SOLUTION: “The requested system device cannot be found” on UEFI systems

With GPT disks and UEFI all the rage now, it’s not uncommon to encounter a scenario where boot parameters need to be repaired in order to reach the operating system.  Generally speaking, it’s often easy enough to accomplish this by executing the command bcdboot X:\windows (where X is the system drive letter) from a recovery environment.

However, other times, even in spite of this command properly completing, the system still will not boot.  In many cases the failure is evident when attempting to perform bcdedit /enum and receiving a message such as this one:

The boot configuration data store can not be opened.
The requested system device cannot be found.

Performing bootrec /fixboot also provokes the following error:

Element not found

This is bad news on a GPT disk using UEFI rather than BIOS.  Essentially, the system is looking for the EFI partition, which in this case is either missing or corrupt.

If it’s corrupt but still exists, you can simply enter diskpart, select the system partition (usually around 500 MB in size and with an ID of “EFI”) and assign it a letter, exit diskpart, and then perform a chkdsk command on the new partition assignment.  This sometimes will correct it.  Other times, forcibly removing the EFI and boot folders from the EFI partition and then executing the bcdboot command with a specific system partition parameter (e.g.: bcdboot X:\windows /s E:, where X: is the Windows partition and E: is the EFI paritition) works.

But let’s say the partition is missing altogether.  This is most often the case following a drive image using imaging tools to a new SSD for example.  Sometimes the tools (especially if executed externally on another system rather than live within the target OS) will remove the EFI partition and only image the Windows partition.

If this happens, most people will tell you that you will need to reinstall Windows from scratch.  However, all is not yet lost!  It’s fixable — but in order to accomplish it, you must recreate the EFI partition manually and then reload the boot parameters from there.

Here’s how it’s done at a command prompt from a recovery environment.  I’ve bolded the commands I typed to make it easier to read — hold on tight:

X:\windows\system32>diskpart

Microsoft DiskPart version 10.0.10240

Copyright (C) 1999-2013 Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: MININT-3A416N9

DISKPART> list disk

Disk ### Status Size Free Dyn Gpt
——– ————- ——- ——- — —
Disk 0 Online 489 GB 0 B *

DISKPART> sel disk 0

Disk 0 is now the selected disk.

DISKPART> list part

Partition ### Type Size Offset
————- —————- ——- ——-
Partition 1 Primary 489 GB 1024 KB

DISKPART> sel part 1

Partition 1 is now the selected partition.

DISKPART> shrink desired=1024

DiskPart successfully shrunk the volume by: 1024 MB

DISKPART> create partition efi size=260

DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.

DISKPART> format quick fs=fat32

100 percent completed

DiskPart successfully formatted the volume.

DISKPART> exit

Leaving DiskPart…

X:\windows\system32>bcdboot c:\windows
Boot files successfully created.


Following these steps, the machine should now be bootable.  If it’s not, it’s probably time to call a professional!

Good luck!

 

7 thoughts on “SOLUTION: “The requested system device cannot be found” on UEFI systems

  1. Hi,
    Can you help?
    I have a Surface Pro 4 which started crashing a few weeks ago. I was able to reset/ restore initially ; it crashed again and was able to boot using a USB. It crashed again and now wont boot using a USB as it does not find the SDD. Diskpart lists only the USB drive.
    1. I’ve tried the bcdedit /enum procedure you mentioned, but no luck . Still returns the original error (req. system device cannot be found)
    2. Scannow process complete with no integrity violations found
    3. chkdsk / r returns error : Cannot lock current drive . Windows cannot run disk checking as volume is write protected.
    4. Startup repair doesnt work

    Diskpart > list disk shows only the USB drive

  2. Your easy-to-follow guidance helped me manually recreate the EFI partition and, so far, successfully reboot. Good job. Many thanks.

  3. Everything was going fine and i thought yes finely.. but when i type fixboot…. bloody hell again access denied… whats going on plz help

  4. And the first time when i type bcdboot c:\windows said failure when attempting to copy files…..

  5. Just thought I’d add another possibility in regard to this error “Device not found” which affects these windows boot utilities looking for the BCD store (bcdedit, bootrec etc).Wasted a huge amount of time trying to find the answer to my issue which resulted after swapping Windows 10 system to an SSD. The SSD was smaller then original HDD so couldn’t clone easily due to size difference and bad sectors on old disk. So I used a “novel”, i.e. lazy, method of copying partitions and only cloning the Windows partition (had bad sectors) using sector to sector clone. I should mention that I used BCDBoot to get the SSD to boot OK, so that wasn’t an issue. Anyhow, I basically made the mistake of copying the system EFI partition rather than cloning it. Eventually dawned on me that perhaps because I’d copied not cloned some marker on the partition was missing so Windows couldn’t identify the EFI system partition. Finally worked out it’s the partition Type ID that was wrong. The EFI system partition has it’s own specific Type ID:
    https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa365449(v=vs.85).aspx

    Changed the partition type ID and now all works as it should. Still amazed that I couldn’t find this issue mentioned in any of the stuff I found on the net … perhaps because others have the sense to clone not copy when swapping systems to a new disk.

  6. thank you very much, it worked. I almost desperate reinstall my Windows because found no solution like this.

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