My PC runs Windows 8.1 on an SSD, and I have a HDD as a data drive as well.

On Friday night, I got home to my PC was sitting on the BIOS screen. I could immediately see that the HDD was no longer being recognized, and when I restarted the HDD was clearly making a clicking noise. It's an older drive and I have backups, so not the end of the world.

What didn't make sense was why the SSD wasn't booting. I disconnected the HDD, ensured that connections were all tighted, etc. but although the SSD drive was recognized, it wouldn't boot (no error messages about not finding a bootable device either, but I'm guessing this is a flaw in the BIOS).

I popped in the Windows 8.1 disk and did a repair, which fixed the problem, and Windows now boots normally.

My questions:

  1. What would cause a hard drive failing to affect another drive?
  2. My SSD is about three years old. Windows says it's health is 100%. Should I be considering replacing it based on this event?
  • 1
    when you said "it wouldn't boot", what actually happened?
    – Chin
    Aug 17 '15 at 19:09
  • It went straight to the BIOS screen. I would expect the error I have seen on other PCs, something like "no bootable drive found", but I did not get any errors. Aug 18 '15 at 13:02
  • 1
    If you had both the SSD and HHDD connected to the system while you installed Windows, the installer placed the system Reserved partition on the HDD. And when the HDD failed the System Reserved partition became inaccessible leaving your OS unbootable. The System Reserved partition holds the Windows boot loader and without the boot-loader the OS cannot boot. Running system repair you repaired the missing boot-loader. Aug 19 '15 at 14:24

Windows, since vista, by default use a separate partition to boot and to store the Windows system files.

On a clean windows installation you will have a "System Reserved" partition, 100MB in size, that will be shown as "System , Active" in Windows Disk Manager. This partition has no drive letter assigned.

The Windows partition (usually "C:" drive, that contains the folders "Windows" , "Program Files" "Users", etc) is shown as "Boot" (and generally also "Pagefile" and "Crash Dump")

(those terms are nonsense to me, the partition that Microsoft call "system" is actually the boot partition whereas the system is store on the partition that Microsoft call "boot")

It seems that in your case the "System" partition was on the mechanic drive.

And there's no need to replace you SSD, until you experience issue with it (but of course maintain a periodic backup...)


When HDD makes clicking noise it usually means failure..

Try changing boot order to SSD, or change UEFI to other mode and disable SecureBoot in your BIOS

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