One of the most annoying things has to be switching the computer on and getting an ‘Reboot and Select Proper Boot Device’ error screen which doesn’t let you boot up your operating system, or actually doing anything at all.
Even if you try rebooting the PC over and over, the error persists and leaves you frustrated.
Many Windows 10, 8 or 7 users get an error message saying ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ along with a black screen.
A failing or failed hard drive, corrupted system files, or an incorrect PC boot order can be behind this error message.
Let’s take a closer look at what can cause this error code message, and find out how to fix it.
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What Does ‘Reboot and Select Proper Boot Device’ Error Mean?
This error means your PC’s BIOS (basic input/output system) is unable to locate the boot device with your operating system on it.
You are prompted to restart the device, go into the BIOS (UEFI) and choose the boot device which has your operating system on it, then get the PC to boot up from there.
There are a number of different reasons you might be getting this error, including both software issues and physical computer problems.
What Causes the ‘Reboot and Select Proper Boot Device’ Error?
Software Issues: these can include a corrupted or damaged master boot record (MBR), an inactive boot partition, a faulty boot sequence in the BIOS, lost or corrupted boot files, or a corrupted operating system.
Physical Computer Problems: these can include a failed or damaged boot disk, a boot disk which isn’t connected to the PC hardware properly, a defective cable, dead hard drive, or damaged SATA slot.
You need to restart the PC to boot into the BIOS and keep pressing a key to enter the BIOS system.
The key you need to press might be F2, F8, F10, F12, ESC or DEL, and should be shown on the post screen.
If not, it should be listed in the manual which you got with the PC’s motherboard.
Continuously press the key until the PC boots into the BIOS system, and then try the following fixes.
8 Ways To Fix ‘Reboot and Select Proper Boot Device’ Error
Now let’s see how you can easily fix this error:
FIX #1: Check Your Hard Drive Disk’s Power Cable
The hard disk drive that your operating system is stored on has to be connected to the motherboard via a power cable.
If the cable isn’t connected properly, frayed or broken, your PC won’t be able to detect the hard drive.
- Shut down your PC, find the power cable and check it to see whether it is damaged or not connected properly.
- If it seems OK, remove it and test it on another PC.
Error can occur on the other PC, so you need to replace the power cable – if not, reattach it to the first PC and try the next fix.
FIX #2: Clean The RAM
A RAM which hasn’t been removed or cleaned since you got the PC might be behind the ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ error.
This is how to clean the RAM:
- Shut down the computer and unplug in.
- Remove the screws from your PC tower or laptop bottom to remove the sideboard and find the RAM.
- Unlock the clamps holding the RAM in place and remove them carefully.
- Use a soft cloth to clean the dust off the RAM.
- Reposition it and clamp it back in place.
- Close the PC and reboot it to see if the error has been fixed.
FIX #3: See Whether the BIOS Detects the Boot Drive
The PC’s BIOS might not be able to detect the boot drive.
This is how to check:
- Restart the PC, then press whichever key gets you into the BIOS.
- You will see all the devices your BIOS is able to detect, in a list, including hard disk drives, fans and other hardware such as a DVD/CD drive.
- If your hard disk drive is not included on the list, shut the PC down.
- Open it up and either connect the hard disk drive to a different SATA slot, or use a different SATA cable to connect the hard disk drive to a different SATA slot in the motherboard.
- Reboot to the BIOS and see whether the hard disk drive can be detected now.
- If so, you know it was the motherboard’s SATA slot or your cable causing the issue.
- If not, you might be facing a failed, damaged, corrupted or dead boot disk.
FIX #4: Check the Boot Order In the BIOS
Occasionally the boot sequence can become messed up, causing the ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ error message.
In order to check your BIOS boot order, start the PC up and enter the BIOS with whichever key it uses, then follow these instructions:
- Go to the ‘boot’ or ‘startup’ screen/tab (this might appear on the main screen).
- Can’t find it? Check the advanced BIOS features (you should see your boot disk listed first).
- If it is there but not listed first, move it to the first spot.
- If you have a newer BIOS system, you can drag and drop it, else you will have to use the arrow keys to move it up.
- Now it is in the top position, save the changes and restart the PC.
FIX #5: Disable or Enable the Legacy Boot
Some BIOS systems come with legacy boot, which is a feature that might cause the ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ issue.
You can fix it by disabling or enabling the legacy boot.
- Restart the PC and go into the BIOS.
- Find the legacy boot option (look through the settings/tabs in the BIOS to locate it).
- If it is disabled, enable it – if it is enabled, disable it.
- Save your changes.
- Exit the BIOS then restart the PC.
FIX #6: Set the BIOS to Best Defaults
Not having your BIOS set to the default values can cause instability, although actually this is quite rare.
Perhaps it is this instability giving you the ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ issue.
- Reboot the PC then open the BIOS and look for a ‘load optimal defaults’ option (load these defaults then restart the machine).
FIX #7: Activate an Inactive Partition From Command Prompt
You might be seeing the error message if your primary hard drive partition on the boot disk is not set as active.
Setting it as active can get rid of the error.
You need either a recovery disk or Windows installation media disk for this, and you have to set it up in your BIOS as the priority boot method.
- Insert the disk and follow the instructions until you see the repair/restore/recover option.
- Click on any of them and you will get a screen of System Recovery Options on Windows 7 or Vista, or a screen of “Troubleshooting” on Windows 10 or 8.
- Type this after the command prompt: “diskpart” and press Enter.
- Enter the command line “list disk” (press Enter) to see the disks installed on the PC.
- In the command line select “disk 1” (or whichever has the inactive partition on it) and press “Enter“.
- Enter the command line “list partition 1” (or whichever partition is inactive) and press Enter again.
- Enter the command line “active” (press Enter) to activate it (diskpart will prompt you that the partition is now active).
- Exit the command line and restart the PC to see whether the error has been fixed.
FIX #8: Fix the Windows Boot Files
If you don’t think the error originates from the BIOS and you don’t have a physical issue with the hard disk drive, it might be worth repairing the Windows boot files.
This will see whether they were corrupted and responsible for the ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ error. In order to do this, you need a Windows repair disk or media installation disk.
- Insert the disk into the CD-Rom drive and run it (you might need to tell the BIOS to boot from this disk).
- When you see the Windows setup screen, click on ‘repair your computer’ to go to the “Windows Recovery Environment“.
- Next you must run the command prompt.
- If you are a Legacy BIOS user, type these, pressing Enter after each one:
bootrec /fixmbr [press Enter] bootrec /fixboot [Press Enter] bootrec /rebuildBCD [Press Enter]
- If you are a UEFI user, type in bcdboot C:\windows (replace the C with whichever hard disk drive you are using).
- Exit the command prompt and restart the computer.
If you still have the error, your Windows boot files were not responsible for it.
If you have tried all the above fixes and nothing has solved the ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ error, you can try to update the SATA drivers in safe mode.
If this does not work either, replace the CMOS battery in the motherboard. This is the memory system and it might be corrupted.
Finally, if none of these fixes have worked, you might have to do a clean reinstall of Windows if you think the hard disk boot drive is damaged or the operating system has been corrupted.