How to Fix the Inaccessible Boot Device Error in Windows 10

Dan Price Updated 10-02-2020

Inaccessible boot device errors in Windows 10 aren’t hard to fix. We’ve already explained how to fix one of the most common problems: the “critical process died” stop code. Now it’s time to look at another issue frequently complained about: how to fix an inaccessible boot drive error.


What exactly causes the issue? How do you know if it’s affecting you? And what can you do to fix it? Keep reading to find out more.

(Note: Some of these solutions will only work if you can still get occasional access to your PC without it crashing.)

What Is the Inaccessible Boot Device Error?

We all know Windows loves to update itself. Often, it’s exciting—especially when a major upgrade rolls around. But your excitement can quickly turn to despair.

Picture the scene. You eagerly wait for Windows to reboot after the upgrade, then BAM! You see a “blue screen of death” (BSOD) with the inaccessible boot drive error message and your computer restarts.

In simple terms, the message means Windows lost its access to the system partition during the startup process.


Although tens of thousands of users saw the code as a result of a 2017 update, the boot device error has a number of possible causes, including BIOS updates and overclocked CPUs. Some users suggest that the problem appears to be more prevalent in computers running an SSD.

Let’s take a look at how you can fix the inaccessible boot device error in Windows 10. Unfortunately, you might need to try several different solutions.

1. Remove Recently-Installed Packages

windows advanced startup

If you believe an update has caused your problem, you need to work through your recently installed packages and remove them one by one. Hopefully, you will eventually delete the update that’s causing the issue.


Note: The following process will restart your machine. Make sure you save any work before continuing.

To begin, open the Settings app and navigate to Update and Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup > Restart Now. After a few moments, a blue screen will pop up. Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.

Your computer will restart and boot into the Command Prompt app. Once the Command Prompt is on your screen, follow these instructions:

  1. Type dir c: (assuming Windows is installed in the C drive) and press Enter.
  2. Run Dism /Image:c:\ /Get-Packages.
  3. You will see all the packages installed on your system. Use the date field to identify the most recent and make a note of its complete name.
  4. To remove the package, type dism.exe /image:c:\ /remove-package /[package name]. Replace [package name] with the name you noted in the previous step.
  5. Reboot your machine.

If removing the most recent update did not fix your issue and you still see BSODs, repeat the above process with the next most recent update.


2. Remove “Update Pending” Packages

cmd for inaccessible drive

Sometimes, Windows updates get stuck in a strange limbo, forever pending and never installing. These pending updates can cause an inaccessible boot device error.

To remove them, you’ll once again need to open Command Prompt in the advanced startup options by going to Update and Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup > Restart Now > Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.

When the Command Prompt app is running, run the following three commands. They will delete the SessionsPending registry key. Press Enter after each line:

reg load HKLM\temp c:\windows\system32\config\software
reg delete "HKLM\temp\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Component Based Servicing\SessionsPending"/v Exclusive
reg unload HKLM\temp

Next, you need to move any pending updates into their own temporary file. Type dism /image:C:\ /get-packages to get a list of updates. Make a note of any which has the “Install Pending” tag.

Now you need to create a temporary file. Type MKDIR C:\temp\packages and press Enter.

Lastly, move all the pending packages into the temporary file. Type dism /image:c:\ /remove-package /packagename:[package name] /scratchdir:c:\temp\packages and press Enter. Replace [package name] as appropriate.

3. Update Your Drivers

update device drivers Windows Device Manager

If neither of the two fixes we’ve already discussed manages to solve your problem, there are some other generic troubleshooting steps you can try before heading to your local PC repair shop.

Firstly, try and update your drivers. Faulty drivers can be responsible for any number of ailments on your machine. The problem is more likely to present itself if you are using old drivers. In the case of the inaccessible boot device error, the most common culprit is an IDE ATA/SATA controller driver.

There are two ways to check for updates. Firstly, you could check the manufacturer’s website. Secondly, open Device Manager, expand the IDE ATA/SATA controller sub-menu, right-click on Standard SATA AHCI Controller, and select Update Driver.

4. Enable AHCI Mode in the BIOS

Some users have reported that enabling AHCI mode in your system BIOS instantly solves the inaccessible boot drive error.

The BIOS menu can vary considerably between manufacturers, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all way of explaining the process.

However, in general terms, you’ll need to enter the BIOS during boot (typically by press Escape, Delete, or one of the Function keys), head to the Advanced Options menu, find Set AHCI Mode, and change the value to Enabled.

