M.2 drive "boot device not found", followed by CTD from initial loading screen

Do you have any add-ons in your Community folder? If yes, please remove and retest before posting.
No, it’s a fresh install

Are you using Developer Mode or made changes in it?
No, I can’t start the game at the moment

Brief description of the issue:
I have 2x 1TB M.2 drives with heatsinks. One is a WD Blue, the other is a Microcenter Inland Premium. WD is a slower one, at 500MB/s read and write, while the Microcenter is my gaming one at 3500MB/s read and write (roughly).

A few weeks ago after setting my rolling cache to 500GB on the WD Blue one I got a “Boot drive not found” error. After reinstalling Windows and purchasing Easus Partition Manager, I was able to recover my partitions. It just seemed to kill the Master Boot Records. Anyway, that error then happened again within a week and I’ve formatted all my drives to start fresh.

I finished downloading MSFS for the third times in three weeks earlier today. It starts up, checks updates, then moves into the load screen with the blue bar at the bottom, and then CTDs about 75% of the way through–I never even make it to the main menu. Since it’s a fresh Windows and a fresh install of the game, I’m out of ideas on what might be causing it. CrystalDisk shows hard drives are healthy and have not overtemped. Before the first drive crashed I’ve flown hundreds of hours without issue. Other games currently run just fine, including other Windows Store games.

Provide Screenshot(s)/video(s) of the issue encountered:

Detail steps to reproduce the issue encountered:
Install Win10 Home and update to latest version, install and update all drivers, install MSFS, start MSFS, CTD

PC specs for those who want to assist (if not entered in your profile)
2060 Super, 64GB DDR4, Ryzen 9 3900X, 2x 1TB M.2 drives, 1440p 165Hz monitor

Did you submit this to Zendesk? If so, what is your ticket #?
Not yet, checking to see if anyone can suggest a solution first.

You’ve got a dying drive or dying M.2 port. Its not MSFS thats doing it, its the heavy/constant read/write for long periods of time thats triggering it. Try installing the game to JUST the Microcenter drive. Caches and all. If it works then you’ll know the WD, or whatever port its pluggin into is bad.

My front USB ports are kind of the same way. If I plug a controller, keyboard, etc. it works fine. but if I plug in a external HDD and start transferring data the drive momentarily disconnects during the transfer after anywhere from 5-60 minutes. The rear ports don’t do that.

There’s a good chance you’re right, but I have run numerous hard drive tests to check this and they all say it’s healthy. I only built this rig last August, so hopefully if it is a faulty M.2 it is still under warranty! I’m not sure how I’ll convince them though, since all benchmarks come back without a negative result. Thoughts on that?

Happened to me after SU3, it’s MSFS paths setup borked.

At least delete / remove your rolling and manual cashes, have restarted a couple of times, temporarily set these to known regular drives, HDD / SDD and such, then delete / remove these again, and then point to your M2 again.

And who knows … mine work.

(the whole (store) MSFS install is a - encrypted - virtual drive, and nothing is as usual)

Coming back to this topic in case others search for similar issues.

I did indeed have a faulty M.2 drive (The Microcenter Inland Premium, I cannot recommend it now). I replaced it with a WD Black M.2 and the issue has stopped entirely.

I have yet to reinstall MSFS, as I had to download it 5 times in March and that blew me right through my AT&T Gigabit bandwidth allowance, so I’m giving my connection a breather as I cannot afford to get a reduced speed penalty due to working from home. So I’ll reinstall next month and report back if I encounter any issues. But it’s looking like the SSD was the culprit.

I will say that I’m very unhappy at Microsoft’s insistence on adding MSFS to their encrypted and protected folder structure. If it had been the Steam version, I could have copied a backup of the install files to avoid downloading the whole thing–but the few times I gave myself permissions to get into the folder structure it caused more headaches than it solved.