If you encounter any network connectivity disruptions while using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to image a PC, it can result in a random series of issues, such as the SCCM task sequence not being able to complete or stopping at different intervals.
Since joining a domain is often part of the task sequence, the interruption can leave orphaned items in your device collection that cause problems when you try the imaging process again with the same PC. A resulting Windows Boot Manager error is the one seen below, which reads:
Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause.
Info: The Boot Configuration Data for your PC is missing or contains errors.
While one might be inclined to think this is a local issue with the notebook itself, keep in mind that you’re booting to the network and so the boot device, in this case, is the server you’ve configured to support PXE boot. In other words, the problem is on the server end.
If you get the error above, open SCCM and go to Devices where it shows all the computers on your network that have interacted with System Center. You’re going to be looking for two things. First, locate the PC name of the machine with the issues and delete it from the list. Second, scroll down for anything listed as “Unknown” and also remove it, as this will be the orphaned object leftover from the disrupted imaging process.
You should also check Active Directory to make sure the computer name isn’t already registered in there, as this can cause some errors if the name already exists when you try to join via a System Center task sequence.
After clearing the PC name from SCCM Devices and AD, restart the computer and try network booting again, and it should connect and go through the complete PXE boot process without error.
This error was specifically experienced on a Dell Latitude 5300 2-n-1 notebook PC using the WD19 docking station. The 5300 model does not have an onboard Ethernet connection, and the docking station connects using a hybrid USB-C/Thunderbolt port that can sometimes fall asleep during the image process. Make sure you run Dell’s built-in software update app, Dell Command Update, to get the latest firmware updates that are supposed to help correct this problem.
Take hold of your future.