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System is stuck in a looping restart and never reaches a Windows 10 login before restarting.  Perhaps since Win10 update

Over the last two weeks, I've had a number of Windows 10 computers go into a looping restart.  Upon system power up, a Windows logo appears for a short bit with a dotted whirligig... the screen clears and is followed by a second dotted whirligig... after another short bit, the screen clears and the system drive activity light flashes for some 20 - 30 seconds before the system restarts and the sequence begins again.  This looping restart continues until power is removed from the system.

I've tried booting from a Windows 10 installation CD and running Repair.  Startup Repair does nothing.  System Restore does not remedy the looping restart.  Chkdsk with /r does nothing.  The one time I was able to get the option to start in Safe Mode, the looping restart prevailed.  On earlier systems, I simply restored from backups.  On this particular system, it has no backup to recover to.  Yes... I've created a full image backup of the drive so I can recover data.  But I'd like to think that I made every possible recovery attempt before I perform a clean Windows install, return the client's data and inform them that they'll need to reinstall programs, printers, email, settings, etc. that are now lost for good.

Any ideas?  I have a stinking suspicion that this won't be the last of these symptom computers that I see.

Thanks for reading and giving thought to this!!

Jim
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Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
When booting from install media, bcdedit, bootrec much depends on what it is doing before restart
Did you try going to a prior snapshot/restore point.?

Author

Commented:
I did.  And it said that it restored correctly.  But the bootup loop persists even after that restore of 01/19/20... and there were no other restore points listed.

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
This suggests that on 1/19 you likely had a major update 1909 possibly that got interrupted.
To complicate matters, the cause for the reboot, ..did you tests hardware to make sure something in the hardware is causing the reboot?
Reseat memory/graphics card....

Author

Commented:
Previously ran full diagnostics.  Motherboard, memory and SSD all pass tests.  Graphics is built into CPU.
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
When in repair console while booting, ch cl the c drive for Windows and Windows.old  dates .....

One possibility is to consider if ... Rename Windows to Windows.failed while renaming Windows.old to Windows.
Make sure before you try that the image you created can be accessed .....

Author

Commented:
I don't see a Windows.old.  But I liked that thought!

Jim

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Commented:
One of the client reported symptoms prior to the looping restart was that the system would occasionally turn off for no apparent reason.  The system is 5 years old so my suspicion was the power supply.  Voltage testing shows all rails within spec... though that doesn't necessarily mean that the power supply isn't the problem source.  To tie into an earlier comment of yours, an update might have been interrupted with the system inadvertently powering off.

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
See if the following helps to try and repair boot...

https://www.windowsdigitals.com/windows-rollback-loop-after-update-windows-10/

Author

Commented:
I was very hopeful of that link.  There were commands I had not yet issued.  I followed instructions... using E: instead of C: as that we the drive letter in the command mode that I was in.  Unfortunately, the same looping restart remains.

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
Trying to get windowsupdate log get-windowsupdatelog powershell cmdlet would help to see..

Determining what causes the loop, possibly editing the registry ...

Author

Commented:
Excellent idea.  And thanks for the command line.  I'm going to call it a night and won't return to this until later in the afternoon (Eastern Time).  Thanks for sticking with me on this!!

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
I had a similar issue with a server 2012 machine a month ago, booting into safe mode resolved the issue

Couldn't hurt to try

After powering on the PC (after the post beep) press (F8) every 1 second or so. After it posts hardware information and performs its memory test you should get a boot menu

Just a FWI, it can be tricky to get to it. Took me 9 attempts so be patient

Author

Commented:
I am at a Command Prompt.  I can get there two ways... one by powering on, waiting for the first Windows logo and whirligig to show and powering off.  If I do that 2 or 3 times, it will begin performing an automatic repair.  From there I can move through screens to the Command Prompt.  Or, I can boot from a Windows 10 installation CD and select repair.  What I have been unable to do is perform any PowerShell commands.  I suspect I've got Administrator privileges so PowerShell simply must not exist on this computer.

I can't run the SFC /scannow with parameters without getting - "Windows Resource Protection could not start the repair service."

And DISM is, I believe, a PowerShell command.

Can I make some type of Windows PE boot disk (USB or CD) that would incorporate the items that I'm missing?  Or is there another better way to continue attempts with this computer?

Thanks to all of you who are contributing to help with my issue... and particularly to arnold who stayed up late (1AM) with me last night (though it might already have been the next day for him).

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
dism is not a powershell command, but it needs to exist. the times a restart loop existed the steps outlined were sufficient by either resetting the bootrec or the roll back of receovery point to a time before the recent update
dism /clean-image /checkhealth and then /restorehealth .....

are presumably the guidance for dism.
It might be that you have to get the drive to a working system to run dism /offline for repair ........ but fortunately, I did not encounter such a persistent ....... to advance.

double check the image you took is mountable and acessible on another system.
reinstall windows 10 , applications, and then copy the data from the backup ......which should get you back in operation within less than a couple of hours.

Author

Commented:
Yep... you're absolutely right.  I could just suck it up and admit defeat, perform a fresh, clean install... bring over the data from backup... give it back and say, "Sorry that you have to reinstall the programs, printers, email, settings, etc., but at least you didn't lose your data."  The issue is really MY issue.  I have difficulty saying "enough!" and just doing what you suggest.  Its not like I don't have a whole lot of other work in line after this that needs my attention.

Anyway, thanks arnold!  I appreciate the time you took to help.  Enjoy the weekend, good sir!

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019
Commented:
As you noted with my suggestions, I too try to get to the bottom of the cause/exhausting all other possible venues/approaches.


you could restore the registry and application specific needs i.e .the DLL...

the issue is whether the registry have a run once directive to restart that does not get cleared and that is the cause of the issue.
i.e. system loads in the registry of hkey local machine \software\microsoft\windows\currentversion\runonce there is a task it needs to run, that finalizes the update but it does not clear the event before the restart

You could try the F8 when you get it to enable the boot loging option to see what/where the restart is triggered and by what.

Same to you and good luck..

Author

Commented:
We didn't resolve this without having to reinstall Windows.  I appreciate that help from all.

Jim

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the help, all!

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
did you runn dism from the prompt?  not clear if you tried

Author

Commented:
nobus - I did try your suggestion of DISM.  I kept receiving an error.  I'm sorry but I don't remember what the error was, but I tried several times.  I believe I even did a google search of the error.  The bottom line was that I was unable to get it to work. I have not yet reformatted that drive.  I'm working on another system at the moment (trying to move raid 1 arrays to single ssd in a server and it is kicking my tail).  When time allows, I'll put that looping restart system back on the bench and report that error.

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
>>   I'm sorry but I don't remember what the error wa s  <<  you should have copied it down, and posted it here
i cannot help you without info -

Author

Commented:
nobus - that system is back on the bench.  I'm ready to wipe it and start anew but wanted to take a moment to walk through your suggestions.  You provided me a link of tasks that end with DISM.  BCDedit shows the D: is the OSDEVICE.  I get my first hang on the SFC line with the following error:
"Windows Resource Protection could not start the repair service."

When I try to run the DISM command specified, I get another error.  I've attached a pic of both command lines and error messages.

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
no pic to see

Author

Commented:
nobus,

I don't know what to tell you.  I was pretty sure that it attached.  I needed to move forward with this and wiped the drive and reinstalled Win10 3 hours ago.  Know that I do appreciate your willingness to help.

Jim
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
no problem Jim - we all have to do what we have to do