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Windows 7: Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery



Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery

How to Recover from an Infinitely Looping Startup Repair Loop without Reinstalling Windows
Published by Dzomlija
22 Jan 2011
Default Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery

How to Recover from an Infinitely Looping Startup Repair Loop without Reinstalling Windows

If you've ever experienced a Startup Repair that continously loops and fails to fix the problem of not being able to load windows, even in safe mode, then you'll know that usually the only way to recover from this when System Restore does not work is to do a clean install of Windows.

Until now.

This tutorial will show you how to use the System Recovery Options provided by Windows to recover your system to a working state so that you don't have to risk losing data by performing a clean install.

warning   Warning
The instructions presented withing this tutorial must be followed correctly, or you can damage your Windows 7 installation even further. This tutorial is designed to help recover from a bad registry that is causing the startup repair loop. You should note that there may still be some issues remaining that cannot be fixed by manually restoring the registry.





Recovering Your System
  1. Boot to the System Recovery Options screen.
    • If Windows automatically opens Startup Repair, and subsequently fails to fix a problem, you can skip ahead to step 4 below.
  2. In the System Recovery Options screen, click Startup Repair:
    Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image05_startuprepair.jpg


  3. Windows will search for an attempt to repair startup problems:
    Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image06_searching.jpg


  4. If startup problems could not be repaired, you will receive the message Windows cannot repair this computer automatically. Click View advanced options for system recovery and support:
    Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image07_cannotfix.jpg


  5. Click View advanced options for system recovery and support, which which bring you back to the main System Recovery Options screen.
  6. Click Command Prompt:
    Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image08_clickcommand.jpg


  7. Command Prompt should open to X:, which is an internal ram disk use by System Repair:
    Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image10_changedrive.jpg


  8. Now you need to find your system drive. Depending on how your system is setup, this could be either C: or D:.
    1. Type C: and press <ENTER>.
    2. Verify that this is your system drive by typing DIR and pressing <ENTER>. If you see the Program Files, Users and Windows folders, then you have found your system drive, and can continue to step 9 below.
    3. If the drive is not your system drive, repeat steps I and II above, changing the drive letter to D, E or some other letter until the system drive is located.
      Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image11_chdir_config.jpg

  9. When you have located your Windows system drive, type CD \windows\system32\config and press <ENTER>:
  10. Type DIR and press <ENTER>, and verify that the following files and folders exist in the config folder:
    • RegBack (which is a folder)
    • DEFAULT
    • SAM
    • SECURITY
    • SOFTWARE
    • SYSTEM
      Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image11_chdir_config.jpg

  11. Type MD mybackup and press <ENTER> to create a backup folder that you can use incase this procedure does not work as expected.
  12. Type copy *.* mybackup and press <ENTER>.
    • If you are prompted to overwrite existing files, press A to allow all backups to be overwritten.
      Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image12_mybackup.jpg

  13. Now you need to check if you can use the automatic Windows backups to restore your registry:
    1. Type CD RegBack and press <ENTER> to go to the RegBack folder.
    2. Type DIR and press <ENTER> to view the contents of the folder. All the following files must exist:
      • The DEFAULT, SAM and SECURITY files should each be about 262,000 bytes in size.
      • The SOFTWARE file should be about 26,000,000 bytes.
      • The SYSTEM file should be about 9,900,000 bytes.
      • The file sizes presented here are approximate estimations, and may vary depending on your system. If any one of them are 0 bytes, then you should stop what you're doing now and seek an alternative method of recovering your system, because Windows cannot function with a 0-byte size registry hive.
    3. If the hive files listed in RegBack are ok, then proceed to step 14 of the tutorial.
      Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image13_checkregback.jpg


  14. Type copy *.* .. and press <ENTER> to copy the backup hive files to \Windows\System32\config.
    • If you are prompted to overwrite existing files, press A to allow all file to be overwritten.
      Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image14_copyregback.jpg

  15. Type exit and press <ENTER> to close the command prompt.
    Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image15_exit.jpg


  16. Click the Restart button to reboot your computer. If all goes well, your system will boot normally.
    Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image16_restart.jpg
    Startup Repair Infinite Loop Recovery-image17_working.jpg


Reference Information
This tutorial was made possible after learning how to manualy replace the Windows 7 Registry Hives after reading the Recovering Windows 7 Registry Hives/Files article on Microsoft Technet.













Published by
22 Jan 2011   #1
thefabe

Windows 7 ultimate 64 bit / XP Home sp3
 
 

Good information wanted to rep you on it.
Fabe


My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2011   #2
theog

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

ME/XP/Vista/Win7
 
 

Nice work.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jan 2011   #3
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Well done Peter.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


26 Jan 2011   #4
wigwam

 
 

You do know doing a chkdsk normally repairs this or if you go to F8 and disable automatic restarts on system failure.

work on a help desk and this normally resolves the issue
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Jan 2011   #5
Dzomlija

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by wigwam View Post
You do know doing a chkdsk normally repairs this or if you go to F8 and disable automatic restarts on system failure.

work on a help desk and this normally resolves the issue
CHKDSK is actually part of what Startup Repair does, but normally resolves the issue is not the same as always resolves the issue. I developed the tutorial after all attempts at solving the infinite repair loop on a customer laptop failed, attempts which included running a manual CHKDSK from the command line 3 times, 2 of which with scanning for and re-evaluating bad clusters enabled.

I eventually adapted a technique I used often with Windows XP as a last ditch effort before performing a data backup and re-install of Windows 7. And I'm pleased to say that it worked perfectly, the results of which led directly to the creation of this tutorial.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2011   #6
Baton Charge

Windows 7 and XP
 
 

Peter, looks good all the way to the end when I get to RegBack Dir hive files are there but they are all much larger than you state, there is also a file = all. When I go to copy in step 18 I get "all The file cannot be copied onto itself. 0 files copied. On rebooting I still can not repair nor boot Windows 7. Many thanks Alex.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2011   #7
Dzomlija

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Baton Charge View Post
Peter, looks good all the way to the end when I get to RegBack Dir hive files are there but they are all much larger than you state, there is also a file = all. When I go to copy in step 18 I get "all The file cannot be copied onto itself. 0 files copied. On rebooting I still can not repair nor boot Windows 7. Many thanks Alex.
Did you include the double-dot destination that appears after the wilcards source specification?

To clarify:

COPY[SPACE]*.*[SPACE]..<ENTER>

Forgetting to include the double-dot for the destination is the only things that can result in the "The file cannot be copied onto itself. 0 file(s) copied." error...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2011   #8
Baton Charge

Windows 7 and XP
 
 

Peter many thanks for your reply, I was worried this thread / tutorial might have archived.

Ah, I think it was the space that I missed, bother. Things however have deteriorated, one thread I followed mentioned the problem with the dual core creating a confusion when booting Windows 7, so I de-activated one of the partitions, not a good move, all I get now is the Windows Boot Manager crash screen telling me Windows failed to start. 1. Insert Windows disk and restart you pc. 2. Choose language. 3. Repair you pc. I thought blow it sounds like a re-install, it's a laptop so not much on it give it a go but no, even with the disc in it boots to the WBM, if I use f10 it starts the re-install but then dies. Any ideas on how to get back to command prompt? Alex.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Jan 2011   #9
Baton Charge

Windows 7 and XP
 
 

Using the DVD I managed to kick start the system after many attempts, got back to system recovery, tried the tutorial above, got all the way through this time, rebooted, did start up repair x 3 but still no luck, any further ideas? Alex.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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