More Dell BIOS fun “Strike the F1 key to continue”

Following on from my last post about Dell hardware here it would seem that Dell machines do not like active SATA ports with nothing attached to them. I’m posting an update here in the hope that it will help frustrated people fix their issue.

I was using a Dell Dimension 9200 as a host to patch the firmware of some hard disks (see here for all the fun) and had to enable several of the SATA ports not normally needed.  When I returned the donor machine to its owner I had mistakenly left SATA port 4 enabled and the owner was greeted with “Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility”.

Receiving this error every time you boot is annoying on a desktop, but a serious problem for a server in a data centre, so if you are scratching your head as to why your machine keeps halting on boot with this rather cryptic message check to see you haven’t left a port active after removing disks or altering the configuration of your machine.

11 thoughts on “More Dell BIOS fun “Strike the F1 key to continue”

  1. This is indeed a serious problem when a server is involved. Dell should be smarter than this 🙂
    Thank you VERY much for the solution! It works like a charm!!

    1. Hi Heidi,

      After a lot of remote Delll kit failed to reboot correctly I knew I had to warn people, I’m glad it helped.


      Niall Best

  2. Hey that worked! Thanks.

    I have a dimension 9200 and a couple years back installed a new 1TB harddrive. And ever since i noticed every time i reboot i get the annoying Strike F1 message. I tried checking the Setup menu in the beginning but couldn’t fix it and have been putting it off.

    Finally this morning i decided to re-investigate this problem again. I tried updating the BIOS as suggested by other forums to no avail. Then I saw your blog and i thought i made sense so I tried it and it worked. =)

    So simple in the end. Wasted few hours of my life on this nonsense but glad it is now finally resolved.


    1. Hi there,

      That is one of the main reasons I started this blog so if I managed to overcome something really obscure and irritating with computing I could write it down so other people didn’t have to suffer as much on these problems.

      I’m glad you got your machine sorted out in the end.


  3. Hi there,

    I had the same behaviour on several servers and helpless. Looked for a soultion in blogs etc. for a long long time!

    Today I found this one and … that´s it – indeed! A unknown SATA port was found during the boot -> switched to OFF in BIOS -> reboot and working fine :-).

    Many Thnx!
    Best Regards from Germany

  4. Hi guys thanks for your information:-) yesterday i’m facing same kind of issue but not sata, facing with scsi port in dell pe 6850 server. Problem solved. Once again thanks guys

  5. I have a Dimension 9200 that came with two DVD drives–one for reading discs and the other for read/write to DVDs. I replaced the DVD-Rom with a BD-Rom drive, and the fun began. While the RAID bootup sequence “sees” the BD drive, the BIOS does not fully recognize it, and reports an “unknown” SATA drive. Windows can read it fine, and I have used the drive without difficulty. However the BIOS keeps saying there’s an “unrecognized SATA drive” and asking me to “F1 to continue.”
    I have looked everywhere for a solution and have yet to find one.
    Ideas? Help of any kind?

    1. Hi Ed,

      Are you running the latest BIOS from Dell for the machine? I know the 9200 is quite old now but there may have been an update to allow it to recognise newer hardware?

      The only other solution would be to purchase a PCI SATA card and run the BD-ROM from that bypassing the Dell BIOS F1 issue. Not ideal but might be the only way I’m afraid.

  6. Niall,
    Thanks for your followup. I tried installing Windows 7, which worked far better than the Vista 32-bit the box came with, but it continued to exhibit the same issue. Finally, I re-installed the original DVD-Rom and DVD-RW drives into the Dell case, then re-installed Windows 7 from an original Dell install DVD, and since those were the original drives, everything was fine . . .
    . . . but geek that I am, it was not satisfactory. I HAD to have the BD combo drive working! So I removed the DVD-Rom, and installed the BD drive in its place. After a single “tap F1 to continue” prompt following the BD install, Win7 came up, “found” the drive . . . installed it to Windows, and when I rebooted, NO MORE issues! All drives recognized as they should be, and as they are (including the BD drive). So now when a Windows update needs an automatic reboot in the middle of the night, it no longer hangs waiting for an F1 input, but reboots and restarts with updates properly installed!
    What happened? I’m not sure, other than possibly that Dell had some utility or other on the “Factory” disc that handled the problem and connected with the motherboard differently than the generic Windows 7 I had installed.
    Oh, this time I turned off the RAID firmware in the BIOS when I installed the Dell version of Windows 7 (Win Vista seemed to require the RAID be on in order to perform a complete install without problems).
    Notes about Windows 7 on the Dimension 9200:
    1. The “factory” Windows 7 disc takes significantly longer to install than a “generic” version of Windows 7, which has issues with recognizing DVD drives, and prevents completion of installation . . .
    2. (generic Windows 7 image/disc) necessitates an install from a bootable flash drive.
    3. The “factory” Dell Windows 7 disc requires more time to load and install but it eventually does so without problems, provided the CD/DVD drives are essentially as they were from Dell. Various “hangs” waiting for input or key presses occur if DVD drives are not the original drives as delivered from Dell. Nevertheless install can still be performed as long as it can boot from the Dell Windows 7 disc in one of the drives. (I do not know if an install can proceed with an aftermarket drive that the BIOS has not fully recognized–it would not install from my aftermarket BD-rom drive.)
    4. Once Windows 7 is installed and updates are performed, the “Strike F1 to continue” issue has gone away. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think the same would happen for others also.

    In the past I viewed Windows 7 as an upgraded Vista. I was mostly mistaken. Since I experienced insurmountable problems getting the original 32-bit Vista to fully and properly install, I very much appreciate the difference Windows 7 makes–even though I had to pay for a COA. [COA=Installation code/software license–i.e. “Certificate Of Authenticity”].
    The Dimension 9200 operates significantly better and faster with Win7–it boots in roughly half the time, is quicker in normal disc access, and is quieter–the same HD drives make much less noise with Windows 7 than with Vista. Updates are quicker with fewer problems, and updating drivers for devices and peripherals is a much quicker and more efficient process.
    Summing up: an install with an original Dell Windows 7 disc seems the preferred way to proceed with updating to Windows 7, as opposed to even an original Microsoft Windows 7 disc or image; and the Dell Win7 install appears to resolve all hardware issues . . . eventually.

  7. I should add (with regard to your prompt response) that the first things I did when attempting to install Vista (which the system came with from Dell) was update BIOS and chipset–and later I worried it was those updates that may have prevented Vista from making a complete and perfect installation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *