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Stuck in Automatic Repair Loop


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#1 C_Man

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 11:40 PM

Stuck in Windows 8.1 Automatic Repair Loop

 

 

I am stuck in the Windows 8.1 automatic repair with a Dell Inspiron 3847.  For no apparent reason (and after making no changes to hardware or software installation), one morning booting up the pc led to the Automatic Repair screen with “Automatic Repair couldn’t repair your PC” .  From this screen I was able to get to a command prompt (Advanced options > Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt) and access the file: C:\Windows\System32\Logfiles\Srt\SrtTrail.txt which has the following Identification of Root Cause:

Root cause found:

---------------------------

Boot manager failed to find OS loader.

 

Repair action: File repair

Result: Failed. Error code =  0x4001

Time taken = 922 ms

 

Repair action: Boot configuration data store repair

Result: Failed. Error code =  0x2

Time taken = 0 ms

 

I discovered that this means that Winload.exe is either missing or cannot be accessed.   So I looked at the C:\Windows\System32 directory where Winload.exe is supposed to be and found that it was missing.

After running through many possible fixes using the Recovery environment such as those with DISM.exe and Bootrec I have had no success.  I am also not able to start windows in Safe Mode or even get to a screen with Safe Mode as an option.  Every reboot leads to autorepair (fruitless) loop.   Here are the attempted repair steps I have taken and their results:

Chkdsk /F and Chkdsk /R   :    No errors found

Full Virus Scan with AVIRA Rescue Disk :  No infections

Sfc /SCANNOW  :   ERROR –  There is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete.  Restart Windows and run sfc again.

DISM.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions  :  Error: 2    An error occurred accessing the temporary folder x:\windows\temp\9118EEF6-6D11-4EAC-93CB-D2D5A6F7F7F4.  Ensure that the path to the temporary folder exists and that you have Read/Write permissions on the folder.  The DISM log file can be found at  X:\windows\System32\Logs\DISM\dism.log     (see attached)           

 

Dism /Image:C:\ /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:i:\sources\sxs   ERROR:  Same error 2  as above.

[Note: this source was a USB drive configured as a bootable Windows 8.1 Setup/Repair disk via the windows media creation tool downloaded from the Microsoft website]

 

Bootrec /RebuildBcd     -   Succesfully scanned Windows Installations.  Total identified windows installations : 0.  The operation completed successfully.

 

Please help.  I am stuck in this Automatic repair loop for 4 straight days and basic recovery tools are not working so far. 

 

 

Attached Files



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#2 technonymous

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 01:27 AM

Have you tried rstrui.exe command? Try rolling the system back a couple days.



#3 C_Man

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 09:36 AM

Thanks Technonymous for the suggestion.  Yes I did try that and unfortunately got the message, "No restore points have been created on your computer's system drive."

 

This does not seem right to me as I thought Windows 8.1 automatically set restore points during installs or with updates.  But running that command several times kept coming back with the same message. 



#4 technonymous

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 06:43 PM

Sorry for not replying sooner, I have been busy. During repair advanced options once it reboots you choose to disable the firewall. I believe the error you have is Norton related. Yes, not having automatic restore points is concerning and possibly virus related. This is what they do and they attack your attempts to restore and destroy or delete shadow copies. Wish MSFT would get on the ball about protecting the system more with that. System restore would work as it goes and restores all the registry and critical system files needed to run. Since Norton was corrupt in the process and those files missing in a way protect you. That leads me to believe you got a nasty on your system. Norton is reporting that file is missing or corrupt. It's possible Norton is having problems, but highly unlikely. Norton is a powerful antivirus suite one of the better ones around. Users can get a copy completely free if they are customer of Comcast. That is a huge benefit.

 

Norton has come a long ways over the years. At one point in time it was hated by many. I have seen them all grow and fall and make a come back. Not just Norton, but Mcaffee, Kaspersky. I have seen many get disabled by attacks just the same as any other. So try that out and see if you can boot into the system. Once into Windows you need to obviously uninstall and reinstall/update Norton ASAP and do a extra barrage scans on the system. I suggest posting in the "Am I infected" Forum thread. They will fix you up if there is indeed something that Norton is not detecting. You should also consider getting a full system image backup solution on a external/internal drive. Using something like TrueImage etc..With that you can boot from a TrueImage CD and plug the USB hd in and restore in matter of minutes. Something to think about. Live and learn I guess. Good luck.


Edited by technonymous, 02 April 2017 - 06:46 PM.


#5 C_Man

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 06:55 AM

Sorry Technonymous, but I think you are replying to the wrong guy.  I don't have Norton anti-virus or Norton firewall on my system.  My issue is the the automatic repair loop as outlined in my first post above.  I can't boot up into windows and don't have any Norton error messages.  

 

I am trying to avoid the re-install of windows (since not everything was properly backed up) and was hopeful that  someone would be able to provide specific insight regarding the particular configuration of errors that I am getting trying to get out of the Automatic repair loop.  Specifically, a crisper summary of my repair attempts outlined in my first post is as follows:

 

1. Boot manager failed to find OS loader  (from SrtTrail.txt)

2. Winload.exe is apparently either missing or cannot be accessed

3. sfc /SCANNOW  fails because "There is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete. "

4. Attempts with DISM.exe to 'revertpendingactions' and 'restore health' fail because of no access to a temp folder in x:\windows\temp, which I guess is part of the recovery environment.  (How can the recovery environment not have access to its own directory?)

