My Laptop's Hard Drive Won't Turn On or Work

by Dan Stone

The "No Bootable Device" and "Operating System Not Found" errors are often the first sign a laptop's hard drive has failed. However, there's still the possibility that there's a bad connection or configuration that's keeping the computer from being able to access the hard drive. Mechanical hard drives have one of the highest component failure rates in a laptop computer because the device has moving components and is constantly under computer use. Additionally, fact that you're likely to move your laptop around a lot -- in contrast to a stationary desktop computer -- increases the chances of that the drive will become damaged from jostling or jarring.

Clicking

The dreaded "click of death" signifies the end for a mechanical hard drive. If you turn on the laptop and hear the hard drive making a loud clicking noise over the system fans, you've got a dead hard drive. The laptop will still be able to load the operating system in the early stages of failure, but if the hard drive clicks and the laptop can't recognize the device, the hard drive is done for. If the laptop has a solid-state drive, the "click of death" does not apply because it has no moving parts.

BIOS Recognition

If you don't hear any strange noises coming from the hard drive, there could be a problem with the Basic Input-Output System being unable to recognize the device. The BIOS is the program that configures the computer when you turn it on and prepares it to load the operating system. If you reset the BIOS to its factory settings -- which won't delete your data -- it should clear up any configuration issues that prevent it from accessing the hard drive. The startup splash screen may tell you which button to press on boot to enter BIOS; if it doesn't, you can usually enter by pressing F1, F2, F8, Esc or Del. Once in BIOS, the screen will have instructions on how to restore factory settings.

Loose Connection

If BIOS can't recognize the hard drive, the drive may have a connection issue that's keeping it from connecting with the hard drive or receiving power. The hard drive should be firmly installed in the hard-drive bay: you shouldn't be able to wiggle it at all. If the drive feels loose, remove it from the laptop and reconnect it, checking to make sure the connection locks into place and all screws are firmly secured. Note that opening up your laptop case might void any warranty you still have on the device.

Hardware Failure

The laptop may have hardware failure if it can't see a correctly installed and configured hard drive. There are two parts that could be at fault: the motherboard or the hard drive itself. If you remove the hard drive, install a new hard drive and the new hard drive doesn't work, the laptop likely has a bad motherboard chipset. If the hard drive won't work in another computer or another hard drive works in the laptop, the hard drive likely has electronic failure and should be replaced.

About the Author

Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images