be either because it’s dead and needs replacing, or the connections to it are not solid.

If it’s just the connections (not unusual, especially if the machine has been run hot, then you might be able to restore operation yourself. Check the manufacturer’s site for documentation about accessing the hard drive. Some laptops have a hatch built into them so the hard drive can be upgraded or replaced. Open that hatch and find the connectors to the hard drive. Un-seat (remove) then re-seat (put it back) the connectors on the hard drive. That can be enough to scrape off oxides that were interfering with the connections. You might need to unscrew some mounts on the hard drive in order to get at the connection or in order to disconnect the drive.

If you have to replace the hard drive, then look into a solid-state drive (SSD) replacement. If you can put one in your laptop it will run Much faster and will be a little cooler.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Yeah, be sure to back everything up (if there’s anything on it you want to keep) before messing with the hard drive. Also… if it has just happened this one time, and you can get back in to do a backup, I’d probably just continue to use it, and worry about replacing the hard drive when it’s good and fried. One shutdown is not enough to convince me to have to reinstall all my software.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

The reason I ask @Seelix about laptop ot desktop is that I once had overheating problems with my laptop which I fixed rather easily by simply buying a cool lift. A device you put under your laptop which lifts it up at a slight angle thus allowing maximum cooling with no extra fans.


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