Question Stuck on "Preparing automatic repair" boot- loop at startup ?

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Aug 13, 2022
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I decided to try Hirens Boot CD PE and it worked without a problem. There's quite a few diagnostic tools on there, and I was able to test my HD. I ran a few different ones and they all reported my HD to be good.

 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Then, if it's not a drive problem, not a CMOS battery problem and not a problem that can apparently be attributed to much of anything else, I'd just about have to assume that it's a board problem.

If it were me, regardless of what the tests say, I'd try another drive before throwing in the towel. Getting a cheap 120 or 250GB SSD doesn't cost that much and can of course be immediately useful for whatever you replace this system with (IF you end up having to) as a primary or backup drive in any case, but most importantly would tell us if the drive is the issue. I'm reluctant to say this is a board issue because I don't know for certain that it isn't a drive issue, but it could certainly be a failing storage controller on the mainboard, but sometimes without high end equipment you have to just throw a part or two at it to see what sticks and if you can do that with parts that can be of value on the next thing, in case this thing is done, so much the better.

Other than that man, I don't really know what else you could look at or do since you are not comfortable opening it up.
 
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Aug 13, 2022
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Then, if it's not a drive problem, not a CMOS battery problem and not a problem that can apparently be attributed to much of anything else, I'd just about have to assume that it's a board problem.

If it were me, regardless of what the tests say, I'd try another drive before throwing in the towel. Getting a cheap 120 or 250GB SSD doesn't cost that much and can of course be immediately useful for whatever you replace this system with (IF you end up having to) as a primary or backup drive in any case, but most importantly would tell us if the drive is the issue. I'm reluctant to say this is a board issue because I don't know for certain that it isn't a drive issue, but it could certainly be a failing storage controller on the mainboard, but sometimes without high end equipment you have to just throw a part or two at it to see what sticks and if you can do that with parts that can be of value on the next thing, in case this thing is done, so much the better.

Other than that man, I don't really know what else you could look at or do since you are not comfortable opening it up.
Could it be a problem related to the Boot Configuration Data file or Bootloader? I did some searches of that error message and a lot of people have said that doing this has fixed the issue for them....

https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-au/000124331/how-to-repair-the-efi-bootloader-on-a-gpt-hdd-for-windows-7-8-8-1-and-10-on-your-dell-pc

At this point, is it worth trying that or even trying to set the Boot mode to Legacy and trying to install Windows again?

With that method of repairing the bootloader (on the Dell site), will changing the drive letter format that drive or would I risk stuffing it up completely?

When I load Hirens Boot CD PE my computer runs fine. I can access everything and browse normally and there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it. Would it do that if it was a hardware problem? I wonder if there are any tools on there that could confirm your suspicions? This is a list of whats on there.....

 
Aug 13, 2022
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Actually sorry, a couple of other things. I just realised that every time I have tried to install Windows, I never got the Activate Windows screen or the next one where you select which version. Was that because I had Windows on there before?

The other thing is, before it was getting though all those check points (on the installing Windows screen) or at least through the first couple, but now if I try and install Windows I get that blue screen with the PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA error before I even get to that section. I think it happens right after I delete the partitions. I thought I better mention it in case it's relevant 🙂
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Did you follow my guide, and delete ALL of the existing partitions on the drive before attempting to select that drive (With no partitions left on it. Windows will create all the necessary partitions and perform any necessary formatting, automatically) and click "continue"? In order to do that you need to select the "Custom" option when you get to that screen. IF you do that, there cannot BE any remaining Boot configuration or bootloader data unless you are using multiple drives or a third party bootloader of some kind for dual OS boot.

If however, you are deleting those partitions and are getting these problems, then it MUST be something else. Either a bad drive, bad memory, bad motherboard, or bad installation media. I think I would try creating NEW installation media and try again. Also, resetting the BIOS to default settings first might not be the worst idea either.
 
