Fix: Reboot And Select Proper Boot Device [Updated 2023]

Fix- Reboot And Select Proper Boot Device

User Case

This week we had a client report this exact issue when trying to boot up his computer. We tried a lot of the below fixes ( which you must too! ), before we decided to pretty much start from stratch!

Don’t worry – this is a common issue that can often be fixed with a few simple steps.

In this article, you’ll learn why this error occurs, how to fix it, and some preventative measures so it won’t happen again.

Let’s get started!

If you see this on a desktop PC, first check if you have the SATA cable plugged in all the way – trust me – that is about 90% of all the cases – if that solves it for you, give us a shout out! And that’s probably done for you in less that 5 mins! 

If not, let’s move on..

Key Takeaways

  • The ‘Reboot and Select Proper Boot Device’ error can be caused by incorrect boot order in BIOS, a corrupted Master Boot Record (MBR), faulty cables or loose connections, damaged hard drive or peripheral devices, and incorrect BIOS settings.
  • To fix the error, you can reset BIOS to default settings, check and select the correct boot drive in BIOS, enter custom parameters for the hard drive if needed, set the system hard drive as default, save changes and restart the PC, use the Startup Repair tool to fix boot sector issues, disconnect and clean SATA cable contacts, try using another SATA cable, test the hard drive in another computer if necessary, and run scans and check the file system for errors.
  • The error is a common issue when the computer cannot find an operating system and is usually caused by incorrect boot order or a damaged MBR. Hardware issues or faulty connections can also be a factor, so it’s important to check cables, connections, and BIOS settings.
  • The error can have physical causes such as a faulty cable, damaged SATA slot, or a dead hard drive. Checking connections and replacing a damaged disk may be necessary. Professional assistance may be required for SATA slot issues. It can also have logical causes such as a corrupted or damaged MBR, incorrect boot sequence in BIOS, lost or corrupted boot files, or a corrupted operating system on the boot disk. Checking BIOS settings and the active partition and restoring from backup or reinstalling Windows may be needed.

Causes for “Reboot and Select Proper Boot Device” Error

Physical Causes:

Most physical causes can be caused by a faulty cable, damaged SATA slot, or a dead hard drive. The most common problem is that BIOS detects the boot disk but it isn’t connected properly. 

Another possibility is that the boot disk has been damaged or failed. If it’s an old disk, then age might be a factor here as well. Check for any signs of damage and see if replacing it resolves your issue.

Logical Causes:

The error message ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ can occur if the master boot record (MBR) is corrupted or damaged, or if the wrong boot sequence is set in BIOS.

It can also happen if the boot files get lost or corrupted, or if the operating system on the boot disk becomes corrupt. In all these cases, your computer will not be able to recognize your hard drive and therefore won’t be able to load Windows correctly.

The best way to fix this problem is to check your BIOS settings and make sure that you have set up a correct boot order. You should also make sure that the active partition contains all of the necessary Windows files for it to start up properly. If any of these are missing, you will need to try restoring from an earlier backup or re-installing Windows altogether.

If none of these solutions work for you, then it’s possible that there may be some physical damage with either your hard drive or motherboard that needs to be addressed before you can continue using your computer normally again.

In this case, seek help from a professional technician who can diagnose and repair the issue quickly and safely so you can get back up and running as soon as possible.

You Probably Have The Wrong Hard Drive Selected In The BIOS!

If the wrong hard drive is selected in the BIOS, you’ll need to reset it and set the correct one as the default boot drive.

To do this, access your BIOS setup during the booting process by pressing [Delete] or [F2], then use the option to reset BIOS to default settings.

If that doesn’t help, check which hard drives are listed in the BIOS and make sure that your PC is trying to boot from the right one. If there’s an issue, you may need to enter custom parameters for your hard drive manually; consult with your manufacturer’s specifications for these details.

Additionally, sometimes setting your system hard drive as default can fix issues with graphical boot menus.

After making changes in BIOS settings, save them (usually with F10) and restart your PC.

Windows Boot Loader Has Some Issues

You need to repair the Windows boot loader as it is not working properly.

To do this, you must start your computer from a Windows installation DVD or a bootable USB drive containing the Windows installation files.

From the installer’s Start menu, choose “Repair your computer” and select “Troubleshoot” on the next page.

The Troubleshooting window will offer various options to restore your PC to factory settings, but these should only be used as a last resort if all other repair methods have failed.

Run it until completion and then choose Restart in the repair options once done.

Next Step: If Startup Repair does not solve the “reboot and select proper boot device” problem

If the Startup Repair doesn’t fix your ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ issue, you can try writing a new boot sector to your hard drive.

You’ll need to boot from a Windows installation DVD.

Select your language and choose “Repair your computer” on the next page of the installer. Then, go to “Choose an Option” -> “Troubleshoot” -> “Advanced Options” -> “Command Prompt.’

Here, enter the command: bootrec /fixmbr. This writes a new master boot record to the hard drive.

Next, type: bootrec /fixboot. This writes a new boot sector in place of any old versions of Windows that may have overwritten it.

Exit Command Prompt and restart from your hard drive, not from the DVD. With any luck, this should solve the problem!

