Question Multiple problems - Can't find operating system & PC turns off/on/off/on and ...

Jan 28, 2021
Been working on this all day, can't figure it out.

Prior to this, I've been getting the odd blue screen shutdown recently, been thinking uh oh looks like something is going sour.

I've got some fairly old hardware:

Gigabyte GA-B85M-HD3 motherboard
GTX1050 (maybe ti? don't think it's too relevant here)
2 sticks of 8gb 1600mhz ddr3 corsair vengeance ram
750gb Seagate HDD
500gb kingston SSD

SO... last night my pc shut down, another blue screen error (or it might have just been an instant shutdown). I was unable to turn it back on, as I just got the off/on/off/on cycle when pressing the power button. It powers on for a moment, fans on, everything on, then clicks off after about 3 seconds, and tries again after 3 more seconds - repeat. I think is caused by a problem with my ram.. I unplugged the ram this morning and put in an old 4gb stick I had lying around, and it started up, no restart cycle.. However (!) this time it gave me a blue screen error when booting (my default boot drive is my SSD) and since changing the ram I have had no problems with random shutdowns or blue screens, but it could be too soon to tell. (Although I re tested and plugged in the Corsair ram again and after 10 minutes I got blue screen then the on/off/on/off cycle, so I'm pretty sure the ram might be busted...)
The blue screen error I get when booting to the SSD is: The Boot Configuration Data file is missing some required information. So, I restarted, went in to the BIOS and booted from my HDD - this works. So, I can't boot from SSD, only HDD.

At the start, when running from HDD, I was able to access the files on my SSD, I even transferred some over the my HDD for safe keeping as I'm not currently backed up (not too fussed, everything precious is floating on a cloud) But now I can't get into the SSD files when up and running from the HDD, which is strange. So maybe it's not completely corrupted, just the operating system?

So, I downloaded the windows ISO to an external drive, plugged it in (tried all USB ports) and tried to boot from there (from the BIOS, changing boot priority, just selecting a device to boot from etc. with the intention of seeing if re installing windows on the SSD will fix the issue, but I get the error of "can't find operating system" and a message to press ctr alt delete to restart and to unplug all devices without an operating system. (The "no operating system" error occurs when I unplug the HDD. When the HDD is plugged in, it just skips over the external drives once it finds no OS, and goes straight to boot from HDD). I've tried 2 different externals, one thumb drive and one external 500gb seagate - both are working fine. I've tried reformatting them, they both have active partition where the ISO file is, tried re downloading ISO, they're NTFS - I'm sure everything is fine with them.

So I can't boot from SSD because I get an error.
I can boot from HDD.
Can't re install windows as any external storage Operating System is not getting read properly and giving an error saying no OS found. (When up and running from the HDD, I can see the external drives and see they contain the ISO)
I've gone into the BIOS, changed the boot priority, just gone to the boot menu and manually selected where to boot from, all of the normal things you'd think to do in this situation unless I've missed something..
Also I haven't made any changes recently to hardware or anything potentially fiddly software wise.

Does anyone have any ideas? I am stumped.

Apologies for the long post, and I may edit/reply if I think of some more information that might be useful or that I've left out. If you want me to check something pls let me know and I'll look into it and get back.
Before you re install Windows, I'd suggest you get some tools that can test consistence of RAM and also getting the S.M.A.R.T. data from the storage devices. The easiest way I believe is to get an Linux live distro and make the ISO-file to a bootable usb thumb drive.

Look for the following tools
  • At boot - look for "Memory test" or similar.
  • When at desktop - in the menu, look for "disks" or "SMART tool" or similar.
  • Also - you should to be able to either upload screen copies, or to transfer to a storage device (if later, you need another usb drive to store the files)
The majority of distros does have all of these built-in the live ISO image.

Alternatively you could use the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) and find appropriate tools for the jobs, but you cannot take screenshots from that.