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Windows 7: Stuck in Startup Repair loop, Cannot access Safe Mode or SystemRestore

02 Sep 2017   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium
Stuck in Startup Repair loop, Cannot access Safe Mode or SystemRestore

A few days ago we plugged in an external hard drive to my laptop. After my husband unplugged it from the laptop, it has been stuck in the Startup Repair loop. When turning my laptop on, it starts loading windows files but returns to Startup Repair which indicates that Windows cannot repair this computer automatically. When I select the advanced options for System Recovery Options, it gives several options, such as, Startup Repair (tried but failed), System Restore (tried but states that no restore points have been created on your computer's system drive. When selecting System Protection here, it indicates that my computer is running in a limited diagnostic state. If you use System Restore in this limited state, you cannot undo the restore operation), System Image Backup (selected but Windows cannot find a system image on this computer), Windows Memory Diagnostic (No problems were detected, but after completion my laptop restarted and returned to Startup Repair error), and lastly, Command Prompt Window (chkdsk /r indicates the type of the file system is NTFS. cannot lock current drive. Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Chkdsk may run if this volume is dismounted first. All opened handles to this volume would then be invalid. Would you like to force a dismount on this volume? (Y/N)). I have stopped here, as I do not know what to do at this point.

If at all possible, I would like to save my personal files. At this point, I'm not sure if that's possible, but would be awesome if so! Thank you in advance for your help!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Sep 2017   #2
Mellon Head

Win 7 Pro x64/Win 10 Pro x64 dual boot

Welcome to the forums, Stephanie.

Are you trying to start the laptop with the external drive plugged in? If so, please unplug it and try again.

If you aren't, try plugging it in before you start the laptop. Windows may be looking for that drive in order to boot. It's possible that the drive was not ejected properly when it was removed.

In any case, one of the two conditions above may be causing the laptop to go into startup repair. Let is know if either of those things works. If not I'll see if I can round up a couple of experts who are better at this than I am.

Oh, and I don't think unmounting the drive would be a good idea at this time. It might mess up all of your files. The good news is that we can probably save all of your personal files and data at this point, as long as the drive isn't corrupted.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Sep 2017   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium

Thank you for the welcome!

I had not tried it with the external hard drive plugged in. However, I did just give it a try with no luck.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Sep 2017   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

Hi Stephanie,

Without interfering with Mellon Head's advice, and if your primary focus is to save your personal files, I would recommend you to try to boot on a safe media like the Windows Repair CD or Windows Installation CD -- both will allow to boot without touching the file system of your hard disk. Both offer the capability to go into repair menus and there enter a command prompt.
Once there, you'd be able to see if you can access your personal files and copy them to an external disk to save most if not all of them, before making other attempts at rescuing the whole environment.

Let us know where you're standing so far ?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2017   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium

Contacting manufacturer now to get an installation disk. Tried to download it from the Microsoft site but failed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2017   #6

W7 home premium 32bit/W7HP 64bit/w10 tp insider ring


Unlikely Asus will


Here you go
W7 SP1 home premium Iso link.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2017   #7

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit

There are a couple of linux solutions to retrieving files from a machine that can not boot all that is needed is a usb flash drive and also somewhere to copy and paste your files too,
Lucid Puppy way to recover files from a non-bootable computer - Windows 7 Help Forums

Emergency Kit - save your files from a dead OS - Windows 7 Help Forums

You'll have to on startup access your boot menu to select the flash drive or dvd with linux on it often by tapping the delete key or F5 possibly as soon as possible after pressing the power button to startup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2017   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

Hi Stephanie,

If your computer was readily provided with an operating system, it likely also will have a special partition on your hard disk, called the recovery partition, often hidden and protected, with the original OS setup files and the computer specific drivers.
This special recovery & installation partition can often be accessed via either :
- spamming the F2 (sometimes F1) key repeatedly and very rapidly between the moment the manufacturer logo was displayed (that's when you have to start hitting the key) but still before the Windows Logo screen with the loading animation would appear (too late then). The time frame is very small, between 1 and max 3 seconds. You may have to reboot the PC multiple times (press the reset button) before you succeed;
- spamming the F8 key (at the same moment) which offers you the alternative boot menu (where you can select to boot in safe mode for instance). There may be a second page to this menu (sometimes F10 shows this, read carefully on screen) where an option to start the recovery partition is offered: it then reboots and goes directly to the recovery partition (don't spam the F1/F2/F8 in this case).

Have you tried the above ? This would suppress the need to obtain the recovery disk, as it's there already, including the initial setup files.

Torchwood and Thrashzone have offered links to download either the Win 7 install disk or a Linux based rescue solution with Lucid Puppy -- both as ISO files. Note that both require that you either make a bootable CD of these downloads or a bootable USB/flash drive -- this obviously has to be done from another computer, e.g. from which you're reading these messages and which features a CD writer and/or USB ports, with some blank CD media or free USB stick available).

If you only want to fetch the (much smaller) ISO with only the Win 7 Recovery tool, you'll get it here:
Win 7 System Repair ISO Download Solved - Windows 7 Help Forums

As a side note, if you're computer savvy enough, you may also want to consider unmounting the hard disk from the failing computer and connecting it to the computer you're using right now, provided it offers the right connectivity (you'll have to open both computers once powered off to check for sure). The benefit of this is that you would immediately see on the computer you're using now the whole disk, from within this (presumably also Windows) environment, with easy drag & drop to safeguard your personal files.

As you can see, many options are available, just let us know as you progress if you need more guidance.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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