Hard Drive Not Detected error on a Dell PC

Hard Drive Not Detected error on a Dell PC

This article provides information on how to identify and resolve an issue with onscreen Hard Drive errors during starting your PC.

Table of Contents:

  1. Is your Dell PC giving an onscreen Hard Drive error when you start it up?
  2. Initial Troubleshooting
  3. Physical Troubleshooting
  4. Resolution
  5. External HDD/Storage Drives
  6. Informational Videos

Is your PC giving an onscreen Hard Drive error on start it up?

There are several reasons why a PC will report that the Operating System or Hard Drive cannot be detected on start up. Some of these issues can be resolved without replacing parts and some will require you to narrow down the faulty part before taking this further.

If there are any other issues with the machine, please troubleshoot those faults before following this guide.

Back to Top

Initial Troubleshooting

The first question would normally be what type of error are you getting when the PC starts up? There are several it could be, I've listed them below. However the initial troubleshooting for any Hard Drive is going to be identical. If there is any damage to the system it will not be considered to be In Warranty, unless you have Accidental Damage Cover in addition to your standard warranty. If there is no damage then please proceed to the first question in the next section.

Hard Drive not Detected
No Boot Device Found
No Boot Partition Found
Data error Reading Drive
Seek error - Sector not found
Missing Operating System
Drive not Ready
Blank screen with flashing Cursor
Hard Disk Drive Failure
Primary Hard Disk Failure

Most (or all) Dell systems come with built in PSA diagnostics. You can boot to them by tapping on <F12> at the Dell splash screen and choosing diagnostics from the boot once menu. Do the diagnostics run?

Boot to the BIOS by tapping on <F2> at the Dell splash screen. Go to the System information or Drives section and see if the Hard Drive is detected in the BIOS and if its reported as the correct size?

Back to Top

Physical Troubleshooting

Reseat the Hard Drive. Does the issue continue?

  • Yes, go to step 2.
  • No, Your issue is resolved.

Remove the Hard Drive from the System and attempt to boot to either the BIOS or the diagnostics again with no Hard Drive installed?

  • You can boot to both the BIOS and the diagnostics with the Hard Drive removed. Go to the fifth step in the last section.
  • You cannot boot to either the BIOS or the diagnostics with the Hard Drive removed. Go to the second step in the last section.
  • If possible two way swap the Hard Drive with the Hard Drive from another identical system. Does the issue follow the original Hard Drive to the known good working system or does the issue stay with the original machine with the known good working Hard Drive installed?
    • If the issue follows the Hard Drive then go to the fifth step in the last section.
    • If the issue stays with the system then go to the second step in the last section.
    • If it isn't possible to swap the Hard Drive between machines and your system only has one Hard Drive, then it will depend on whether your system is a desktop or notebook for the next step.
      • If it is a desktop system I would recommend swapping the power and data cables from the back of the Optical Drive to the back of your Hard Drive and try booting once more. If the system boots then you will want to test the original power and data cable individually to determine if the fault is with a particular cable, a particular port on your Motherboard or with the Hard Drive. Once you have identified the faulty part go to the fifth step in the last section.
      • If it is a notebook system there will usually only be one connector or cable. If reseating the drive has not had any effect you will need to go to the fifth step in the last section.
Note: You can find a step by step guide to removing and reseating parts for your particular model or system in your User Guide. You can get this with your Service Tag at the Dell Support Site.

Back to Top


Go to the guide below to continue troubleshooting with the Hard Drive Error Code.

If the issue is with the System or Operating System and not the Hard Drive please read the article below for a guide on No Boot issues.

If your System is making an abnormal noise, then please read the article below on identifying the noise.

If you have RAID configured on your system, then please read this article on troubleshooting a RAID array.

Is your System still in warranty?

  • If the answer is YES, the system is still in warranty you will need to contact your Technical support to log a service call with your troubleshooting at this point.
  • If the answer is NO, your system is out of warranty you can still contact your Technical support for a quote for how much a chargeable repair will cost. Alternatively you can source a Hard Drive and fit the part yourself.
  • A general guide to Hard Drives can be found on the link below. It includes Instructions on how to view your manual online and has links to other articles on further Hard Drive issues if required. If none of these guides resolves your issue then please contact your Technical Support for further help.

Back to Top

External HDD/Storage Drives

There are essentially two types of external HDD/Storage drives in common use, both of which use either a USB or eSATA cable or connector to connect to your system:

  • The external drive takes power from your system

  • The external drive supplies its own power from a separate power adapter

Note: The eSATA connector is not widely used by the majority of mainstream products. If you want to know more about eSATA and its troubleshooting, please check out the following article:

Any external HDD USB Device is considered a peripheral device and works the same way as any other external USB device. Please read and use the following article to troubleshoot your USB device:

Note: A Dell external HDD comes with a standard 1 year warranty and does not carry the warranty of a Dell PC. Most external HDD's are manufactured by third party companies and the warranty for the device remains with that particular company. If the fault is confirmed as being with a third party drive, you will need to contact the manufacturer.

Back to Top

Informational Videos

Troubleshooting your Hard Drive video (YouTube) - 2:19

Hard Drive not detected video (YouTube) - 1:42

If you require further assistance, please contact Technical Support.
Contact Us

Article ID: SLN155163

Last Date Modified: 09/21/2019 12:43 AM

Rate this article

Easy to understand
Was this article helpful?
Yes No
Send us feedback
Comments cannot contain these special characters: <>()\
Sorry, our feedback system is currently down. Please try again later.

Thank you for your feedback.