F12 Preboot Diagnostics

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Video >2010 Systems

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For newer systems (~2010 or later) the diagnostics are all onboard, contained within the system BIOS.

For older systems (~ before 2010) the extended diagnostics were contained on a diagnostics partition on the hard drive which could be removed during manual installation or inaccessible if the hard drive failed thus it is recommended to make a diagnostics bootable USB or CD.

Newer Systems

To run the F12 Pre-Boot diagnostics, power down your computer. Wait 10 seconds, power it back up and press F12 at the Dell BIOs screen (pictured).

1. Dell BIOS

Select Diagnostics by using the [↓] and [↑] keys and then press enter. When prompted run the express test, alongside any extended tests.

Older Systems

Note many older systems had a diagnostics partition on the hard drive, if this partition is removed by reinstallation of the Operating System or if the hard drive is damaged the extended tests will be unable to run and you will get an error message saying the system can’t boot to the diagnostics utility.

In such cases these extended tests can be run off a CD or a USB (really old systems won’t boot from a USB).

To run the diagnostics on such systems please download the following file (on a working system) A1394A0. Run the .exe

2. CW1394A0

Extract to the default location

3. CW1394A0Once the files extract navigate to this folder and run the DDDP program (if it doesn’t automatically run)

4. CW1390A

The DDDP program will now run

5. CW1390A

Select Create a Bootable CD or Install to a USB Flash Drive. The CD/DVD is usually more reliable.

Once you have made the diagnostics CD/DVD or USB stick insert the CD/DVD or plug the USB stick into your problem system.

Power down your computer if not already powered down and wait at least 10 seconds before powering it back up. Hold F12 while powering up your computer (at the Dell BIOs screen).

1. Dell BIOS

Select boot from CD/DVD or from USB respectively.

Run the extended diagnostics and tests.

Error Codes

If diagnostics fail you will be given an error code, common error codes are listed in Beep Codes and PSA Diagnostic Charts an excellent wiki wrote on the Dell Community Forums by SpeedStep.

One of the most common problems is hard drive failure. If cannot locate your error or don’t know how to address it make a new post in the Disk Drives forum (if you know it is to do with your Hard Drive), Desktop General Hardware forum or Laptop General Hardware forum.

Older Systems – Recreating the Diagnostics Partition

Newer systems have all their preboot diagnostics incorporated as part of the UEFI BIOS. Most Dell systems with a Legacy BIOS had only the basic tests inbuilt into the Legacy BIOS and required a separate partition (or Bootable media) to run the extended tests.

Personally I don’t recreate the diagnostics partition on such systems as I find the HDD the most likely component to fail. Relying on diagnostics installed on a failed component is a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

Creating the Diagnostics partition is relatively difficult if you aren’t using Dell Backup and Recovery on a Factory Image. The diagnostics partition can be however created before OS installation with the Media Direct DVD. For more details see Preparing your Hard Drive: Setting Up Media Direct on Dell Systems.

If your system is not a Media Direct system you can delete Disk 0 Partition 2 and Disk 0 Partition 3: MEDIADIRECT during Windows OS installation and recreate a new partition to reclaim the 2 GB of space. I have tested this procedure on a Latitude D820, OptiPlex 745, 755 and 760 which all aren’t Media Direct systems.


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12 thoughts on “F12 Preboot Diagnostics

  1. Does this software works on 32/64bit wind 8.1 aswell?Got dell precession 380 tower trying to access
    f12 menu but cant nothing happens blank screen.

    1. If diagnostics media is made its bootable within the Legacy BIOS otherwise some of the diagnostic tests are inbuilt into the BIOS.

      If you cannot press F12, hold down the power button for 30 s and then remove the AC cable. Then plug it back in and power up and tap F12 repeatedly. Use a Dell wired keyboard if possible.

  2. My laptop is preparing automatic repair and some seconds, after diognosing your Pc and start over again. please help

  3. I have tried everything. I dont know if my son completely wiped out the computer but when i turn it on it goes to Processing Reortation. You click the green to agree and the Error 1 pops up. I have pics that i can send to you. How do i get this computer to work. Its a Dell Latitude D630

  4. Hi,
    I’m using dell mini inspiron 1012 laptop.. While booting it shows pxe-e61,pxe-m0f,os not found msg is shown on a block screen I tried a lot pls help me to come over from it…..

  5. Hi,
    I’m using dell mini inspiron laptop.. While booting it shows pxe-e61,pxe-m0f,os not found msg is shown on a block screen I tried a lot old help me to come over from it…..

    1. PXE-E61: Media test failure, check cable

      PXE-M0F: Exiting Broadcom PXE ROM

      Operating system not found.

      From others on the forums. First check there is nothing in the card reader. Then try to power up as normal.

      If it still displays. Power up your Dell and press [ F12 ] does your Hard Drive display on the boot menu?

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