 

Also, the DISM log I attached includes error messages that I am hopeful someone more knowledgeable might have insight into.

 

I am hoping that by focusing the discussion on this particular configuration of issues that I might gain a better understanding of what is going on and help find a solution.   Thanks in advance for any help that you or anyone can give.



#6 technonymous

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 08:48 PM

Oh sorry if I got you mixed up LOL! However, that could still be the reason why. If the Loader is missing then you will have to search the exact location where it is. There is a copy in the hidden sxs files on C: I don't know the location off the top of my head, but you can google just about anything these days. I'll try and find it, but I gotta run for now.



#7 technonymous

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 01:14 AM

When you boot into recovery and get to a command prompt try this command. Be sure to use the right drive letter it will change like C: may be D:

 

example:

 

robocopy /mir c:\windows\system32\boot\winload.exe c:\windows\system32

 

 

Another thing you can do is CD (change directory to C:\windows\system32 and then run bcdedit so that it matches c:\windows\system32\winload.exe



#8 C_Man

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 04:09 PM

Thanks very much Technonymous will give this a try and let you know result.  

 

 I did determine (by searching the affected drive from a new separate boot installation of windows 8.1 on a separate HardDrive) that there are 2 copies of the winload.exe on this drvie at the following path c:\Windows\Win Sxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-b..os-loader_31b...ridiculously long Hexadecimal #..._en-us_..another Hexadecimal #\winload.exe.  However the date of this file matches the

date of the original windows installation by Dell, so unless winload.exe never changes, I guess I shouldn't try to copy that one over to the system32 directory?

 

Also, there is no winload.exe present in the  c:\windows\system32\boot\  directory, so I am not sure that the Robocopy command would work as you wrote it, unless of course the windows recovery environment creates the file on the fly when you boot to it.

 

I also noticed other anomalies on the drive.  Namely that nearly all of the subdirectories of My Documents are missing.   It is as if the file indexing on the drive is wacked and that leads to these other issues.  Dell pre-boot diagnostics indicate drive (and the whole pc) is free of any problems which is I guess just a hardware check.  From RE and separate windows boot, Chdsk finds nothing and sfc can't be run because a repair is pending.

 

Anyway, thanks very much for your help on this.  I am starting to think I should copy the drive over to another drive with the Roadkil  Copy utility and work on that one.  

 

Anyway that 



#9 technonymous

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 04:47 PM

Thanks very much Technonymous will give this a try and let you know result.  

 

 I did determine (by searching the affected drive from a new separate boot installation of windows 8.1 on a separate HardDrive) that there are 2 copies of the winload.exe on this drvie at the following path c:\Windows\Win Sxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-b..os-loader_31b...ridiculously long Hexadecimal #..._en-us_..another Hexadecimal #\winload.exe.  However the date of this file matches the

date of the original windows installation by Dell, so unless winload.exe never changes, I guess I shouldn't try to copy that one over to the system32 directory?

 

Also, there is no winload.exe present in the  c:\windows\system32\boot\  directory, so I am not sure that the Robocopy command would work as you wrote it, unless of course the windows recovery environment creates the file on the fly when you boot to it.

 

I also noticed other anomalies on the drive.  Namely that nearly all of the subdirectories of My Documents are missing.   It is as if the file indexing on the drive is wacked and that leads to these other issues.  Dell pre-boot diagnostics indicate drive (and the whole pc) is free of any problems which is I guess just a hardware check.  From RE and separate windows boot, Chdsk finds nothing and sfc can't be run because a repair is pending.

 

Anyway, thanks very much for your help on this.  I am starting to think I should copy the drive over to another drive with the Roadkil  Copy utility and work on that one.  

 

Anyway that 

Yes, you should try the one from the Winsxs if the dates match. It's tedious typing it, but you gotta do it if the file is missing. I am not sure how you got to this point with the file missing. The one in the winsxs file might be compressed and you have to use the expand command instead. You can try both way's it's not going to hurt your situation any.



#10 C_Man

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 12:44 PM

To close out this little adventure, I would like to first thank Technonymous for his responses.  While I never was able to make the drive bootable, I was able to save all of the important documents from it using a free program called Recuva.  I was impressed by this program because all of the subfolders of "My Documents" had disappeared, as mentioned above, and I had almost given up hope that I was going to able to recover any of the documents from these lost directories.  But in fact I was able to recover nearly every important document.   

 

Regarding the cause of my problem, my best guess (and I mean guess) is that it may have been related to a bad shutdown event (maybe a powersurge at the wrong time) which resulted in:

 

1) damage to the boot files including loss of critical system files and the endless Automatic Repair Loop

2) damage to the My Documents Junction 

3) incorrect sign-off of the main user account with downstream impact on access rights on the My Documents folder

 

After a week and a half of troubleshooting, I gave up trying to repair the windows installation, re-installed Windows 8.1 on a separate Hard drive, and focused on recovering the critical documents on the original hard drive.  Fortunately, the original hard drive was viewable from the windows environment (and of course the cmd prompt) even though many directories were missing.  From there, running Recuva on the damaged drive allowed me to recover the critical files from the lost directories. 

 

I hope some of this may be helpful to someone else.






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