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Did you follow my guide, and delete ALL of the existing partitions on the drive before attempting to select that drive (With no partitions left on it. Windows will create all the necessary partitions and perform any necessary formatting, automatically) and click "continue"? In order to do that you need to select the "Custom" option when you get to that screen. IF you do that, there cannot BE any remaining Boot configuration or bootloader data unless you are using multiple drives or a third party bootloader of some kind for dual OS boot.

If however, you are deleting those partitions and are getting these problems, then it MUST be something else. Either a bad drive, bad memory, bad motherboard, or bad installation media. I think I would try creating NEW installation media and try again. Also, resetting the BIOS to default settings first might not be the worst idea either.
Yeah I did, every time I tried to install it, and I was thinking there couldn't be anything left on there, but then I also wasn't sure how far it got formatting seeing as it didn't finish installing. Also when I run the disk management tool from the command prompt I do have that 100MB hidden partition and I wasn't sure if it could be something on that.

Last night I looked into that blue screen error a bit more. Apparently it can be caused by a problem with the memory or graphics card. I had a few issues with my graphics card not long after I got the laptop......don't ask me what they were cause I don't remember 😂 I just remember it was causing me problems.

Have I got access to anything that could test the memory or graphics card?

I put the installation media on a USB also, so I'll reset the BIOS and then give that one a try 😊
 
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So tonight I ran Memtest86 and there were no problems.

I also reset the BIOS and tried to install Windows from the USB. I got the blue screen right before getting to the Installing Windows screen again.....so straight after deleting the partitions. I also didn't get the activation and version screens again.

One other thing I noticed (from within Hirens Boot CD) was that I couldn't find my Nvidia graphics card in the device manager. I didn't select 'show hidden devices' so I'm going to try that tomorrow to see if it shows up.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Your graphics card shouldn't be a "hidden device". IF it is not showing up in device manager, it might be that there is a problem with it OR the proper device drivers aren't installed. Besides which, if you have "deleted the existing partitions" and are trying to install Windows, how could you possibly even HAVE a control panel or device manager to look at?
 
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Your graphics card shouldn't be a "hidden device". IF it is not showing up in device manager, it might be that there is a problem with it OR the proper device drivers aren't installed. Besides which, if you have "deleted the existing partitions" and are trying to install Windows, how could you possibly even HAVE a control panel or device manager to look at?
Hirens Boot CD PE has a control panel and device manager. If I'm not in that I don't have them....If I'm not in that I don't have anything 😢

One other thing that doesn't make sense to me and I wanted to ask you about, if I'm deleting all the partitions when I try and install Windows and the installation doesn't work, why have I got more than the one partition next time I try and install it? I don't know if that makes sense? Every time I try and install it I've got more than one partition and I have to delete them. That's what is making me wonder how far it's getting with formatting.
I understand how that might happen if I get part of the way through the 'Installing Windows' section before it crashes, but not when it happens when it crashes straight after I've deleted and selected which drive to install it on. Is that weird?
 
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Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Likely it's because it only takes seconds for partitions to be created, but actually takes longer than it takes to create them, to TELL you that they are created. On modern systems, should be practically instantaneously.

All your symptoms indicate to me either a failing drive or a failing storage controller on the motherboard. I think I said this before but if not I'm going to say it again just in case. Buy a new SSD to replace that HDD. Not only will it be much faster WHEN you get the system working, but it might HELP speed things up when it comes to SOLVING the problem especially if it IS a drive issue which it seems to be to me. Also, if you are ultimately unable to get this fixed, or unwilling to if the cost of the repair parts is not an option, then at least a new SSD is something you can use with practically anything you get going forward as far as PC based, non-tablet devices are concerned.

If it is the mainboard, which it very well might be, buying an SSD won't be throwing anything away, so it makes the most sense to start there in order to minimize any potential loss through the troubleshooting process and also, potentially improve performance once it IS resolved. You did, or did not, replace the CMOS battery? I forget. At the least, it should be tested or more realistically, given the age of the laptop, just replaced regardless. These coin batteries have a pretty good 4-5 year lifespan, IF you have a decent product to begin with. For less than optimal products, maybe 2-4 years. So, CMOS battery is always a good place to start on ANY device, laptop or desktop, that is more than three years old. Just to eliminate that possibility, if nothing else. And you'd be surprised how often that fixes the issue. To be sure, it is not every case. But, it absolutely IS part of the troubleshooting process for any device that has a CMOS battery.

