If PXE boot fails with SCCM 2012

This guide covers common causes of why PXE boot sometimes fails by examining client misconfigurations, network settings, and SCCM distribution point requirements.
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Joseph Moody

Joseph Moody is a network admin for a public school system and helps manage 5,500 PCs. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Cloud and Datacenter Management and blogs at DeployHappiness.com.
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For something that seems so simple, booting PXE devices to an SCCM 2012 server can be quite complicated! In this guide, we are going to cover the many different reasons that a PXE boot can fail and how you can fix these failures.

Before we start, you should open the SMSPXE log on your distribution point. This log shows any clients trying to network boot, and you can use the log as a starting point. If you see your client listed, you can probably ignore client configuration issues. If your client isn’t listed, start with client settings first.

Client settings required for PXE boot ^

Any device attempting to network boot will have to support PXE. With some older hardware and certain models (Dell, for example), you will have to make sure the following two items are in place:

  • The network card must be enabled as a bootable device.
  • The network card must have PXE support enabled. This setting is normally found in On-board Devices within the BIOS.

While you are checking these two settings, ensure that the computer has enough RAM to load Windows PE. In Windows PE 5.1, the minimum required is 512MB. Additional RAM is required as drivers and tools are added to your Windows PE image. To be safe, we required 1GB in our environment.

Although not directly related to PXE issues, ensure that the date and time in the BIOS are very close to the actual time. If not, Windows PE will load and immediately reboot. The SMBIOS GUID may be duplicated with another machine on your network. While the machine may PXE boot, it will fail to load a task sequence. Finally, ensure that devices connected to the network cable have an active link.

DHCP or IP helper for PXE across subnets ^

After you verify your hardware settings, you can move on to the next troubleshooting layer: networking. Start by network booting a machine in the same subnet and, preferably, the same switch as your distribution point. If this works, your issue lies in the PXE broadcast and the inability for clients to locate the distribution point across subnets.

When possible, avoid using DHCP options to connect clients to a distribution point. The trouble with setting DHCP options 66 and 67 is that they increase troubleshooting complexity. For example, clients may report “PXE-E53: No boot filename received” when attempting a network boot. A client will appear to successfully PXE boot but will actually be taking a slightly longer route to failure.

The current best practice for network boots across subnets is to use IP helper addresses configured at the top network device of each subnet. For example, you would start by connecting to your core switch (or the top switch at that subnet or VLAN). For an HP switch, you would use the following commands:

If this switch had multiple VLANs configured, you would need to set the IP helper-address in each VLAN that you plan on network booting. The commands listed above (and shown in the screenshot below) are pretty universal to other switch models.

If your DHCP server is already listed as a helper address, just add your distribution point’s address after it. Each server will still respond to the appropriate requests.

Adding the IP address of the distribution point to VLAN 1.

Adding the IP address of the distribution point to VLAN 1

You should look at a few other things on this level. If you receive the error message “PXE-E51 No DHCP or proxy DHCP offers were received,” check your DHCP server. Ensure that addresses are available for lease and that the DHCP server is handing out addresses. If your DHCP server is virtual, ensure that the host is not blocking requests from getting to the DHCP server.

The DHCP guard setting in Hyper-V can cause PXE boot failures.

The DHCP guard setting in Hyper-V can cause PXE boot failures.

If you receive an error message such as PXE-E55, ensure that UDP port 4011 is open to your distribution point and is not blocked on devices between your client and server.

Is SCCM is configured for PXE support? ^

These last troubleshooting steps take place on your distribution point. The distribution point, your task sequence, and your boot media must be configured to allow PXE booting. These portions assume that the Windows Deployment Services Server service is started and running.

On the Configuration Manager console, navigate to Administration – Site Configuration – Servers and Site System Roles. Right-click the distribution point and select its properties. On the PXE tab, make sure that the Enable PXE support for clients check box is selected, along with the two check boxes that follow it.

Enabling PXE support on a distribution point.

Enabling PXE support on a distribution point

Next, check the deployment settings of your task sequence. The Make available to the following setting should include PXE.

This task sequence is only available to clients that boot off of media or PXE.

This task sequence is only available to clients that boot off of media or PXE.

Finally, open the properties of the boot image that your task sequence uses. On the Data Source tab, ensure that the Deploy this boot image from a PXE-enabled distribution point check box is selected. If not, select it; then, select the Content Locations tab and redistribute your boot image.

This boot image is PXE-enabled from the distribution point.

This boot image is PXE-enabled from the distribution point.

