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I've experienced some problems with the booting of my laptop and I'm now unable to boot from the harddisk. In particular when booting I get this error message:

No bootable device -- insert boot disk and press any key

How can I check whether my harddisk is completely broken(and thus should be replaced) or if there is some "software" problem preventing the boot?

Note that booting from a Live USB I can see the partitions on the disk via:

sudo fdisk -l

Which make me think that the harddisk is not completely broken.

I must also mention that some times(seldomly) I could see some I/O disk errors when running Linux, and this make me think that, probably, the harddisk has always been a bit "damaged"

This is the full story of what happened and what I did:

I have an Acer Aspire 5742G which had installed Kubuntu 12.04.2 and Windows7 in dualboot. The windows installation often gave problems. About 80% of the times I booted windows the computer, on subsequent boots, would simply keep rebooting(something really similar to this question).

Yesterday I booted on windows and the computer started rebooting. After a forced shutdown the laptop started showing this error message:

No bootable device -- insert boot disk and press any key

I tried to recover grub multiple times, I also reinstalled kubuntu, finally I wiped all the previous installations and installed kubuntu on the whole disk, but nothing changed.

I then tried to recover the windows installation using the recovery disks, but right after starting the recovery I got this error message:

Restore Failed--Error code 0x3ed (The volume does not contain a recognized file system. Please make sure that all required file system
drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted.) 

Searching on the net I found this post about the error and after doing:

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1

To wipe the MBR I was able to complete the recovery process.... to absolutely no results. When I boot I still get the No bootable device ... error.

share|improve this question
What kind of recovery disks are you using? Does it boot with BIOS/MBR or UEFI? BTW, if the hard disk have nothing important left, I would try to re-initializing the partition table. – Alvin Wong Apr 17 '13 at 8:25
@AlvinWong It uses BIOS/MBR. The recovery disks where the ones I created right after installation(I don't rememeber if it was through an Acer program or if from Windows 7 utilities...). I was able to save all important information of the hard disk and I already removed/recreated/formatted the partitions multiple times. – Bakuriu Apr 17 '13 at 9:56
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The smartctl utility from smartmontools can help you to check and test your hard drive.

You can check your hard drive SMART values using:

# smartctl -A /dev/sda


# smartctl -a /dev/sda

But more importantly, you can test your hard drive using:

# smartctl -t [short,long] /dev/sda

And check the results:

# smartctl -l selftest /dev/sda

You can also use the badblocks utility but be careful as you can easily wipe all your data from the drive.

share|improve this answer
The first command shows a table where I can see that attribute Reallocated_Sector_Ct is FAILING_NOW. Also the short test reports a status of Completed: unknown failure. I've just launched the long test to see a more verbose explanation, even though I guess the only option is to replace the HD... – Bakuriu Apr 17 '13 at 16:55

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