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How to Fix Operating System Not Found Problem

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jun 14, 2024 • Filed to: Windows Computer Solutions • Proven solutions

If you are using Windows systems and often re-install operating system to get a faster and better computer performance, you won't be a stranger to these "operating system not found" error messages:

  1. Operating system not found
  2. Missing Operating System
  3. Setup did not find any hard drives installed on your computer.

What causes System Not Found error to present?

When your computer is booting, the BIOS will find a system on your hard drive to boot to. If there is not any system, the computer doesn't know where to go, so it gives you a message for troubleshooting. Below are the main reasons why Windows operating system is missing.

1. The computer input/output system (BIOS) does not detect the hard disk drive.

2. The hard disk is damaged or corrupted.

3. Master Boot Record (MBR) on the hard drive is broken. Note that some third-party programs or disk operations can damage an MBR.

4. An incompatible partition is marked as Active.

5. A partition that contains the MBR is no longer active.

Methods To Fix Operating System Not Found Problem:

The operating system error arises due to some common issues such as corrupted MBR, failed detection of BIOS, logical failure of hard disk, incorrect BIOS settings, and wrong/inactive partition. Resolving these problems will fix the error right away. So, here are the techniques to fix the error.

Solution 1: Test Hard Drive Problems

While resolving any software related error in the Windows system, we must test the hard drive. There is a Hard Disk Self Test in the BIOS to verify the integrity of the hard drive. Users often use this test for regular maintenance of the system.

To perform the test, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Enter BIOS mode by following the instructions for your system specifically. Get to the Diagnostics tab and select the Primary Hard Drive Self Test option.

Step 2: Press the Enter key to run the test, and you can perform a quick and comprehensive inspection. The system will give a detailed status of the test.


As a result, you can see if any of your hard drive components are failing and get it fixed immediately.

More Related: How to Test Hard Drive Speed?

Solution 2: Reset the BIOS:

If the hard drive is working fine, then the next thing to do is checking the BIOS settings and making sure that they are correct. Incorrect settings of BIOS can result in Operating system not found error. Thus, we need to reset the settings to default to get rid of this error.

Step 1: Remove all the external drives connected to your system and open the BIOS setup. In the BIOS windows, you'll see the Exit tab.

Step 2: Select the Exit tab and enable the "Load Optimal Defaults" option. The option can be load optimized defaults, Load setup defaults, or get default values depending on the system you own.


Step 3: Once the settings load successfully, select the Save Changes and Exit option, and the BIOS will be reset to the default configurations.

While using this method, make sure that you follow the right steps for your system.

Solution 3: Repair MBR with the installation CD/DVD:

Wrong operations and viruses can damage MBR and cause the Operating System not Found error. As the Windows OS doesn't boot, you'll be stuck unless you repair the MBR. If you already have a Windows Installation Disk, then follow the steps below:

Step 1: Insert the disc and enter Boot mode. Get to the Windows Setup menu and start the Recovery process in Command Prompt.

Step 2: Enter C:\> and type "bootrec/ fixmbr" and hit Enter. Press Y for yes and hit enter again when you get the prompt to write a new MBR.


When the writing process finishes, restart your PC and see if the problem is fixed or not.

Solution 4: Enable or Disable UEFI Secure Boot:

All systems come with UEFI firmware, or Secure Boot enabled. However, sometimes the firmware might not work properly, such as if you run MBR disk on Windows 10, it won't boot in UEFI mode. Try this to enable or disable it.

Step 1: Get to the Security tab of BIOS and find the Secure Boot option. Use the arrow keys to get to it. As the option highlights, change its status to disabled and then try booting your system.


Solution 5: Activate the Windows Partition:

There is a possibility that Windows partition is not active, resulting in Operating System not Found error. We can use the Diskpart tool to fix it. However, we'll need a Windows Installation media USB to carry out this task.

Step 1: Connect the installation media to your system and use it to boot the system. You can also change the boot order in the BIOS menu.

Step 2: Get to the Windows Setup screen, choose your preferred language and time format to move forward. Then select the "Repair your Computer" option.

Step 3: Navigate as Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > select Command Prompt and type diskpart. Press Enter key, type "list disk" and again press Enter key. The list of connected disks will appear on the screen.


Step 4: Type select disk [number] (the number in front of the largest disk) and replace the number. Type "list volume" and hit Enter key to display the list of partitions on the disk that was selected.

Step 5: Check on which partition the OS is installed and note down the number. Then type "select volume [number]" and again replace the number. At last, type "active" and press Enter.


Exit command prompt, restart your system, and see if the problem is still lingering or not.

More Related:
How To Mark Partition as Active or Inactive in Windows 10/11
Perform a Clean Installation of Windows 10/11 on a Custom Partition

What if the above methods fail to fix the Operating System Not Found issue?

It is a probability that even after that, you might not be able to fix the issue. Luckily, we have a tool that can save your data from oblivion. Recoverit Data Recovery software is one of the most popular and reliable data recovery tools. Whether it is the operating system missing or system crash issue, it is easy to use this software to retrieve data from a Windows system that won't boot.

Download Recoverit for free and prepare a USB drive or CD/DVD for booting. Once the bootable media is ready for use, you will be able to restore lost data.

Step 1: Create A Bootable Drive

Run the program and choose the Recover from Crash Computer option. Click on the Start button and select a mode for the bootable drive as per the media you want to use.


Hit the Create button, and you'll get a pop up that the process will format your drive. Confirm format and wait as the software creates a bootable drive.


Step 2: Make Unbootable System Bootable

Take the drive out that contains the bootable OS and boot your system using it. Find out other vital information about "How to set the computer to boot from USB drive"


Step 3: Recover Lost Files

Recoverit software will automatically start working as soon as you are done booting from the bootable drive. Start selecting the files that you want to recover and hit the Recover button once you are done.


All your data will be recovered shortly.

You may also like: How To Fix "Active Partition Not Found" Error

The Bottom Line:

In this guide, we learned about the methods that can help fix the Operating System not Found an issue in Windows OS. Besides that, we came to know that even if the system doesn't get fixed, we still have another way to retrieving our lost files with the help of Recoverit Data Recovery. Tell your friends and family who need a data recovery tool about Recoverit.

Recoverit author

David Darlington

staff Editor

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