No Bootable Medium Found in VirtualBox: The Best Solution is Here!

Sometimes when you are creating a new VM or when you are trying to start an existing VM, your VM cannot boot and you get the error:

No bootable medium found! System halted.

In this blog post, we will review all possible cases when this error can occur, as well as methods for resolving this issue.

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Reasons Why You Can Get the No Bootable Medium Found in VirtualBox Error

Let’s consider the most popular reasons why you can get the No bootable medium found in VirtualBox error and review the algorithms of actions that can help you resolve this issue.
VirtualBox - No bootable medium found! System Halted

A bootable disk has been created incorrectly or is not bootable

If you want to boot from a CD/DVD disc or an ISO image, but find that the disc has been created incorrectly, you may get the No bootable medium found in VirtualBox error. If a physical CD/DVD disc was burned as a data disc without using the bootable disc option, you won’t be able to boot your machine by using this disc. The same situation may happen when an ISO image is created incorrectly without creating a disk boot area.

Possible solutions. Burn another bootable CD/DVD disc or create a bootable ISO disk image correctly and try to boot again. Check the media you have inserted into the optical drive attached to the VM. Sometimes it may happen that the wrong disc is inserted unintentionally. Verify the checksum of your file after downloading the ISO image by comparing with the reference checksum on the source site.

The disk on which an ISO file is stored is damaged

Sometimes a VM cannot boot from an ISO image when the hard disk on which the ISO image is stored gets damaged. If some fragments of the ISO disk image are located on bad (damaged) blocks of the HDD (hard disk drive), the ISO file can become unreadable and a VM will not be able to boot from this ISO file.

Possible solutions. Download another ISO installation image, clone a physical DVD disk to the ISO image, or create a new ISO bootable image manually. For example, manual creation of the bootable macOS installation ISO image is explained in the blog post about installing macOS on VMware ESXi. Unfortunately, in most cases it is impossible to repair a corrupted ISO file stored on the damaged HDD.

The CD/DVD disc is physically corrupted

VirtualBox allows VMs to use a physical CD/DVD drive of the host machine that can be connected to a VM in settings. Scratches and dirt on optical CD/DVD discs can make the disc data unreadable. This situation can be terrible if scratches are located near the center of the optical disc where the table of content and the lead-in area that includes information about disc tracks and sectors of the CD/DVD disc is recorded.

Possible Solutions. Try to clean the disc surface carefully, polishing the scratches with special sprays. If you have another disc that is the same, or you are able to record another copy of the disc – try these options.

The virtual optical drive is empty

There is no bootable ISO image or CD/DVD disc inserted to the virtual optical drive of the VM.

Possible solutions. Insert the appropriate bootable media into a virtual CD/DVD drive of the VM and reset (restart) the virtual machine. More specifically, the algorithm of checking the bootable media for your VM is as follows:

In the main VirtualBox window, select your virtual machine, go to Machine > Settings (Ctrl+S) and select Storage. In the list of the storage devices, check to see whether the boot optical disc or a boot disk image (ISO) is inserted into a physical or virtual optical drive attached to your VM. On the screenshot below, you can see that the optical drive of the VM is empty. In this case, it is necessary to choose a virtual optical disk ISO file, or select the host optical drive with a physical optical CD or DVD disc inserted.

VirtualBox no bootable medium found – inserting the correct ISO image into a virtual optical drive

When the correct boot disk image is inserted, the storage settings window looks as follows.

VirtualBox no bootable medium found – a bootable ISO image is inserted into a virtual DVD drive

Inserting an ISO image to the virtual DVD drive of a VM was also mentioned in the previous blog posts: How to install Ubuntu on VirtualBox and How to install Kali on VirtualBox.

What is the purpose of the Live CD/DVD checkbox in the VirtualBox VM storage settings?

If you use a VM to boot from a live CD/DVD each time, tick the Live CD/DVD checkbox. When this option is enabled, a virtual CD/DVD disk image (ISO) is not removed from the virtual CD/DVD drive when the eject command is sent from the guest operating system. Hence, if you reboot the VM with the ticked Live CD/DVD checkbox, a VM will boot from the same ISO disk image. Otherwise, the virtual CD/DVD drive of the VM will be empty after ejecting from the guest OS (operating system) and further VM reboot, and you can get the fatal error in VirtualBox: No bootable medium found! System Halted.

Incorrect boot order in the VM settings

This can occur if you are looking to boot from the virtual disk where the OS is already installed, but the virtual optical drive is selected as a boot device and the virtual hard disk is not selected as a boot disk in the boot order list.

Another case when you can get the No bootable medium found in VirtualBox fatal error is when a virtual optical drive with a higher boot order contains the unbootable media. The disk drive that contains the correct boot image has the lower boot priority, and is disabled.

Possible solutions. You can change the boot order in the virtual machine settings (Machine > Settings) by going to the System section and selecting the Motherboard tab. Select the boot device, hitting the up and down arrows to change the boot order.

VirtualBox no bootable medium found – editing the boor order

Disable the floppy drive, if it is not used, by unticking the checkbox. Similarly, you can enable or disable any other boot devices with checkboxes.

Sometimes you may need to select the “Enable EFI” checkbox to boot modern operating systems and avoid the ‘No bootable medium found’ error.

A virtual CD/DVD drive is missing

It may happen that, for some reason, a virtual optical disc drive is missing in the VM configuration.

Possible solutions. Go to virtual machine settings and select the Storage tab. Click the Add storage controller icon, and in the opened menu, hit Add IDE controller.

VirtualBox no bootable medium found – adding an IDE storage controller to a VM

Once a new storage controller has been added, click the Add optical drive icon, and in the pop-up window, hit Choose disk.

VirtualBox no bootable medium found – adding a new virtual optical drive to the new storage controller

Click Add and browse the bootable ISO disk image. You can also select the ISO image from the list of recently used ISO files.

VirtualBox no bootable medium found – selecting a bootable ISO disk image

After that, you can check the boot order as explained above and, if everything is correct, hit OK to save settings and start the VM. Now the No bootable medium found in VirtualBox error should not occur.


As you can see, the VirtualBox No bootable medium found error is self-explanatory. This error usually occurs if a bootable disk is not defined or data cannot be read from a bootable disk. This blog post has covered most of the reasons why you may be faced with the No bootable medium found in VirtualBox error, and useful tips to help you resolve this issue. The methods of fixing such a boot error are not complex.

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