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Windows 7: Safe Mode Reboot Loop

23 Sep 2012   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Safe Mode Reboot Loop

Hi All,

I have a strange problem. My Windows 7 ultimate x64 is rebooting itself at the welcome/logon screen, in safe mode only. Normal mode is fine.

The reboot happens instantly, after a few seconds at the welcome screen, the screen goes black and the system is rebooted as though I had hit the "reboot" button on the case, with no clean shutdown taking place.

I am at a loss to know what could be starting in safe mode, that _doesn't_ start in normal mode, to cause this.

I have recently done a repair install of windows (the problem was there before that), I have tried replacing the safe mode parts of the registry with clean ones downloaded from an AV vendor website (mcafee if I remember correctly), and have tried doing sfc /scannow which resulted in a corrupted boot.sdi being replaced with the archived copy. None of these have fixed the problem.

Obviously, given that I have a usable normal mode, and good backups, this isn't the biggest problem ever, but it would be nice to get it fixed especially for the next time I need to fix a dodgy driver install or similar.

Can anyone help suggest what I can check next, particularly in regards to understanding the startup process and what will be loading at the welcome screen that might be causing the reboot.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Sep 2012   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower

Hello BorisTheSpider Welcome to the Seven Forums!

Downloading parts of the registry wasn't a good move from the start. When booting in Safe Mode you shouldn't be seeing any problems since only the bare essentials in Windows are loading to begin with.

The actual best solution anyone could offer for this would be either restoring a full system image if you made one while Windows was in 100% working order or plan a clean install to get everything back to normal again. Apparently the repair attempts have not fared well for you.

The other tool not mentioned so far you can try out but wouldn't solve the not able to boot in safe mode problem would be scheduling a run of the Check Disk tool. That will scan the main drive for errors but not fix any deep problems in the system registry. A fresh registry seen with a clean install still comes up as the best move.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Sep 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64


Thanks for the reply.

Reinstalling clean really isn't an option - I have too much time invested in setting up and configuring software (particularly FSX) to do that, and in any case, I have a working normal mode and good backups.

I think I didn't notice the problem until late, since rolling back to a system image from a couple of months before didn't fix it.

Any other suggestions how I can troubleshoot this?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Sep 2012   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower

I think downloading something from McAFee(fail) certainly wasn't the best move for correcting any registry problem. Since you have already tried restoring an image that was months old it shows the image was created too late along the way only carrying the problems with it since these have been developing over time.

The best time for any image is when you know without doubt Windows is running at 100% especially when you have a lot of paid for softwares involved. I just to buy one all over again recently when it was overdue for a clean install to clean things up.

Have you run the Check Disk tool at all? One reason I suggested that is that sometimes it will catch the fixable drive errors in time to save the existing Windows installation rather then being forced into a full clean install when not knowing why something isn't working in Windows.

The safe mode problem however sounds more like something deeper in the registry itself you might not be able to solve that easily. Recenlty when an old XP build and a Vista laptop got pooched by some scam wares one being an I-Worm once the bugs were cleaned off all seemed well until neither could connect online despite every effort.

Both ended seeing drives wiped and fresh copies of Windows going back on. And that was knowing where and what the problem was for each. The malwares trashed things too deep for a full recovery unfortunately. Yet try to explain why you need to keep things backed regularly doesn't seem to get very far there.

In your situation you may just have to wait until you can plan a clean install since it usually works out where you can always boot into safe mode but not a normal startup until something is fixed. Your problem seems to be a bit unique being reversed in roles where the normal boot is always a go and safe mode is history! I just have to wonder if somehow the built-in administrator account was disabled? That could explain a lot. Built-in Administrator Account - Enable or Disable
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Sep 2012   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64


Built in admin account is present, but disabled, which is the default.

It's not a matter of buying software again - I have the license details for everything, I'm just not going to even consider re-doing the hundreds of hours I have put into custom FSX setups etc. I can't even remember some of it, obviously.

I will just have to live without safe mode unless someone can help me troubleshoot this.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Sep 2012   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower

When going to boot into the safe mode you are booting the System Admin account. With that disabled Safe Mode becomes unavailable. If you follow the guide carefully you shouldn't have any worries about the need to wipe and start over fresh.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2012   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Sorry to have to reject advice that is probably meant well, but that is completely bogus. Safe mode has always worked for me before, with the built in administrator account present but disabled. That is how Windows 7 installs as default.

I have found another user with the same problem on clean installs of Windows 7: boot - How to fix Windows 7 safe mode reboot? - Super User

So it seems likely to be a hardware incompatibility. I'm trying to think what has changed on my system, but I can't imagine what it could be. Perhaps a windows update did it....
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2012   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower

Did you read through the guide there? The page you linked there simply refers to the Selective Startup in the msconfig settings. Funny how the other link mentioned brings you back to where? The SF tutorial section again. Safe Mode

You will note one thing however about the methods used as they force boot into Safe Mode by design. I have to doubt what you are seeing is strictly hardware however since regardless of which version of Windows was run or on what hardwares I have never been not able to get into the safe mode when simply pressing the F8 at post. What you have there is a not so common OS problem likely in the main registry itself.

And the one other thing to remember is that when you are booted into safe mode what account do you think you are booted into? The built-in System admin of course! While booted in safe mode you have complete access system wide without any permissions problems since this is also the diagnostics mode for Windows as well.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Safe Mode Reboot Loop

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