Solved Realtek PXE-E61: media test failure, check cable

November 7, 2012 at 19:31:28
Specs: Windows 7 Home Premium 64, i7 6GB

Toshiba Satellite P750 Laptop. Win 7 Home Premium 64bit. 6GB RAM. 500GB Toshiba HDD.
When PC goes into a reboot (which it does for no apparent reason up to several times per day) it displays "Intel UNDI PXE-2.1 (build 083). Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller Series v2.35 (06/14/10). PXE-E61: Media Test Failure, check cable. PXE-MOF: Exiting PXE ROM. Reboot & select proper boot device . . . "
In normal Windows operation, Windows sometimes reports that HDD has problems and recommends an immediate data backup. Win Backup crashed part way through with above Realtek Msg following reboot.
Eventually rebooted successfully and ran C:>Properties>Tools>Check Now, with both boxes ticked. No errors coming up on HDD.
No problems booting from any of several Utility Boot CDs and running HDD diagnostics. All pass. Memory also passes.
AVG Rescue CD (latest AV library download) reports no viruses. Again, no problem recognising HDD & running a full AV scan of all partitions on the HDD (partition set up has not been altered from default ex-factory).
Loaded Mini XP OS from CD, installed and used SyncBack with no issues to backup all user data to external HDD.
No problem booting to HDD Factory Recovery partition from F12 Setup and reloading Windows. However, the latter stage of Factory Recovery on Toshiba requires several reboots. Immediately back into the Realtek issue above, with multiple attempts needed to get a successful boot to HDD. HDD and memory removed, connectors cleaned and reseated. No change. Boot error still occurring. Up to stage 14 of 71 of the processes following initial Win 7 factory reinstall. But very slow going with several reboots required each time reinstall progresses to the next stage.
I can understand that the Realtek error most likely is because boot order is CD, HDD, (or have also tried HDD, CD), USB, LAN and boot up is not always recognising HDD so "falls through" to LAN and obviously fails. Suspect that is what Realtek error is about (fail to boot from LAN). Sometimes get a better result if I manually select HDD in Boot Setup via F12, but still not consistent.
I note from forums there are a lot of people having this same Realtek error issue, so some realistic feedback from a more advanced tecchie would be helpful to more people than just me. Given this is a laptop, please no comments that apply only to desktops and remember this is a Toshiba Hard Disk so Seatools will not work, etc.
Seems to be a failing hard disk issue but reticent to try an expensive replacement, given that three different HDD tests have come up with no faults and HDD works faultlessly when accessing via Linux or Mini XP OSs from CD. Both before and after factory reinstall, Paragon Partition Manager CD reports no issues in recognising all partitions on HDD and all HDD parameters appear as expected for successful boot from HDD. (Partitions not altered from factory setup).
Am I missing something simple in the above? Or is it off to the Laptop factory for more advanced testing and repair?

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November 8, 2012 at 01:30:30
✔ Best Answer

I would consider the problem is not related to software at all but must be in the hardware chain so let's think about the possibilities:
1. The hard drive itself might be faulty. Your diagnostics tests have not revealed any issues with it once it is detected and running and the only way to be certain would be to attach another known good drive. Install an operating system on it and see if you still get the boot /reboot error.
2. If we presume there is nothing wrong with the drive then the next link in the chain is the cable connecting it to the motherboard. Does it have separate connections for power & data? Not sure in laptops there is even a cable. It may plug directly into a header connection on the motherboard and that is the next possibility:
3. the motherboard may have an intermittent fault associated with the drive connection/controller. Such faults would generally not be easy to identify or correct and would probably require replacement of the motherboard.

From your description of symptoms and the lack of any data corruption I suspect the problem is restricted to the power circuits.

Goin' Fishin' (Some day)

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November 8, 2012 at 05:20:45

It certainly sounds like a failing HDD.

Try CrystalDiskInfo & see what it finds:

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November 11, 2012 at 21:36:30

Indeed turned out to be the hard drive. In case it helps others, the drive was partitioned with a small hidden boot up partition ahead of the main Windows Partition and another hidden Windows recovery partition. Hence, booting from CD and running a backup of user data from the C Partition, or running Check Now (ChkDsk/Scan Disk) on C, indicated no issues with the drive. It appears the fault was with an area used by the boot partition and that the state of this was that Windows sometimes could read it but not always. If the read failed on boot up, then the PC would attempt to boot from the Boot on LAN option listed lower in the BIOS Boot Setup. Of course this would fail (no boot process available on LAN), with the previously listed PXE-E61: Media Test Failure error.
Backed up user data. After a long & laborious process, eventually managed to reload Windows from the Recovery Partition and run Toshiba's tools (unfortunately these are only available when in Windows rather than from boot options).
By accessing SMART listings on the HD, this indcated that the disk did indeed need to be replaced.
Used Paragon Back up & Recovery to take an image of the disk.
Bought a new HD and used Paragon to load all partitions from the disk image. Also repaired the boot sector and had to change some of the partition settings (Active/Inactive, Viewable to Hidden).
Re-started PC. Even better than brand new (7200rpm drive instead of 5400). No recurrence of the PXE-E61: Media Test Failure error after many reboots.
Only downside of course is that now begins the process of re-loading all my Office and other programs.
Still, this appears to be the only way to do it. Could have backed up System Image with all programs loaded, but this just brings over any software issues from the old HD. Better to set it up nice and fresh. Takes a little more time but saves time in long run.

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November 12, 2012 at 05:20:02

Thanks for letting us know the outcome.

Goin' Fishin' (Some day)

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January 22, 2013 at 17:48:07

mine is doing the EXACT same thing. I have a lenovo n ive been messing with this thing for no lie like 8 months. It starts sometimes but most of the time it does'nt and is hard to get through.. I don't know exactly what to do and would like some help instead of paying $100 or more dollars.. your help would be very much appreciated

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