System keeps defaulting to wrong drive for start-up.

motionman

Active Member
I've recently added an SSD to my system which has transformed speeds and solved my sound distortion issues. I've put my OS (Windows 10 Home 64bit) and programmes on the SSD and my data on my old HDD.

However, a start-up issue has cropped up, which is causing problems, particularly as I'm also hoping to be able to wake up my PC remotely using wake-up on LAN. The issue is that the system keeps wanting to choose my old HDD drive to find the OS and not my new SSD. What I've tried:

  • Selected the SSD in the BIOS to boot from. If I go into the boot menu (F7), I always find that my SSD is not the first option so I correct this but it doesn't stick. However, pressing enter does allow me to then boot the PC
  • Looked in the BIOS in the settings menu (delete key) > boot menu and found my SSD in the correct position!
Once my PC has shut down and I try to boot it again, I go through the blue screen cycle of automatic repair > diagnosing > automatic repair failed and I'm back into delving into the BIOS.

I guess that I'm missing something when I try and alter the BIOS settings? Any help would be great!
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
What's actually happening?

Even if your PC was checking your hard drive for a boot loader first, if it didn't find one it'd just go on to the next device in the list and the only effect would be that bootup took a fraction of a second longer.

You may have some remnants of the GPT system partition and windows boot load on the hard drive. Do you get the automatic repair screen coming up if you disconnect the SSD?
 

motionman

Active Member
Thanks for the reply. OK, so it should search and find a drive that it can boot from? Oddly, it an issue that has arisen sometime after I put the SSD in. It was fine to start with.

When you say "disconnect", I guess the only way to do this is to open the case and pull out the power and SATA cables?
 

motionman

Active Member
...sorry, another question:

Taking the SSD out of the system will obviously remove the OS. Is the "automatic repair" cycle generated from the BIOS? I should still expect to see this? Thanks again.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Taking the SSD out of the system will obviously remove the OS. Is the "automatic repair" cycle generated from the BIOS? I should still expect to see this? Thanks again.

With the mention of a blue colour scheme I was assuming you were talking about the Windows one with a font and spacing design similar to Windows Settings.

Modern BIOS systems are getting more advanced so I guess there could be some sort of self-repair system involving diagnosis instead of just a simple reset. Is it branded with your system or motherboard manufacturer's logo?

Oddly, it an issue that has arisen sometime after I put the SSD in. It was fine to start with.

Then what indications do you have that it's the hard drive that's the issue and it's not the SSD install which is failing to boot properly?

Thanks for the reply. OK, so it should search and find a drive that it can boot from?

Well, a drive that has appropriate data for it to hand over control to the software on the drive. This is a very early stage of the overall boot process and it won't do anything if it goes wrong after that.

When you say "disconnect", I guess the only way to do this is to open the case and pull out the power and SATA cables?

You could try checking the BIOS settings to see if that particular SATA socket can be disabled separately but it's so little work to open most cases it's usually quickest just to unplug.


I would definitely try the system with just the SSD and just the hard drive and see what results you get.

It might also be worth checking the Windows logs to see if the installation on the SSD records anything during a failed startup - that'll tell you it was that install which was trying to start.
 

motionman

Active Member
Thanks for your time in replying, it is appreciated.

To work through your comments:

  • Sorry for the confusion about blue screens. The "automatic repair" screen is the one that I am presented with when I power up and soon after the chance to go to the BIOS throughF7 or the delete key. The blue screen and its "automatic repair" message was new to me but it has become very familiar to me now! Unfortunately, it doesn't do any repairs for me. It isn't branded in any way so I'm not sure where it has come from. A Windows update maybe or the SSD software that I downloaded. I'm guessing.
  • As for an indication that it's the HDD at fault, then I have none. All I know is that my system is failing to find the drive that I put the OS on, which is the new SSD. I've observed that this issue did not arise directly after I installed the SSD but some weeks afterwards.
  • Well, a drive that has appropriate data for it to hand over control to the software on the drive. This is a very early stage of the overall boot process and it won't do anything if it goes wrong after that.
    The hand over to the "automatic repair" cycle happens directly after the chance to press F7 or the delete key so it's early on in the process.
  • You could try checking the BIOS settings to see if that particular SATA socket can be disabled separately but it's so little work to open most cases it's usually quickest just to unplug.
    I'll have a poke around in the BIOS first as my PC is crammed in a corner and a struggle to pull out!
  • I would definitely try the system with just the SSD and just the hard drive and see what results you get.
    I'll give this a go and report back.
  • It might also be worth checking the Windows logs to see if the installation on the SSD records anything during a failed startup - that'll tell you it was that install which was trying to start.
    Sorry but can I ask, which types of logs will give this info?
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Windows logs are in event viewer. No specific log, just see if there's anything showing up for the time you tried starting it.

