SOLUTION: “No bootable devices found” on Dell Laptops – SSD not detected

A relatively new form of problem which has been introduced by the wider adoption of solid-state drives (and other drives with more particular power requirements than standard mechanical hard drives) is that of drive detection and compatibility.  This applies most notably to sleep/resume and cold boot detection of these devices, which sometimes are not detected at all on specific systems.  Occasionally a BIOS update on the computer or a firmware update to the drive can resolve the issue, but other times, the drive may simply be incompatible.

I have seen this most recently with Crucial brand SSDs, which by and large have proven to be a good value — when they work.  Reliability hasn’t been a concern with regard to the drives I’ve purchased for my clients, but on occasion, drive detection is a problem.  Specifically, some of the newer Dell Latitude laptops (of which I purchase and service quite a large number) seem to struggle with Crucial SSDs.

The message you will see on a Dell Latitude if this happens to you is:

No bootable devices found.
Press F1 key to retry boot.
Press F2 key for setup utility.
Press F5 key to run onboard diagnostics.

Interestingly, if the user presses F1 to retry, the machine then boots normally.  This indicates that the problem has to do with the machine not detecting the drive quickly enough during POST to continue with the boot process.

With other machines, the problem can be resolved by switching ON “Hot plug support” (or similar) in the BIOS Setup.  However, this option does not exist within Dell’s BIOS Setup.

So, then, what’s the solution?  Actually, it’s precisely the same thing I posted in my previous update as a response to a completely different problem: bypass the RAID controller and use AHCI interface instead.  The problem apparently seems to be related, at least in part, to how the system processes the communication between the drive and the chipset via the Intel RAID controller.  Disabling RAID does require jumping through a couple of hoops, but it’s relatively quick and easy.  See my post here for full instructions!

Once this is complete, the machine boots normally each and every time!

ASUS Q502LA Official Driver Downloads

Looking for drivers for your ASUS Q502LA notebook? Good luck, because entering the model number at the ASUS website won’t get you to the right page.  Wondering why that is?  So was I, so I eventually located the correct page and have made the link available for you here:

https://www.asus.com/us/support/Download/3/686/0/1/CPUDRIVER_Ix-5xxxxU/45/

That’s it.  Because you need a support post to find drivers on ASUS’ fundamentally broken website.

By the way: if you’re having trouble with sleep/resume (you see a black screen) after upgrading to Windows 10 on this machine, you’ll want to ensure you have the latest ASUS system software installed (ATK, FlipLock, etc.) as well as the latest BIOS version.

SOLUTION: Mouse cursor freezes after typing in Windows 10

Recently, a client came to me with a problem where his mouse cursor would freeze for a few seconds after pressing any key on the keyboard in Windows 10.  The delay was driving him nuts, and I empathized with him after using the computer for a short time.

In retrospect, the problem appears to be mostly limited to Synaptics drivers, and only on systems where such drivers are installed and active within Windows 10 (which also features its own “precision” touchpad driver settings).

Fortunately, the solution — while elusive — was simple:

  • Search Mouse in the searchbox at the bottom of the screen; Choose Mouse & touchpad settings from the results
  • Choose Additional mouse options
  • Click the ClickPad tab, then click Settings…
  • Click the Advanced tab
  • Set the Filter Activation Time slider all the way to 0.

touchpad(Note the slider just below the touchpad diagram)

That’s it!

SOLUTION: Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running.

A common problem following the replacement of a hard drive (or other low-level storage-related change, such as a storage driver or interface change) is a broken Windows Update.  I’ve been seeing this more and more frequently, in fact, on Windows 7 machines after performing drive recoveries and installing a new drive.

The exact message is:

Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running.  You may need to restart your computer.

While lots of solutions are offered across the internet for this problem, ultimately, it’s actually relatively simple: the storage driver is frequently to blame.  Specifically, the Intel storage driver (generally iaStor.sys), which comes as a part of the Intel Matrix Storage Manager package (renamed to Intel Rapid Storage Technology on later versions of Windows).

It’s been documented in other places as well that this is in fact the root of the problem.

Problem is, there are different versions of the Intel Matrix Storage Manager for each manufacturer — so it isn’t always possible to simply download the latest version directly from Intel and install it.

The HP version of that driver is listed above, and it will indeed work for many systems in question.  For other manufacturers, it’s best to search for the driver manually and download it directly from the PC manufacturer’s web site.  You can use search terms such as:

intel rapid storage technology driver ich10r site:dell.com vista 32-bit

To locate a suitable version for your particular situation.

If this still does not correct your issue, you may need to follow up the driver upgrade with a reset of the Windows Update repository:

  1. Open an elevated Command Prompt (Run as Administrator).
  2. Type the following commands (pressing ENTER after each one):
    1. net stop wuauserv
    2. net stop bits
  3. Open a Windows Explorer window and navigate to %WINDIR% (e.g., normally C:\Windows).
  4. Rename SoftwareDistribution to SoftwareDistribution.old.
  5. Return to the elevated Command Prompt and type these commands:
    1. net start wuauserv
    2. net start bits

This procedure has corrected the problem on all of the PCs where I’ve encountered it thus far.

SOLUTION: CPU Throttling on Dell Latitude Ultrabooks (E7440, E7240) after power exceptions

Recently I have seen multiple instances (fairly rarely, but nevertheless) of the newer Dell Latitude Ultrabooks (circa 2013/2014 models, E7440 and E7240 specifically) throttling CPU frequencies under exceptional power conditions (such as possibly a misbehaving AC adapter or extremely low battery condition while under load).  I haven’t confirmed the exact circumstances which lead to this behavior, but I do know of a solution.

I first noticed this when a client recently reported sluggish operation of his brand-new E7440 Ultrabook… which, of course, made little sense considering the blazingly-fast parts (SSD included) that we purchased for him.  I checked the software briefly and saw no issues which would suggest configuration problems.  However, upon opening Task Manager, under the Performance tab, the CPU frequencies were reportedly below 400 MHz permanently–which, of course, is incredibly low considering the max Turbo Boost frequency of the i5 Haswell CPU he had of 2.8 GHz.  Fortunately, I had seen this problem once before.

My theory is that it is likely related to power disruption conditions, as I have only thus far seen it happen in circumstances where an AC adapter was not providing proper voltage or where the machine was in a very low battery state while sustaining heavy CPU loads for some reason (Windows Updates, etc.).  The machine responds by throttling CPU clock rates to protect itself from possible damage, but the problem is that it never reverts from this throttled state until it is powered off and the battery is removed.

Fortunately, the solution is easy, if not a bit difficult to discover.  All that is required is a BIOS update to the latest firmware available from Dell (support.dell.com, search for your particular model).  In my most recent client’s case, an upgrade from A05 to A15 immediately corrected the problem.  It remains to be seen whether it recurs, but I do not expect it to given the last instance I saw, where we did just the same thing and the problem was permanently corrected.