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Vista Upgrade Loop configuring step 3 of 3

Posted on 2011-10-01
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I have been trying to upgrade a vista PC with regular windows updates. When I do so on the final step '3 of 3 configuring updates', the PC gets stuck in an reboot loop.

I see this is a common problem. I have no problem doing a restore and putting the PC back to the day prior, I have done it several times already. My question is how do I get past this and get the updates sucessfully installed. To be honest, it has been 2 and half years since I have been able to install updates, and I would like to get up to date.

What information would be needed to assist?
Question by:JDCam
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 36896328
If you haven't successfully run any updates for over 2.5 years, my guess is that your system is compromised. Personally I'd do a reinstall or factory restore of the system. Once that is done make sure you change ALL your passwords (email accounts, messaging accounts etc.).

Maybe it is also worth running malwarebytes on it, but I wouldn't bother and prefer starting with a clean slate:
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 36897566
Starting with a clean slate is always the best solution, but if you don't want to do that, here is how to fix your infamous 0% Stage 3 of 3 reboot loop:

Download and burn a copy of The Ultimate Boot Disc for Windows it’s a useful tool to have for these and other kinds of windows problems.

Boot from the disc and in the menu that pops up choose Ultimate Boot Disc for Windows

Select the “Computer” or “My Computer” icon. This will launch a folder with a list of all of your drives. Select the drive that contains your windows installation.

   1. Click on the Windows folder.
   2. Click on the Winsxs folder.
   3. Find the file pending.xml.
   4. Right click>Properties.
   5. Go to the Permissions tab and give yourself full control over the file.
   6. Click Apply.
   7. Rename pending.xml

Once you rename the “pending.xml” file windows no longer looks to it for instructions to install updates and we are free to boot into windows normally.

The next time you download updates that need to be installed Windows will recreate the pending.xml file with new correct updates and you’ll be good to go. Once you get into Windows don’t forget to download and install Update for Windows Vista (KB937287 the Windows update fix.

Author Comment

ID: 36897641
I think a full reinstall is a little drastic. There is nothing to make me think the machine is comprimised or corrupt.

Jim-R, as I described I have no problem fixing the loop problem. Issue is the updates never get applied, Ieaving me with an out of date machine. My goal is to get the patches applied.

A simple google search shows this is a widespread problem and appears to be specific to SP1 for vista. Lots of advice how to break the 3 of 3 loop, but very little on hot to get SP1 to install. I did find an article that said to install KB937287 on its own first prior to SP1, but when I tried it said it was not for my system.

Another thought was to upgrade to Win7. when I ran the pre upgrade checker program It said I must install vista SP1 before proceeding .... back to the same problem
LVL 88

Accepted Solution

rindi earned 2000 total points
ID: 36897681
If you didn't get updates for more than 2 years you have missed all the security patches, of which there were many. That means your PC was wide open to attacks during that time. It makes little difference whether you are running a good antivirus and antimalware tool, or a firewall, it's almost 99% certain that PC's that haven't been patched are compromised, particularly as this PC has been in such a situation for such a long time.

Also, it isn't bad to start with a new installation now and then, as lots of unneeded junk will have accumulated in that time, which makes the system slow. 2.5 years is a good time frame for that.

This makes make emphasize a new installation even more. Of course a windows 7 installation is even the better option, as that OS is much better than Vista. If Vista runs on that PC Windows 7 will almost certainly run too, and probably better, as it requires less hardware resources than Vista.

You can always download a trial version of Windows 7 from the M$ technet site and test it on your PC before you buy it (I suggest installing it to a 2nd HD, or maybe on a USB stick for the trial period).

Author Closing Comment

ID: 36981116
PC was reloaded as suggested. All is working fine now.

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