I have even seen almost brand new devices with CMOS battery problems because the devices were new but the batteries that got installed in the devices had been sitting around in a supply area of a warehouse for quite some time, but then got used because somebody decided "hey look, we have all these CMOS batteries we never used" and chaos ensued. LOL. Thanks MSI. (Insert appropriate expletive here) 😎
 
Aug 13, 2022
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I'm also going to ask somebody who is FAR more knowledgeable than I am in storage related issues, to chime in. If he can't tell you what's up then I don't know who can.
I just don't feel confident taking the thing apart because I've never done it before. Getting to the CMOS battery on that looks like it requires me to pull the whole thing apart. Looking at the video I posted he removes pretty much everything before he turns it over and gets to the battery. I know that's the point of that particular video, but I'm not sure what actually needs to come out to access and replace it and what doesn't.
Also, this thing doesn't have a SSD now. Are you thinking I get one to replace the current one? Is that possible? Do you think I could do it myself? You can probably see I'm not very clued up when I comes to hardware 😂

I'm thinking at this point maybe I should just buy another laptop. I can take it to someone to look at but I'm really not sure if it's worth spending money on. Given the specs and age, but the fact that it hasn't had that much use, do you think it's worth fixing?

I'm feeling bad I've taken up so much of your time, but I really do appreciate all your help. If you know of someone that could also help, that would be great, but I totally understand if there's no more you can do 😊
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
On some devices it IS necessary to really take it apart to some degree. Maybe it is on that one. Most laptops, especially older ones, only require a partial teardown to either remove just the hard drive cover or the entire back cover, but by then the CMOS battery should be easily accessible. If you are not comfortable with that then it might be a good idea to contact a few of the locally available "geeks", meaning any relatively knowledgeable techs on places like Craigslist or an actual repair shop, and have them replace or test the CMOS battery. Probably best to just replace it that way it is not ever going to be likely to be an issue again for the remainder of it's useful life. Plus, those batteries are like two bucks.
 
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unless you have a very abstract board, the small round CMOS battery should be very easily accessible.

just removing it for maybe a couple minutes and then replacing is all that is required.
On some devices it IS necessary to really take it apart to some degree. Maybe it is on that one. Most laptops, especially older ones, only require a partial teardown to either remove just the hard drive cover or the entire back cover, but by then the CMOS battery should be easily accessible. If you are not comfortable with that then it might be a good idea to contact a few of the locally available "geeks", meaning any relatively knowledgeable techs on places like Craigslist or an actual repair shop, and have them replace or test the CMOS battery. Probably best to just replace it that way it is not ever going to be likely to be an issue again for the remainder of it's useful life. Plus, those batteries are like two bucks.
This is my laptop and that's the CMOS battery when he turns the board over at 8:32 isn't it? If so, can I access that easily?
With my knowledge of hardware that's probably not it and I'm nervous about doing it for nothing 😂

 
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Yes, that coin shaped device is the CMOS battery and looking at the video it seems like it is not possible to get to it without a full disassembly unless I'm missing something.
So just a little bit beyond my level of expertise 😀

I'm a bit over this laptop right now, but I'm wondering if it might be worth posting on the Acer or Microsoft forum at some point to see what they reckon.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
It is ALWAYS worth it to try additional resources. Sometimes, especially if the problem is model specific, somebody knows something relevant that isn't terribly common in general with other models. Another option would be to call around to local repair shops and see what they would charge to disassemble, swap out the battery and reassemble. The only problem with that is that it IS going to cost something and might not fix the problem.

At this point I'd really recommend trying a different drive before doing anything else, but obviously that's your call.
 
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