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“Reboot and Select Proper Boot Device:” Troubleshooting and Tips

February 9, 2024

Your computer might present the following error message when failing to boot its operating system: 

“Reboot and Select proper boot device or insert boot media in selected boot device and press a key.”

This error message is fairly self explanatory: Your computer can’t find Windows (or whatever other operating system you’re running). There are three potential reasons for this:

  1. Your hard drive, solid state drive (SSD), or other boot device has failed. 
  2. The boot loader has failed due to corruption.
  3. The wrong boot device is selected in your UEFI/BIOS.

If the boot device has important data, we strongly recommend turning your computer off immediately. Operating a damaged storage device can cause permanent data loss — learn how hard drives can sustain platter damage following a head crash or other physical failure.

However, if you’ve recently changed your hardware configuration or updated your operating system, you may be able to address the “reboot and select proper boot device” error on your own. Below, we’ll take you through the process, step by step. provides free media evaluations, and we support all of our services with a no data, no charge guarantee. To schedule a free evaluation, call 1-800-237-4200 or submit a case online

First, review your UEFI/BIOS settings.

The “reboot and select proper boot device” most commonly occurs on older computers that use BIOS. It’s also common on UEFI systems that have CSM support. 

CSM support essentially allows computers with UEFI firmware to work with MBR (Master Boot Record)-partitioned disks. You can try disabling CSM support to see if the issue is resolved.

Be aware that you may need to reinstall your operating system after disabling CSM support. You should use a version of the OS that doesn’t require legacy BIOS support (so avoid “legacy” modes, particularly in Windows 10). 

Check the Boot Order

Your computer may also have an incorrect boot order for attached media. This is often the case if you’ve recently installed a new hard drive or SSD. 

The process for accessing UEFI/BIOS settings varies by motherboard, so consult the documentation that came with your computer. You can also pay attention to the boot screens, which usually contain some language like “press F12 for settings.” 

  • In the settings, make sure that the storage device that contains your operating system is the primary boot device. 
  • After changing the setting, make sure to save the changes. 
  • If the computer successfully restarts, but the problem reoccurs after a restart, there’s a good chance that the motherboard is causing the issue. 

Use recovery tools provided with your operating system

For BIOS devices, the boot loader is stored in the first sector of the hard drive (the MBR). If that area becomes corrupt, the device may not be recognizable as a boot device, and the computer cannot start the operating system. 

Recovery tools may help to address this problem (although the file corruption may indicate a serious issue with the hard drive’s health). A Windows recovery drive — assuming you’ve already created one — could help you repair your Windows installation via the Startup Repair function.

If your hard drive is damaged, replace it or seek professional assistance.

The “reboot and select proper boot device” error might indicate mechanical issues that prevent your hard drive (or SSD) from operating as expected. If that’s the case, you can simply replace the drive and reinstall your OS.

If you need data from the device, contact a qualified data recovery provider that utilizes certified cleanroom technology. Learn why cleanrooms are important for data recovery.

We also recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Keep the drive powered off. Do not attempt to troubleshoot or repair physical issues; operating a damaged drive may cause permanent data loss. 
  2. Make a list of any symptoms that could indicate hardware issue, including unusual noises (such as clicking sounds), slow operation prior to the boot failure, and any error messages (including the “reboot and select proper boot device” error) that accompanied the failure.
  3. Look for a data recovery provider that offers a no data, no charge guarantee. This ensures that you won’t pay if files are unrecoverable (and provides some peace of mind as your case progresses. provides free evaluations for hard drives and other data storage devices. With full-service laboratories at each location, we’re ready to help you regain access to important files. 

To get started, call 1-800-237-4200 or set up a case online.