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What Does "Media Test Failure, Check Cable" Mean?

"I've had a lot of difficulty starting up my lap top for about a month. I keep getting a message that says "Media Test Failure, check cable"."

That message is caused by one of several things.  It could be a bad "BIOS" or an iminent hard disk drive failure.  It could also be due to a non-bootable floppy disk or CD that you've left inserted. 

Before you do ANYTHING else you need to do a backup of your computer.  If you can get it to boot up and run then plug in an external hard disk drive into a USB port and copy all your important files from your "My Documents" section over to the external hard drive.  See this article on how to do that...

Note:  You can't simply open "My Documents" and copy the folders and files.  That won't work!  It will copy a SHORTCUT to the files instead of copying the files themselves.  You must open your C: drive, go to Documents and Settings, go to "Your Name", then go to "My Documents".  That's where the actual documents are located.  Once you open that up then you copy those folders and files over to your external hard drive.

After you have copied them to the external hard drive then you can verify they are really there by plugging it into another computer and making sure it sees those files too.  I may seem paranoid about this but you don't want to lose all your digital photos and embroidery files and everything else.  Also - if you have stored any documents anywhere on your hard drive outside of My Documents then you'll have to copy those over too.

Now that you've backed up everything important you can move on to fixing the problem...

If you have a CD in the CD drive then take it out and try rebooting.  If you have a floppy disk in the floppy drive then remove it and try rebooting.  A non-bootable disk in one of those two drives will give you that error message.

My guess is that you couldn't be so lucky as to have it be a CD or floppy inserted.  So the next step is to update your computer's BIOS.  Here's how...'s-BIOS

If that didn't fix the problem then I'm afraid it's your hard drive going bad on you.  Here's a really good bit of news though... you can have the hard drive replaced on your laptop for less than the cost of a new laptop. 

Ask the Geek Squad for pricing on this.  You'll need a couple of things done...

1) Install new hard drive
2) Install your operating system onto the new hard drive

I recently had them do this same work. It was about $150 for the operating system installation, $49 for the hard drive install, and $130 for the new 320-gb hard drive.  That was a total of $330 for the whole thing.  That was a lot cheaper than a new laptop of equivalent quality which would have been $1,700 plus tax.

The expensive part of this is re-installing (moving) the operating system from the old hard drive to the new one.  If you can do that yourself then the cost is just the price of a new hard drive.  And you can get smaller hard drives for less money.  You may find an 80-gb laptop drive for $80 or so but I'd go with at least a 120-gb or 160-gb hard drive.

-- Larry


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