Server 2016 Spinning Circle on Boot

Mike LaForest
Mike LaForest used Ask the Experts™
on
I am having an issue with a Server 2016 Server will not boot up. Just spinning Circle. This server is run in a Vmware ESXi 5.5 Host. This server did not come back up from running updates last night. I can get into safe mode, but in regular mode, it will not boot up. I have let it running all day and I haven't gotten anywhere. I have looked on the web for this issue and i see similar posts, but no fixes have worked. We use an image based backup called Replibit. It works similar to Datto. I can virtualize this server on our backup server. Concerning problem is, I went back to last nights backup Before it updated windows and that backup is not booting up. Same thing. I tried to do a restore to my other ESXi 6.5 host and same thing. I even went back 1 month and tried to boot that image and same thing. I am at a loss here and this server is business Critical.

What I have tried so far:
Removing the Network Card from ESXi and other devices like CD ROM
Disabled Driver Signature Enforcement
Last Known Good

Since I restored this server to another host and i have backups, I can safely try anything as i can just restore back and try again. But it's a race against time. The original server i have still booting up on my ESXi 5.5 Host just to see if it will.  I am going to pull the event logs and post them here after I send this as I can get into safemode with networking. Any help is greatly appreciated!!
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Ben Personick (Previously QCubed)Lead SaaS Infrastructure Engineer

Commented:
what roles and features on the server?

try disabling trusted installer and winrm services and see if it becomes bootable
Mike LaForestIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Just File and Storage Services and IIS. I will try Disabling these services and let you know. Are you interested in seeing the event logs?
James BunchSystems Engineer

Commented:
What type of server is this, Dell R610 or something similar?

Go into BIOS and disable Virtualization. Then try to boot again and see if that makes a difference? I have a Dell R610 test lab and while playing around on the Host after enabling Hyper-V roles it would boot loop forever. After some research I found that there is a specific Microsoft KB update that has to be installed before a Hypervisor can be installed and used and if its missing you have follow this route.

Disable Virtualization in BIOS, reboot. Uninstall the role or services, reboot. Then install that MS KB for the fix, then reboot. Then turn everything back on. After this, it works just fine.

This may not be your problem but it was mine and it was very similar to what you see.
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Mike LaForestIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Hi James, This is running in a Vmware Environment. ESX 5.5. I tried to restore the VM to a 6.5 host and its doing same thing. I went back to a backup from 5/31 and it is not booting either. But I just tried booting the oldest backup which was from last yer and it came up. I haven't really changed too much on this server recently. Just normal patching. The Server is Running Connectwise Automate. Formally called Labtech
Kenza CohenIT Solutions Provider

Commented:
Have you tried rightclicking on the VM and upgrading the VM Version in case of incompatibilities.

Another option would be to mount the server 2016 image and run startup repair.

Failing that run the recovery console and issue the SFC /scannow command as follows:

sfc /scannow /offbootdir=c:\ /offwindir=c:\windows
Ben Personick (Previously QCubed)Lead SaaS Infrastructure Engineer

Commented:
upgrading the VM Version in case of incompatibilities.

While well-meaning this won't have any meaningful effect for the VM, if that was at issue the system woudl not be allowed ot boot by the ESXi server, and it requires the VM having been upgraded, and having settings changed passed the limits of the old HW Version (more memory/cpu/disk size etc than previously) and then having the old vmx file restored over it.

Again, its a nice thought but not applicable so I don't want OP to waste time on it.
Kenza CohenIT Solutions Provider

Commented:
This reminds me of a Windows 10/8 Issue i have came accross a few times.
Boot into Command Prompt from Windows Recovery Environment then try the following.

To get into the Recovery Environment you can power the VM off 3 or 4 times using Turn off rather than shutdown and it should tell you it had a problem booting.

C:
dir (make sure you see PerfLogs, Windows, Users etc.)
cd /windows/system32/config
MD backup
copy *.* backup
cd regback

Open in new window

(See if the files have values next to them and not 0's, If they have positive values do the following)
copy *.* ..
If prompted for Overwrite select A
once copied type exit and hit enter
select continue

Open in new window


Typo fixed in the above
Mike LaForestIT Manager

Author

Commented:
Finally back on this. I appreciate the suggestions. The Vm I restored to has latest VM hardware version. I also tried the commands to copy the reg files back. Didn't work. I am actually working in 3 separate Virtual environments right now with the same server running so i can troubleshoot faster. I am trying the sfc /scannow, but i have never had any luck with running that in the 17 years I been doing this. Its worth a shot though. This morning, I did get one to boot up in normal mode, but I was trying to startup the services and I guess it bluescreened and rebooted. I didn't see it happen. I guess my plan is to try to restore from a backup that will boot up. i did find one this morning, but it's a few days back which is not exactly ideal, but I just want this server back up. I just wish I knew what was wrong.
Kenza CohenIT Solutions Provider

Commented:
If you can get it up and running again Mike it may be worth doing a MSCONFIG and enabling clean boot then checking the error logs to see if it is a service bombing it out.

If not mount the Virtual Disk and grab the event logs off the system and use event log explorer to see the contents.

If you can still get into safe mode, you can msconfig and enable clean boot there.
Mike LaForestIT Manager

Author

Commented:
True, I can get into Safe Mode. I'll try it.
IT Manager
Commented:
Update on this: i was able to remove older updates Using DISM utility booting off Server 2016 disk and fixing anything DISM was complaining about. I ended up doing that on my original installation and rebooted. 18 hours later it came up and is up and running. Still don't know why it took that long to boot and I am afraid that this will happen again next month. This server cannot be down as long as it has so i am going to leave it be for now. I will log into it when I get the courage and the time is right, i will add to this solution as it seems there is no solution on the web that works. I will share some great posts to how to fix DISM when running the \Restorehealth command as Microsofts instructions DO NOT work when adding the \Sources switch.

This worked as far as fixing DISM
https://www.tenforums.com/performance-maintenance/29259-error-0x800f081f-when-running-dism-need-help.html

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