Troubleshooting ‘inaccessible boot device error’ in Windows 10

How’s your day going? If it started with you staring at the Blue Screen of Death, it’s probably not going well. But if your BSOD was caused by “inaccessible boot device,” we may be able to help.
The inaccessible boot device error is unfortunately common, one that has occurred across a range of Windows operating systems, including XP, 8/8.1, and Windows 10. There can be multiple reasons for this error.

In this error, the system automatically shuts itself down to protect data from possibly getting corrupted. Like in all the other BSOD errors, inaccessible boot device error also results in a blue screen with an error message. Generally, this error indicates that the OS has lost access to the system’s data or boot partitions during the startup.

Reasons for inaccessible boot device error:

  • Corrupted or misconfigured device drivers.
  • Driver conflicts between the hardware.
  • Corrupted Windows registry files.
  • Corrupted system data.
  • Problems in the BIOS.
  • Damaged hardware (RAM or hard disk).
  • Bad or loosely connected data cables within the system.
  • Faulty or interrupted OS upgradation.

Troubleshooting inaccessible boot device error

Enter Safe Mode

This is the first and foremost step you need to do to get access to your system and to deal with the error. For this tutorial, we are using a Windows 10-based system. We usually boot windows in Safe Mode when we need to troubleshoot any issue. In Safe Mode, Windows runs with minimal configuration settings while disabling all the startup programs, and runs on the least set of hardware drivers that are just enough to load the OS. So, if you encounter this error, enter Safe Mode to proceed further in solving the issue.

Steps to enter into the Safe Mode

1. Allow your PC to restart while it boots until it displays the “Automatic Repair screen.”

Inaccessible boot device error

2. Now select “Troubleshoot” & “Advanced options” & “Startup Settings”

Inaccessible boot device error

3. Now hit “Restart” from the Startup settings screen

4. After the system restarts, you’ll be landing on a screen consisting of a list of startup options. Hit F5 to enter Safe Mode with networking enabled.

Inaccessible boot device error

In many cases, once you’ve entered Safe Mode, a normal system restart will automatically fix the issue of inaccessible boot device error. Just in case it doesn’t work, proceed with the following steps to update/uninstall corrupted device drivers.

Updating your device drivers:

Device drivers play a very important role in running your operating system. They allow the OS to utilize the device’ hardware for the functioning of the system. And as mentioned earlier, corrupted or misconfigured device drivers might be a possible reason for inaccessible boot device error.

To update your device drivers, follow these steps

1. Right click on “my computer” and click on “manage” and navigate to “Device Manager.” You’ll be taken to the Device Manager screen where you’ll see a list of all devices.

Inaccessible boot device error

2. In the list, devices that may be giving you trouble will be marked with a small yellow triangle. Right click on the device’s driver and click on update driver software option. This will update your existing driver software to the latest version.

Inaccessible boot device error

It’s not a bad idea to try updating all your device drivers one after the other, even ones that do not seem to be causing a problem. After it’s done, restart the computer. In many cases, updating the device drivers fixes the issue.

Removing the new installed hardware or software

Instead of updating all the device drivers, try updating the devices that were recently installed. Often, newly installed device driver software turns out to be the reason for inaccessible boot device error because it was possibly not installed properly. In case you have recently updated or installed any graphic card drivers, then try uninstalling or reinstalling them.

Also, try removing any newly installed hardware from the system, as newly installed hardware can sometimes be a reason for this error. To check if your latest hardware is the cause of the error, simply uninstall it and restart your system. If it boots fine, then that hardware is the possible cause of error.

Enable AHCI Mode

As mentioned earlier, inaccessible boot device might also be caused by problems in the BIOS. This can often be fixed by enabling the AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) mode from the BIOS.

To boot into BIOS and enable AHCI mode, follow these steps

1. To access BIOS in Windows 10, click on the Start button and go to “settings.”

Inaccessible boot device error

2. In the settings screen click on “Update & security”

3. Click on the “Recovery option” from the list and select “Restart Now” under the “Advanced startup” option

4. Now click on “Troubleshoot” and select “Advanced options”

Inaccessible boot device error

5. In advanced options, click “UEFI Firmware Settings” and click on “Restart”

Inaccessible boot device error

6. Now your system will restart in the BIOS menu

7. Now once you’re in the BIOS menu, go to your SATA mode settings and enable AHCI mode.

8. Save the changes and restart your PC.

Note: BIOS menus differ from system to system based on the manufacturer or motherboard used. You could always use the user manual provided with your system to aid you in the process.

Enabling AHCI may not only solve the inaccessible boot device error but can also improve your system’s responsiveness, data-transfer rate, and the number of IO per second, especially if you have a solid state drive.

Check for loosely connected cables in the system

Although it might sound wacky, some users reported that loosely connected cables caused their inaccessible boot device error. Therefore, power off and unplug your PC from power and open its case to check whether all the cables connecting the internal hardware such as the motherboard, RAM, and hard disk are properly connected.

Reset your PC

If nothing mentioned above works, then try resetting your Windows system to get the things working. To reset your Windows 10 PC, follow these steps:

1. Navigate to settings and click on “Update &Security”

2. Click “Recovery option” on the left pane and click on “Get Started” under the “Reset” This PC menu.

Inaccessible boot device error

3. You can choose from either “Keep my files” or “Remove everything.” “Remove everything” does what it says: all your files and apps will be deleted. If you select “keep my files,” your documents will be retained. But, be aware, your applications will be deleted and you will have to reinstall all of them. In either option, all of your configurations will be reverted to the default settings.
Inaccessible boot device error

4. Hit “Next” and click on the “Reset” button if prompted

5. Follow the steps as directed and wait till the restart process is completed. This process might take several minutes based on the data stored in the system.

By now, we hope that the annoying inaccessible boot device error is fixed. However, if it still persists, you need to check for the faulty hardware in the system. Finding a faulty component can be tricky and can go really wrong if not done properly. We’d advise you to get your PC repaired by an expert in this case.

The inaccessible boot device is not just annoying, it might be a sign of real trouble on your system. But in most cases, this error can be easily fixed by restarting your PC after entering Safe Mode or by simply updating/uninstalling your device drivers.

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