General Question

KatawaGrey's avatar

What would happen if I was to turn on my computer without a harddrive?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21433points) April 9th, 2009

My computer needs a new part so my school lent me a computer and put my harddrive into the loaner computer. What would happen if I tried to turn my computer on? It doesn’t have a harddrive in it so it even be able to turn on? I would try it myself but I don’t want to break my computer any more than it already is.

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7 Answers

Darwin's avatar

Not much would happen unless you have a “boot disk.” Your harddrive (and the boot disk) generally contains your operating system and all the commands a computer needs to know where its parts are and how to run them. Without that information your machine will turn on but all you will get is a blank screen and a blinking cursor up in the corner.

It won’t hurt your computer, but you won’t be able to do much, either.

squirbel's avatar

The computer can turn on, nothing will go wrong, it just can’t boot into Windows.

richardhenry's avatar

Depends on the motherboard you have. Most PCs will simply display a message on the display informing you that no boot device was available, to insert or connect one, and try again. Try it, you won’t break anything. A Mac will display an image of a folder with an exclamation mark (I think, or perhaps a hard drive with a sad face. I can’t remember.)

If you inserted a bootable CD, like a copy of Linux or the Mac OS X install disc, you would boot into the OS on the disc (although nothing would be saved permanently because there’s no writable non-temporary storage, such as the RAM memory).

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It won’t damage it. The motherboard will look for a bootable device and it will report an error when it fails to find one.

Response moderated
richardhenry's avatar

*Referring to the RAM as the temporary storage, not saying the RAM is missing. Just realised how unclear that was. :)

AshlynM's avatar

No I don’t think you’ll hurt the computer but you just won’t be able to boot up and run Windows or another operating system. You obviously won’t be able to get onto the internet either. You won’t be able to do anything important.

It’s like you have an empty shell of a computer, you can’t do anything with it except maybe go into the BIOS to edit.

You may get an error message when you turn the computer on, such as, no operating system found, and it may ask you to insert a disc for it to install.

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