5. Check for a Corrupted Hard Drive

Corrupted files on your hard drive might be the cause of the error. Thankfully, if they are the root of the issue, it’s straightforward to fix.

Firstly, you need to open Command Prompt as an administrator. To do so, press the Windows key, type cmd, right-click on the result and choose Run as administrator.

Within the Command Prompt app, type chkdsk /f /r and press Enter. Wait for the app to process your input, then type Y and press Enter. If you cannot boot Windows, you can also run this command from the recovery console by entering chkdsk /r C: instead.

Other Troubleshooting Solutions

If you’ve still not managed to fix the inaccessible boot device error, you might feel like it’s time to call in a professional.

However, depending on your technical capabilities, there are a couple more things you can try:

  • Open your machine’s chassis and check for loose cables
  • Physically inspect your RAM, motherboard, and hard drive for faults and damage

Lastly, you could try taking the nuclear option and reset Windows 10 back to a clean copy 4 Ways to Factory Reset Your Windows Computer Want to know how to factory reset a PC? Here are the best methods to reset a Windows computer. Read More . If you choose this approach, you will lose all your data, so make sure you make a backup of your data before starting.

Related topics: Boot Errors, Computer Maintenance, Hard Drive, Troubleshooting, Windows 10.

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  1. Johann Ward
    July 7, 2020 at 4:42 am

    AHCI MODE was the Saving grace!!! Thank you guys!!!!!

  2. Pradeepkumar Vasava
    April 11, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks 5th Option has started my Laptop

  3. Eliot Longpre
    November 23, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    Is this guide written by a bot, or just a regular idiot? Think about what you're saying. How are people meant to do things WITHIN WINDOWS when this article is specifically about being UNABLE TO BOOT?

    • Dan Price
      January 16, 2020 at 7:33 pm

      The issue does not necessarily appear during every Windows session.

      • JJ
        July 20, 2020 at 1:10 pm

        For me it does. Every.single.boot. Author is a ninny. Come on. Total loss of credibility if you omit that likelihood. Next.

      • JJ
        July 20, 2020 at 2:04 pm

        Ok, change the title of your article, then. You appear like an amateur and harm the credibility of muo. The people that have met with success are the small handful of ppl where the problem may be that simple, altho I wouldn't call that (force AHCI in BIOS) a fix, as much as I would call it a "work-around".

  4. jchap1590
    September 1, 2019 at 1:10 am

    I got this error after using Driver Booster. the only solution that actually worked, which isn't even mentioned here, was to restore from a System Restore point.

    this is one of the stupidest, least helpful guides I've ever read. I know how to open command prompt from a Windows 10 installation disk, but to a less savvy user 3 out of 5 of these solutions make zero sense because the steps listed require you to start from within Windows.. the issue to begin with is that windows not bootable! *facepalm*

    August 30, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    What worked for me was setting the POST to AUTO instead of detailed. Dell E6430

  6. Tonyu Bew
    April 11, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    don't you people realise that if you have this error or other error that completely stops your computer from starting it is worse than useless to advise people to use windows functions to solve the problem!!! If windows won't start how the hell can you use windows functions to solve the problem!!!

  7. Dave C
    April 10, 2019 at 8:22 am

    AHCI mode (solution 4) fixed it for me. Thank you so much!

  8. Jan Boucek
    April 7, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    After many hours of fiddling about, my solution turned out to be simple - load the BIOS default settings. Instant satisfaction!

    My problems started after a Dell request to update which I did. Now it's asking again to update but I hesitate.

    For the record, I accessed the BIOS as follows:
    - Restart PC and immediately start hitting F2 until you either get the BIOS screen up or a choice in the bottom right corner of the blank screen of F2 or F12.
    - In the BIOS screen, the default option is listed down below, F9 if memory serves me right.

  9. Andrew
    January 17, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    Thanks mate, had a Dell 7390 with the above error and Enabled AHCI Mode in the BIOS. Its booting now!

  10. SK
    November 30, 2018 at 4:10 am

    Didn't want to touch the BIOS at first but nothing work. Tried after Kirk comments, solution 4 work perfectly.
    Thank you so much for this. Thought that I might have to reset windows again.

  11. Kp
    November 1, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    How do I get out of the loop

  12. Kirk
    October 9, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    OMG thank you so much - solution number 4 fixed my problem. I had just changed the cmos battery & it looks like that setting had reverted to 'disabled'.