I'm running a 27" iMac from 2010, and I just recently installed Mountain Lion (10.8.5). On Snow Leopard, I had a Windows 7 partition that I had installed from a burned DVD, and everything was working fine. But I had to reformat the HDD to install ML, and so now I'm looking to reinstall a Windows 7 partition.

First off, I think my Superdrive is failing. I insert the DVD I used to install windows before, and it just whirs away for a few seconds and then spits it back out. When I try and re-burn the original .ISO file to a new DVD at max speed, it gives me a "burn failed because of a medium write error". When I try and re-burn it on the slowest speed, it starts successfully, and then when "finishing" it spits the disk out (instead of mounting the image) and says "burn failed because of a medium write error" again.

However, I have an external DVD drive. So when I tried going through the Bootcamp Assistant, it recognized the disc on this drive, and everything seemed to be going fine. It got the partition set up, and restarted the computer as it should. However, when it came time to reboot, I got a black screen with "NO BOOTABLE DEVICE -- INSERT BOOT DISK AND PRESS ANY KEY". Am I right in assuming that this is because the OS doesn't know to scan my external DVD drive upon booting up?

After I manually rebooted, erased the failed Windows partition, and rejoined the empty space to my Mac partition, I tried this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmHxkahbK-g

Because I'm on Mountain Lion, there isn't any native support in Bootcamp for creating a bootable USB Windows install. So as the video suggests, I edited the .plist file, and made a USB bootstick from there. However, when Bootcamp rebooted this time, I still got the same error. Even when I manually rebooted and held down the option key, it didn't recognize my USB stick.

My question is a two-parter:

(1) How can I verify that my Superdrive is failing, and if it is indeed, can I get it replaced? Mind you this computer is almost 6 years old now.

(2) This user had the same problem, except they eventually got their Superdrive to read the disc: Unable to install Windows via Bootcamp without superdrive (mountain lion)

Can anyone else offer some alternative suggestions? I don't have much faith that I'm going to get my DVD to stay in the Superdrive. Is there some other way I can have it recognize my external DVD upon rebooting?

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Your model's firmware does not support installing Windows using a flash drive. If you want to install without using a DVD or flash drive, you can use the instructions given at this site. Although the method uses VirtualBox, the final installation does not run in a virtual machine. BTW, VirtualBox is free and only requires 225 MB of disk space. If you have any questions, let me know. Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 17:02
  • Thank you, David. I didn't realize my machine was lacking the USB-booting firmware. Good to know.
    – Patch
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 20:48
  • @DavidAnderson But do you know why I cannot boot from my external DVD drive? Bootcamp recognizes the drive and the install DVD when I start, but when I reboot, it doesn't boot from the disc. I even tried interrupting the reboot by holding down the Option key, and choosing the Windows DVD at startup. But I still just get the "NO BOOTABLE DEVICE" error every time.
    – Patch
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 20:51
  • According to Apple, you can use an external DVD drive along as its a Apple USB SuperDrive. When booting, the firmware has to access the external DVD drive. When running the Boot Camp Assistant, the OS X operating system accesses the external DVD drive. Just because OS X can access the external DVD drive does not mean the firmware can also. Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 4:11

1 Answer 1


Apple has a service provider lookup at https://locate.apple.com and I would start with an authorized service provider. Those era Macs aren't that hard to open and work on and the cost you might pay might make a DIY repair more likely than the more modern Macs that are designed more for factory trained technicians and have adhesive and very fragile connectors that you typically replace rather than reseat.

As to your failures, one bad drive can bring down the entire storage controller and/or bus, so you might open and just disconnect the superdrive to see if that helps the other storage devices work.

http://ifixit.com might be the best place for a take apart and quick quote on the parts you might need for that repair.

  • Do you know of some way I can boot from my other external DVD drive?
    – Patch
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 1:42
  • Yes, it works fine, pop the disk in and go. Any modern Mac will boot from Ata, Sata, Usb and firewire drives. Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 2:36
  • @JohnKeates As I mentioned above, to David, I can run through the Bootcamp process, no problem, with my external DVD drive, and install disc, but I always get the "NO BOOTABLE DEVICE" error every single time. I feel like I should just be able to use my external; this doesn't make any sense.
    – Patch
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 20:53
  • @Patch I see. The "NO BOOTABLE DEVICE" message is one from the CSM, the EFI module responsible for BIOS emulation so that Windows can boot. You say you can run trough the BootCamp process, does that include actually installing Windows? You can't use the CSM with external bridge adapters, it doesn't support that I believe. Using the CSM to launch an on-disk boot manager that then boots an external bridge adapter (like USB to DVD via SATA) would work, however. A pure USB solution should work fine too. Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 2:46

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