There is a Windows recovery system that includes a screen titled 'Automatic repair' which is presented on a blue background for Windows 10 so without a photograph I'll assume that's what you're seeing. There are plenty of images of it online if you want to double check.

So the symptoms you have are
1. The PC goes into the Windows recovery routine every time you start it up normally. Does this happen just on cold boots when it's been off for a while? What happens if you use the restart option? What about if you shut down and then immediately start up again?

2. Using the boot device selection menu and selecting the drive works fine. Does this always work, even if you do it before the system has had an attempt at starting up?
 

DavidG1

Active Member
When you cloned the HDD to the SSD, did you completely wipe the HDD afterwards or did you simply use “as is“ as a data drive. If so it would still have a boot partition and cause windows some confusion about which drive to boot from. If you temporarily remove the HDD and your boot problems go away this would support this theory. If so backup your data files, completely wipe the HDD and then restore your data files.
other things to consider:
Check that the SSD is in first SATA header on the motherboard - they are usually labelled SATA 1-4 or SATA 0-3, so either SATA 1 or SATA 0. Then check in the BIOS that the SSD is in the 1st in the Boot order and save that as default. If possible remove any other entries below this. Also post screen shots of the BIOS boot screens, and disk management screens (with the HDD)
 
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motionman

Active Member
OK so I've had a go at starting the PC with alternate SSD and HDD disconnected and here is what happened:

With SSD Disconnected:
  1. On power-up, the "Automatic Repair" cycle starts. This does not result in a repair.
  2. By pressing F7 at the initial power-up and accessing the boot menu, the SSD with the OS on it is not available.
  3. It is not possible to boot the PC.
With HDD Disconnected:
  1. The Windows blue "four squares" appear and the software heads for the automatic repair cycle again but this does not result in a repair.
  2. By pressing F7 at the initial power-up and accessing the boot menu, the SSD can be selected and this results in a successful boot to Windows.
I opened the Windows logs but I don't really understand what I'm looking for there,
 

motionman

Active Member
OK so here is some more info:

There is a Windows recovery system that includes a screen titled 'Automatic repair' which is presented on a blue background for Windows 10 so without a photograph I'll assume that's what you're seeing. There are plenty of images of it online if you want to double check.
Yes, I checked on Google Images and that's what it is. A new phenomenon has just occurred for the last few start-ups I've tried in that the automatic repair has been replaced by my Acronis backup software, which is asking to do a backup (I didn't run one.) I have included references to this in my descriptions below.

So the symptoms you have are
1. The PC goes into the Windows recovery routine every time you start it up normally. Does this happen just on cold boots when it's been off for a while? What happens if you use the restart option? What about if you shut down and then immediately start up again?
Yes, it goes into recovery mode every time, although this has been replaced by my Acronis backup software. It happens on cold boots, restarts, and immediate restarts.

2. Using the boot device selection menu and selecting the drive works fine. Does this always work, even if you do it before the system has had an attempt at starting up?
Yes, using the SSD drive from the boot menu always works. It is actually the only way that I can successfully boot up. If left to its own devices the system at one time went to the automatic repair but now seems to like my Acronis software.

When you cloned the HDD to the SSD, did you completely wipe the HDD afterwards or did you simply use “as is“ as a data drive. If so it would still have a boot partition and cause windows some confusion about which drive to boot from. If you temporarily remove the HDD and your boot problems go away this would support this theory. If so backup your data files, completely wipe the HDD and then restore your data files.
I used the 'format' option to wipe my old HDD before copying it across my data files. Taking out the HDD from the system doesn't solve the issue, unfortunately. I haven't tried the re-wipe of my HDD yet.
other things to consider:
Check that the SSD is in first SATA header on the motherboard - they are usually labelled SATA 1-4 or SATA 0-3, so either SATA 1 or SATA 0. Then check in the BIOS that the SSD is in the 1st in the Boot order and save that as default. If possible remove any other entries below
I'll have to check on the SATA header numbering and report again. A magnifying glass will help me! I'll also see if I can remove the entries below later.

Also post screen shots of the BIOS boot screens, and disk management screens (with the HDD)
Phone pictures of the BIOS attached, hopefully. I think my 10-year-old motherboard doesn't have the BIOS screenshot to memory stick facility.
 

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motionman

Active Member
Just to confirm that the SATA header numbering is SATA 1 = SSD and SATA 2 = HDD.

I have also made some changes, which I hoped might solve the problem soo some revised phone shots are attached.
 

