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Intermittent "No Boot Device Found" error on Dell Latitude E4310 with Windows XP

Posted on 2011-02-28
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
Have just bought my first batch of Dell Latitude E4310 laptops (25 of them).  Have created our standard enterprise desktop using Windows XP Pro SP3 with all the latest drivers from Dell for this model of laptop.  The laptops BIOS setting for hard drive mode is set to ATA (the only mode that will work with Windows XP).

The image has been deployed to all 25 laptops using Symantec Ghost in exactly the same way as every other PC/laptop in our organisation (around 500 in total).  However, these 25 laptops are all exhibiting the same intermittent fault.  On first powering on, a message is displayed saying "No Boot Device Found.  Press any key to reboot the machine".  If the machine is rebooted, it usually starts up fine.  The error only happens intermittently, and only around 10% of the time.

Any help would be much appreciated.  Dell's response is "install Windows 7", which isn't particularly helpful as we only support Windows XP Pro at the moment!

Many thanks
Paul

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Question by:Paul Huxham
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by:Jackie Man
ID: 34996454
How do you create the first image of HDD for the 25 laptops?
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by:Sommerblink
ID: 34996467
Well.
One thing I dislike about Dell is that they simply cannot maintain the same hardware specs for all components in their equipment.

I would take a look more closely at the parts sheet (go to Dell's site and punch in your service tag) and compare two (or more laptops) which work, verses two (or more) laptops which don't.

Its possible that there is a subtle hardware variation which is causing something to go awry.

How's the BIOS revisions, identical?

How about under Device Manager.. same thing.

There has to be something different between the working ones and the non-working ones, and you seem to have a large enough pool of both to possibly figure this one out.

Also, I'm assuming that reimaging the faulty laptop produces a similar output?
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by:edbedb
ID: 34996654
Windows 7 will not help this. That message would be displayed before the OS enters the picture.

The first thing to check is to make sure the hard drive is at the top of boot order.
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by:Paul Huxham
ID: 34996877
Sorry, to clarify, this batch of 25 laptops are the first batch of Latitude E4310's we've bought.  The rest of the firm's estate is made up of other Dell desktop and laptop models, not E4310's.

The problem is found on all of the E4310's, all the other PCs and laptops are all fine.  We don't have any E4310's that work correctly.  They all seem to exhibit the same issue, so I'm sure it's not just a one-off hardware fault with one laptop.

The images were created by installing Windows XP SP3, plus all the Dell drivers and our standard apps, then using SysPrep and Symantec Ghost to take a standard Ghost image which is then deployed onto all the E4310's.

EdBedb, you're right I'm sure, it's not an OS related fault as clearly the laptop or BIOS is having an issue recognising or reading the boot sector of the hard drive before the OS has chance to load.  I was hoping somebody else might have seen the same issue and may have a fix.

Many thanks
Paul
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by:Paul Huxham
ID: 34996886
.... also the to confirm, the hard drive is the only boot device in the BIOS, all other devices have been disabled.
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by:edbedb
ID: 34996909
In that case there is only one thing I can think of that might work. Try re-flashing the BIOS, even if it's with the same version.
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by:Jackie Man
ID: 34996926
So, the laptop has the symptom before you do the sysprep?
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by:Paul Huxham
ID: 34997036
I'll try reflashing the BIOS with the same version.

I didn't see the problem until after the SysPrep, but it's so intermittent, it's difficult to know whether the problem existed before the SysPrep or not!
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by:Jackie Man
ID: 34997139
Can you try to do a clean install of xp sp3 for the laptop to see when're the problem exists before sysprep?
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by:dbrunton
ID: 34999717
Check the BIOS and see if there are options to slow the boot process down.  There may be FastBoot options you can change.  Or let the machine check other devices first before the hard disk.  Or let the machine do a memory check.

See if slowing the boot process gives the machine more time to find the hard disk.
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by:nobus
ID: 35004927
did you ever replace a disk with another brand - to check?
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by:Paul Huxham
ID: 35005065
No, I haven't tried another disk.  On the basis that all 25 laptops are doing the same, I figured Dell aren't going to replace them all anyway even if I can prove another brand of disk works.

I'm going to create a new Windows XP Ghost image by changing the disk mode to the default AHCI and installing Windows XP with the ACHI drivers from scratch.  It's another days work, but seems like my only way forward.
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by:nobus
ID: 35006202
it is only for finding the problem...what you do with the solution is always your decision
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by:freemonkey
ID: 35060405
We're experiencing something quite similar. On WinXP, and with the same E4310 laptops but these have SSDs on them instead of HDDs. We have about 30 or so Dell laptops, slated to buy more and equip all with SSDs. About 12 of these laptops have SSDs and are being used by a test group. Only 2 of these are showing these intermittent problem. A reboot will get us back on but we have no clue what the reason is. All use the same image, but it isn't Ghosted. Would love to know if there was any sort of resolution that you may have found.
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Paul Huxham earned 0 total points
ID: 35068737
Hi Freemonkey

The issue seems to be that basically this model of laptop does not like running WinXP with the HDD set to ATA mode.  I don't know if the same BIOS options are available if you've got SSD's, but with a HDD the only way to install XP from the standard WinXP CD is to use ATA mode.

I managed to resolve the issue by setting the HDD mode back to the default "RAID on" mode, and installing WinXP by pressing F6 at the start of the XP install process and loading the correct (Dell) drivers for the HDD before the OS is installed.  An alternative method (the actual way I eventually did it) was to slipstream these drivers into the XP install CD.

Apparently, once XP is installed with the HDD in ATA mode, it's not possible to retrospectively install the drivers for the default "RAID on" mode, so you would need to do a new image from scratch.

Not sure how much of this is relevant to you with SSD's but let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers
Paul
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Author Closing Comment

by:Paul Huxham
ID: 35120573
I solved the problem myself in the end!
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