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  1. #1
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    After a power failure following an ice storm, the Dell E310 wouldn't boot. After talking with India for awhile, decided that a new HD was in order. Ordered, received and installed the new HD. Went into System Setup and ensured that the BIOS would try to boot from both the HD and the DVD. Inserted WinXP CD into DVD drive and powered up only to receive black screen message "No boot device available - F1 to retry - F2 for Setup Utility". It never hits the CD.

    I searched the 'net for this message and got lots of hits for the problem on various different Dell systems, but I never found a page that said the suggestions offered actually worked.

    Any suggestions?

    TIA

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    First, was your Dell in the process of booting up or shutting down when the power went out?

    In the Bios, did you set the DVD drive to be the first priority boot device? If so the Windows installation CD should have booted your computer so you could install XP?

    Check Device Manager to look at the status of the DVD drive. Are there any errors indicated on the DVD drive?

    If the Bios skipped the DVD drive and found the hard drive, which was not yet bootable, then check to see if the cabling came loose on the DVD drive when you installed the new hard drive. Remove the power and data cabling, reseat them, and reboot to see if the Windows CD is detected.
    Deadeye81

    "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response, Gerald!

    After my post, above, about problems that my brother had experienced that we thought was attributable to an ice storm, I have the exact same symptom on my Dell Dimension 4700 desktop.

    This problem arose for brother, John, after they experienced power failures after an ice storm last week. When he tried to turn on his Dell Dimension E310 after the power outage, he got the problem. Before he and I spoke about it, he called Dell support and spoke to India and dropped $50 for a support call and $80 for a new hard drive. He was promised by Dell - who sold him the hard drive that he could call them again without charge and receive instructions on how to install it but when he did so they insisted on charging him another fee.

    Well, he received the new HD and called me. I talked him through dismounting the old HD and installing the new one. Realizing that the new drive would not boot for lacking software, I told him to insert his Windows recovery CD in the drive and power the system up. We got the same error message. OK, maybe we have to check his setup for bootable devices and the sequence of trying them; so I talked him through System Setup and making the CD the first bootable device and the HD the second. We got the same result, same error message. FWIW, the POST diag lights (on the front of the DD E310 showed 1,2, and 3 green but 4 unlit. The drive is SATA. Checking Dell's manual told me to set up boot sequence and bootable device settings and if that failed to call Dell (which will be the last thing I do!)

    Hmmm. This time I had him get out his Dell diagnostics CD and we ran diags for an hour with the result that no failures were found by the diag software. So, I then had him check to be sure that nothing had changed the boot instructions in Setup, inserted the Windows CD, and restarted the computer. We got the exact same error message.

    Now comes the weird part! (Cue Twilight Zone music!)

    While I was talking to him I was using my Dell Dimension 4700 desktop to surf the web for the same problem and reported solutions. Firefox froze so I powered off and then powered back on. I got the exact same symptom as he was having . . . the exact same error message (see above, in blue). He is in Eastern North Carolina and I'm in central Texas!! ?? !!!

    I was NOT - repeat NOT! - connected to his computer in any way nor have I ever been. I don't even use the desktop much anymore instead using this HP laptop. This it too weird. What's worse is that despite finding many many posts in different forums online reporting this problem on Dell machines (haven't seen it reported on any other mfg's), I'm yet to find a thread that reports successful resolution of the problem.

    There are only 2 commonalities that I have found so far: Both systems are Dell Dimension desktops (though different models with different mobos) and both systems are trying to read Western Digital SATA hard drives. My system is older than John's and almost certainly has a different BIOS. I don't know what BIOS version his was but mine is A09. Neither of the systems is still under warranty; so dealing with Dell support is expensive and has, so far, been fruitless. In addition to going through System Setup to set bootable devices and sequence to use them, we have both checked cable connections on each system. Dell's website has yielded no results thus far.

    Given the prevalence of the problem as reported online and experienced by the 2 of us, I could be convinced that we've been attacked by a worm, trojan, rootkit, or other malware. That is always a possibility despite the fact that I keep my 'protection' freshly updated and active. I am much more likely to believe that problem is a Dell problem, but have no evidence. Web searches using the error message do not turn up any indications of malware being the cause but yield dozens of hits from people posting about the same message with Dell computers.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    (BTW: I spend my first 50 years in Raleigh)

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    It is indeed a small world! I once had a Dell laptop that caused me all kinds of misery. I could get no help whatsoever from Dell support, but when I browsed Dell Forums, I began to see multitudes of postings about the same problem I had, and there was a move underway to get Dell's attention concerning the issue.

    You probably have already searched Dell Forums, but if not, you might find even more people reporting the same problem and somebody there may have come up with a solution.

    I forgot about the Dell green light system. I once downloaded a chart that explained all the possible light sequences and what they mean, but I do not remember where I found it. It Should be on Dell's Support page for your and John's model.

    The last time my machine indicated an absence of a bootable disk, I finally went inside the PC and checked the data and power cable connections to the SATA drive to see if that worked. One time it did help and the computer booted just fine. I have seen some very loose fitting SATA cables. On a different occasion with another PC I unplugged the SATA connector from the motherboard and inserted it into a different SATA socket, and that fixed the boot problem. On yet another machine, I replaced the SATA cable and the boot problem went away.

    Also about two years ago, I worked on a computer that displayed a "non-boot disk" message. Naturally, after checking the system I concluded the hard drive had given up the ghost. But I checked the output voltage from the power supply and it was fluctuating outside of the voltage tolerances. I replaced the power supply and the computer booted just fine. A power supply that is going bad can appear to be okay, but there can be unexplained flaky behavior on the machine until the PS actually dies.

    Does your brother use a working surge suppressor? If your brother's PC was still plugged in (not powered up) when the power failed, that could be an issue. ATX machines still draw a small amount of power even if the PC is plugged in after normal shutdown, and there could have been a large power spike that might possibly have damaged the power supply when the power was suddenly lost in the storm. Just a thought.

    You mentioned using a Windows Recovery CD. Have you tried using an XP install CD instead to see if it would boot?
    Deadeye81

    "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

  5. #5
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    Good suggestions, all, Gerald!

    Thank you again.

    I'm suspecting the power supply on my computer. I've already ordered an Ultra 650-Watt PS that should be here about Monday. I have been able to get my system to boot but it is running extremely slowly like maybe the HD is doing multiple reads to get a good one without irrecoverable failure.

    Talked to John again this afternoon and we swapped out his surge protector and reseated the mobo battery and all the cables. We were able to get the BIOS to display its splash screen showing publisher, copyright and version number (which it had not done until today); but we can't get past the boot problem. We checked and reset every setup option back to defaults. I even had him change a HD setting to "On" for the second HD which he doesn't have just to see if the boot procedure would show it missing. It did.

    I'm thinking that the battery might be bad, or his ps is also gone South. If a new battery doesn't fix the problem, I'll have him put a volt meter on the power leads; however, I don't know what voltage his HD is supposed to draw. Guess I'll be doing some web research on that one. I know its a WD drive; so we ought to be able to find the info we need. That should tell us if the ps is the problem, too.

    Again, thanks for the help!!!

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