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DavidG1

Active Member
I would download the Crucial Executive toolbox to check the SSD for errors.
I would also disable Acronis temporarily to remove that from the equation. If the SSD is good your next options would be
1) Reset the BIOS to defaults, check and rearrange the boot order as before and try again. If no better
2) Repair the bootloader of the SSD, google repair bootloader windows 10 for more information
3) Take it to a tech for them to see why windows is not booting correctly (and windows cannot repair it)
David
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
OK so I've had a go at starting the PC with alternate SSD and HDD disconnected and here is what happened:

With SSD Disconnected:
  1. On power-up, the "Automatic Repair" cycle starts. This does not result in a repair.
  2. By pressing F7 at the initial power-up and accessing the boot menu, the SSD with the OS on it is not available.
  3. It is not possible to boot the PC.
With HDD Disconnected:
  1. The Windows blue "four squares" appear and the software heads for the automatic repair cycle again but this does not result in a repair.
  2. By pressing F7 at the initial power-up and accessing the boot menu, the SSD can be selected and this results in a successful boot to Windows.
I opened the Windows logs but I don't really understand what I'm looking for there,

It sounds like the hard drive isn't correctly configured in addition to the issue you're having with the SSD. When you formatted it did you wipe the drive (e.g. diskpart clean) or just reformat the primary partition?

I see you have lots of other potentially bootable drives connected so it might be worth disconnecting those as well as the HDD when troubleshooting. Don't worry about the optical drive if it's empty, but certainly the USB ones. Just to make sure that the behaviour you're seeing is purely the SSD.

If you're not seeing a different drive booting I am scratching my head as to why the SSD would reliably fail every time normally but run from the boot menu. It could have been something like the power on sequence for the drive has grown too long but you'd expect that to show up on cold boots first. It may well be worth checking to see if the manufacturer software flags up any errors.

It's probably not a compatibility quirk if it used to work as it's unlikely the BIOS or SSD firmware will have been updated without you actively having done it.

I opened the Windows logs but I don't really understand what I'm looking for there,

If you unsuccessfully booted at 12:53pm then restarted and booted successfully a couple of minutes later I'd be looking in the logs for any messages from 12:53pm as that'll show it was this installation of windows that was trying to run.
 

motionman

Active Member
Thanks again for the replies with suggestions.

1) Reset the BIOS to defaults, check and rearrange the boot order as before and try again. If no better
Tried this but it still wouldn't boot.

It sounds like the hard drive isn't correctly configured in addition to the issue you're having with the SSD. When you formatted it did you wipe the drive (e.g. diskpart clean) or just reformat the primary partition?
I formatted it and you're probably right it was the primary partition only. There was something called "system reserved" which showed as another drive in explorer?

I see you have lots of other potentially bootable drives connected so it might be worth disconnecting those as well as the HDD when troubleshooting. Don't worry about the optical drive if it's empty, but certainly the USB ones. Just to make sure that the behaviour you're seeing is purely the SSD.
Tried this (except the HDD, which I had tried disconnecting earlier) and yes, the problem persisted.

3) Take it to a tech for them to see why windows is not booting correctly (and windows cannot repair it)
David
I phoned our local tech who just said to re-load Windows 10. It took ages but the problem has gone away. Will this have overwritten things like any faults in the boot order? I wanted to crack this one before returning to wake up on LAN before buying any powerline gear.

All the advice has been great. Thanks again.
 

DavidG1

Active Member
I phoned our local tech who just said to re-load Windows 10. It took ages but the problem has gone away. Will this have overwritten things like any faults in the boot order
Reloading windows would have created a new bootable partition. Hopefully the problem has been solved
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
I phoned our local tech who just said to re-load Windows 10. It took ages but the problem has gone away. Will this have overwritten things like any faults in the boot order?

It wouldn't have touched the BIOS settings so no, although I suspect you didn't have any faults there in the first place.

It sounds like the normal startup and the boot menu are continuing the boot process in slightly different ways and for whatever reason one of them caused the problem with your install. I don't know enough of the technical details to say whether that's a quirk of your particular motherboard but it is an unusual fault you had.
 

DaveD20

Standard Member
It was probably your bootmgr on the system partition, did you clone the partition from your HDD to your SSD drive in which case it would still point to the HDD system partition which you may have deleted and tried to boot from it. Windows reinstall corrects the bootmgr to point to the correct drive. If you google bootmgr it shows how to do a repair in case it ever happens again.?
 

motionman

Active Member
Thanks, both for your replies and analysis.

Yes, I cloned my HDD to the new SSD and then copied back data files to my HDD after formatting it and then deleted them from my SSD. So I guess that I did clone the partition? With my lack of understanding, I can see how I might have confused the system. What's the "System Reserved" drive that is on Explorer? Is that part of the way the machine boots?
 

DaveD20

Standard Member
The system partition is usually 100mb and contains bootmgr and other the startup files for initial boot after the bios and before windows kicks in.
 

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