As you can see, troubleshooting PXE boot issues can be quite difficult. Many areas exist where the process can break down and cause problems. In this guide, we covered the major issues that I’ve encountered over the years. What PXE-related issues have you faced?

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  1. avatar
    Jose 12 months ago


    I am running server 2012R2 and SCCM 2012 R2. I was troubleshooting the task sequence issue(that could have been easily fixed by time sync) and I believe I made a change and can not resolve or figure out the fix. I may have inadvertantly selected HTTPS for the distribution point and now it will not PXE boot correctly. I did however try loading the images directly to the WDS server and was able to get it to boot but can not get it to communicated through SCCM as it should.

  2. avatar
    Ata 9 months ago

    You saved my life Joseph, thank you very much...

  3. Profile gravatar of Joseph Moody Author
    Joseph Moody 9 months ago

    Anytime Ata!

  4. avatar
    Shyam 9 months ago

    Hi Joseph,

    I am having trouble with PXE boot  with UEFI based machines

    we are using Symantec Ghost solution suite for all our deployment tasks

    the legacy pxe is working fine its just with UEFI causing problem

    we have options set for 66 and 67 on DHCP

    ghost server IP

    DHCP server IP

    Client IP 10.1.70.xxx

    Under DHCP 66 option set to which is ghost server

    Under DHCP 67 option set to BStrap\X86pc\bstrap.0( which works for leagacy)

    if i remove this the legacy pxe is also not working

    If i change option 67 to BStrap\X86pc\bstrap.efi (the UEFI pxe doesnt work)

    the client is not getting the TFTP file to load from the ghost

    The only solution symantec has provided is to use ip-helper

    we have our core switch has HP pro curve

    the other switches on different buildings are cisco switches connecting to main core switch

    My question is do i have to configure ip-helper on each cisco switch and core switch(HP)

    or just configure ip helper on core switch only
    Config terminal
    Vlan 1
    IP helper-address <IPADDRESS_OF_DISTRIBUTIONPOINT>( ip address of ghost or DHCP)


  5. Profile gravatar of Joseph Moody Author
    Joseph Moody 9 months ago

    You would configure ip helper on the top switch/router of the VLAN.

    when a device is pxe booting, it sends out a broadcast. Your router won't let broadcast go from one broadcast domain (vlan) to another one. If the pxe server isn't in the same vlan as the client, the broadcast is never forwarded to it.

  6. avatar
    Dilip 8 months ago

    I have 8 DPs in different locations in two different domains with two different DHCP Servers.How should I go about it.


  7. avatar
    sid 8 months ago

    Hello ,

    I have a issue in imaging after change in a subnet of machines where machine used to be imaged .
    All machines are failing at step looking for policy.

    SCCM 2012 R2 SP1 CU4
    Any help would be appreciated !!!

  8. Profile gravatar of Joseph Moody Author
    Joseph Moody 8 months ago

    If you right click on the machine account in SCCM, do you see a deployment being sent to it? If not - can you provide some more details on how you are deploying your OS? Mandatory assignments? Unknown or known computers?

  9. avatar
    Garrett 6 months ago


    I'm trying to create a build and capture task sequence. When I PXE boot the client that I intend to capture, I get this error:

    PXE-E32: TFTP open timeout

    When I look at SMSPXE.log, it doesn't show anything indicating that a client is attempting to contact the deployment server.

    Here's the interesting part! On the distribution point properties, the PXE tab is configured exactly like you're showing (except for a password requirement), but if I open up Server Manager, it does not show that the WDS role is installed. It's been my understanding that WDS is installed automatically when you enable PXE support. I can install the WDS role manually from server manager, but I'm afraid that since it wasn't installed automatically, that something else may be wrong. Some detail, I did uninstall and reinstall WSUS, so maybe I got rid of WDS at the same time? Instead of reinstalling it manually, would it be better to disable and re-enable PXE? Uninstall and reinstall the DP? This site isn't in production yet so my options are pretty much open.

    Thanks for your posts!



  10. avatar
    Tony Bailey 6 months ago

    Hi Garett,


    You need to install the WDS role with default config, then when you add the role through SCCM it will configure it.




  11. avatar
    Deepak Sengupta 4 months ago


    I am in process of setting up a pxe environment for Windows 7 SP1 x64 machines in my company. Wanted to know can I only use IP Helper to connect client to Distribution points, without using any options in DHCP ? My environment is running on SCCM 2012 R2 SP1 integrated with MDT.

    Thanks a lot for your time.

  12. Profile gravatar of Joseph Moody Author
    Joseph Moody 4 months ago

    Yes - it is a best practice to only use an ip helper statement.


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