Hard drive has a hardware error / is on it’s way out

To diagnose a hardware error on your hard drive, follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect the SATA cable from the hard drive and motherboard.
  2. Clean the contacts with a lint-free alcohol wipe.
  3. Reconnect the cable and reboot the PC.
  4. If the issue persists, try using another SATA cable.
  5. If necessary, remove the hard drive while the PC is turned off and try it in another computer.
  6. Once installed as a second drive, set the boot order in BIOS to continue booting from the functioning Windows system hard drive.
  7. When Windows starts up, check if its file system is still recognized by the operating system.
  8. Right-click the drive’s properties and select “Tools,” then click “Check” to run scans, including recovery of bad sectors.
  9. Back up as much data as possible before using the drive for further important data storage, as other sectors may fail in the future due to hardware defects.
  10. If repairs don’t resolve the issue, run Command Prompt as an administrator and use the chkdsk command for repair attempts.
  11. After running chkdsk, perform data backups again for safety measures

Other Fixes You Could Try:

1. Disable Legacy Boot

o do this, start your computer and enter the BIOS (F2, DEL, or F12). Look around for ‘Legacy Boot Options’ which can be found in either the Advanced tab or Security tab. If you don’t find it right away, just click through each tab until it appears. Once you’ve located it, disable the option and save the changes made to your BIOS settings.

Afterwards, restart your computer and see if that solved the issue.

If Legacy Boot is active within UEFI then you may run into an error message saying ‘Reboot and select proper boot device’.

Thankfully disabling Legacy Boot should resolve this problem so you can go about using your computer normally again!

2. Set Correct Partition Active

Ok, you’ve now disabled legacy boot. Fantastic!

Now it’s time to set the correct partition active for your system. This is especially important if you’re running a Legacy BIOS setup.

The “active” partition is basically what your computer looks for when it starts up. To ensure that it finds the right one, use diskpart in Command Prompt to make sure the correct partition is marked as “active” on your hard drive. Here’s how:

1) Enter “diskpart” into Command Prompt and press enter.
2) Type “list disk” and press enter to show all available disks on your PC.
3) Select the disk by typing “select disk #” (where ‘#’ represents the number of the disk). Press enter after this command.
4) Enter “list partition” and press enter to list all partitions within this disk.
5) Type in “select partition #” (where ‘#’ stands for the number of the partition). Press enter after entering this command.
6) Type in ‘active’ and hit Enter—this will mark this specific partition as active on your hard drive, thus ensuring that Windows starts up from here when you start up your computer again.
7) Lastly type in exit and press Enter twice—you’ll be back at CMD prompt where you started from—and you’re done!

3. For Legacy Users: Rebuild MBR

If you’re running a Legacy BIOS setup, you’ll want to rebuild your MBR to make sure everything’s running smoothly.

Rebuilding the MBR involves using a bootable disc or flash drive and following some simple steps.

It is important to note that rebuilding the MBR erases any existing partition table information on the disk, so be sure to back up any data that you still need before proceeding. You’ll also need access to an external device with an operating system installed on it.

Once you have all of your materials ready, begin by inserting the bootable media into your computer and restarting it. When prompted, choose ‘MBR Rebuild’ from the menu or option list. If no such option appears, select ‘Command Prompt’. From there, type in ‘bootrec /fixmbr’ followed by pressing Enter on your keyboard. The process should take only a few minutes and will create a new Master Boot Record (MBR) for your system.

Once complete, safely remove the media from your computer and reboot as normal. Rebuilding the MBR is an essential step if you are experiencing issues related to booting up properly in Legacy BIOS systems. 

4. Set BIOS To Defaults

On most motherboards, this is labeled as ‘Load Optimized Defaults,’ ‘Get Default Values,’ or ‘Load Optimal Defaults.’ This will reset all of your BIOS settings back to the manufacturer’s recommended values, which should improve performance without compromising stability.

Keep in mind that if none of these solutions work, then it’s likely that Windows boot files or the system itself has been corrupted. 

5. Fix Windows Boot Files

To fix your Windows boot files, you can try running the commands in Command Prompt.

For Legacy BIOS users:

  1. Type ‘Bootrec /fixmbr’ and press Enter. This will overwrite any existing Master Boot Record (MBR) on your system.
  2. Type ‘Bootrec /fixboot’ and press Enter to write a new boot sector to the system partition.
  3. Type ‘Bootrec /rebuildBCD’ and press Enter to rebuild the BCD store.

For UEFI users:

  1. Type ‘bcdboot C:windows’ and press Enter.

Once you have entered all of these commands successfully, quit from Command Prompt and restart your PC.

If it still says ‘reboot and select proper device’ when you turn it back on, it means that you’ll need to reinstall Windows from scratch in order for it to work properly again.

6. Restore lost EFI partion

Restoring a lost EFI partition can help solve the issue of getting an error during startup. To do this, you’ll need a Windows 10 installation media.

  1. Boot the computer from the installation media.
  2. Press Shift + F10 or choose the correct language > Repair your Computer > Troubleshoot > Command Prompt.
  3. Type ‘diskpart’ and then ‘list disk’ to select the disk with Windows.
  4. Next, type ‘Diskpart list volumes’ followed by ‘list volume’ to find out which volume letter Windows is installed on.
  5. Use the command ‘bcdboot e:windows’ to copy the boot files onto this partition.
  6. Restart your computer.

This process should resolve any boot-related issues you’re having with your system.

7. Reinstall Windows 10/8/7

If you’ve tried all the other solutions and still have the reboot and select proper boot device errors, your last option is to reinstall Windows 10/8/7.

This will completely wipe your system and start fresh with a new installation of the Operating System, but it should remove any errors related to booting up.

To do this, you’ll first need to create a bootable USB or DVD drive that contains your Windows Installation media.

Then, insert the media into your computer and restart it. When you see the boot options menu, choose the option to install from disc or USB drive.

After this, follow on-screen instructions until you reach a point where you can indicate which drive or partition should be used for installation purposes.

Conclusion

If you’ve tried all the fixes above and still can’t get your computer to boot, it’s possible that there is an issue with your hard drive.

You should connect it to another computer as a secondary drive and see if you can access the files.

If not, then the hard drive may need to be replaced.

Whatever the cause of your ‘reboot and select proper boot device’ error, don’t panic – with some troubleshooting, you’ll be back up and running in no time!

Author:
I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...