Dell 2950, Strike the F1 key to continue

Earlier this month on patch Wednesday I ran into a tricky issue.  Getting into the office early before the rest of the staff and while the US office was still offline I completed my usual daily server checks then went ahead and approved the updates for installation.

After letting the Hyper-V servers reboot as needed there were a couple of patches needed for the host server on which the hypervisor layer sits and all virtual servers run.  I set the host to reboot as needed and went to grab a cup of tea. 

Returning back to the office I got on with checking out my daily jobs in tracker and responding to a few overnight emails.  Tony got into the office soon after and proclaimed that the public shares were offline!  A quick attempt at the remote desktop prompt and its subsequent failure had us heading downstairs to check in the server room.

Switching on the monitor to the host server we were greeted to the very helpful message: “Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility”.

Hitting F2 and jumping into the BIOS found nothing out of the ordinary, it was all rather odd.  Server rebooted and some web searching revealed stories of replacement motherboards, badly updated RAID drivers and much woe, something I like to avoid if possible.

Later in the week we connected the server up to a new SAN and the same error is halting the machine on boot.  “Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility”.

This time checking the BIOS I noticed that the internal SATA ports we had been using with a SATA to eSATA port adaptor were set to AUTO.  We had finished using the external disks with the arrival of the new SAN making the internal SATA ports redundant.   I switched the internal SATA port A to OFF, saved, rebooted and was welcomed to see the default login screen and no F1 prompt.

So it would seem the Dell 2950 doesn’t like active internal SATA ports that that have no disks attached, enable or disable as needed.

50 thoughts on “Dell 2950, Strike the F1 key to continue

  1. Thank you for this. This was driving me nuts. This tip fixed the non-issue halt condition and server now boots without manual intervention.

    1. Hi there,

      I’m glad I managed to help somebody out with this tip, it was so frustrating at the time and such a simple fix. Thanks for the positive comments


  2. Thanks for the post, it resolved the problem. We had SATA A port turned off but SATA B was showing an Unknown Device even though nothing was attached. We may have some other hardware/driver/firmware issue but at least for the time being that irritating prompt is no longer.

  3. I’ve just recently started to hit this issue. For the past coupla weeks, had to Avocent into the server to hit F1. I’ll check it out first thing tomorrow morning when of course, it’s hung on boot again. [Users are currently on it.] Looks like this is it. Thanks!!!

  4. Thanks this information helps me to fix the F1 problem in my server poweredge 2950,
    ** i removed the server cover.
    ** i removed the sata cable from sata B & connect it to sata A
    ** i press f2 and i turn sata B off
    ** i reboot the server it works fine *****

  5. This got me in the right direction. Had this error, but my SATA options were already off. Tried turning off the IDE CD-ROM in the Integrated Devices and it worked.

  6. After a week and Dell sending new parts the F1 problem was still an issue. After reading your post, its FIXED!!! TG. I was pulling my hair out. Thanks for posting your findings.


  7. Thanks! Seems like my CD-ROM drive took a dump and when I disabled it in BIOS (due to this article) I no longer got the message.

    Thanks for the help!

    JW –
    Posted from a noisy data center on downtown LA at 11pm on a Friday night.

  8. Awesome! This fixed my 2950 problem F1 key issue too.
    Amazing how such a small thing can have such a large impact.

    Thank you very much for posting this fix!!!

  9. My Windows 8 Dell laptop goes to the bios and says Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run setup the utility when the battery is low. Probably just a typo in the programming (run setup the utility) but I’d like to know if anyone else has noticed this.

  10. Thanks for solving this stupid dell feature (bug), I almost set this to off on my own, after 4 more reboots I probably would have done so out of desperation, lol.

  11. I opened the cover , I found that the cable IDE not connected well ( as during the boot the message CD-ROM not found ) .
    Then , it return to a normal reboot without need to strike F1.


  12. Thank you! 5 years later and this is still helping people out today.
    I was going to go crazy.

  13. i had to use the option of altering my IDE CD setting but it worked…. THANK YOU SO MUCH

  14. I’ve had this problem for several months now and been trying all sorts of things to resolve the problem on a PowerEdge 850 (it was reconfigured to be a DNS server and had problems since then!).

    The only time the server is restarted is due to power failure or manual MS security updates so it wasn’t too much of a problem, just an annoyance to have to deal with. This has now been resolved by turning off the SATA ports! Thanks for posting this up, much appreciated 🙂

  15. hi, well i am going mad because i have a DELL PowerEdge T610 and when am turning on
    it apears the F1 prompt, when i press it nothing happens, i’ve tried everything and nothing. please help.

    1. Thats a tough one Dario, but think logically and change one thing at once when testing and I’m sure you’ll find the answer. Good luck!

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