[SOLVED] Unusual Startup Repair Loop

smmm

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Aug 14, 2019
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I have an old Dell Optiplex 330 that I was trying to update the bios on to fix another issue. After I installed the updated bios file from Dell, I restarted the computer, leading to issues that are described in the other post. Basically, it was telling me that the boot disc was corrupted. I took a break from trying to work it out and when I came back later and turned it on, I got the Startup Repair screen where you have the option to do Startup Repair or boot normally. When I chose boot normally, It went to the "Starting Windows" screen but no windows logo, and then the pc restarted and went back to the Startup Repair or boot normally screen. If I choose Startup Repair, it says "loading windows files" with the loading bar, screen goes black, then restarts and goes back to the Startup Repair option screen just like the boot normally option. I'm not that familiar with Windows 7, but I'm pretty sure selecting Startup Repair is supposed to put you into some sort of Windows graphic interface instead of just the bios. So what is happening here, and how can I repair it, if possible? I don't have the original Windows 7 disc or anything, I got this PC used.
Sorry if this was already discussed, I couldn't find any info about the Startup Repair loop where it didn't go into the Windows interface.

Thanks!
 

onespeedbiker

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It's rare the chkdsk or sfc solve problems, but they do give an insight into to condition your hdd and Windows install. It is sounding more and more like your Windows install is corrupted, so a re-install would probably solve your issues; and yes if you have a ISO on USB for Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, and a key for Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, there should be no problem activating the install, as long as you have a valid key. I would try again to run chkdsk, as it will advise if your hdd was damaged, and possibly do some repair work. BTW you can run chkdsk inside window if it boots to your desktop again, it will give you an error message and then ask if you want to schedule a chkdsk next time to reboot; you should say Y(es) and then restart Windows from the Start button and it will reboot and do a chkdsk before it tries to boot back into windows . That does not mean you won't need an re-install, but it will make the re-install go smoother if there were issues with the hdd. Good luck!
 

smmm

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I'm convinced now that the boot disc is just corrupted somehow. So is there a way to reinstall Windows 7 or something to fix the corruption? I don't have a Windows 7 disc or key though, so is there a way to do a reinstall without a those? I don't care about the files and data on the drive, it' totally ok if it has to get wiped.

Thanks.
 

onespeedbiker

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Sometimes when you flash the BIOS it returns to the default values, which may result in your computer not booting. You need to check the values, especially I would check if secure boot has been enabled; is so disable it.

You really should get a Windows 7 install media. You may want to check ebay, as the windows install disks are quite cheap (using the COA is another matter). Using the install media you may very well be able to repair the damage to the OS/boot drive; ie repair the mbr. As far as the COA, most computers have a Microsoft COA sticker on the outside case.
 
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smmm

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Sometimes when you flash the BIOS it returns to the default values, which may result in your computer not booting. You need to check the values, especially I would check if secure boot has been enabled; is so disable it.

You really should get a Windows 7 install media. You may want to check ebay, as the windows install disks are quite cheap (using the COA is another matter). Using the install media you may very well be able to repair the damage to the OS/boot drive; ie repair the mbr. As far as the COA, most computers have a Microsoft COA sticker on the outside case.
Would you be able to tell me exactly what values would need to be changed, and how to disable secure boot? Sorry, I'm still not that knowledgeable about things at the BIOS level. Also are you saying that the boot drive would only be able to be repaired with the install media?
I found the COA sticker, but it's for Windows Vista and I don't know how useful that is. Also I'm not sure if this is relevant but to give more information, the BIOS is still the same version as before, A05, so it didn't change.

Thanks!
 

smmm

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It's also a possibility that the new bios I was trying to install was a complete coincidence to this issue. All I did related to the bios was download a A11 and A09 file from the Dell website, and it gave me an error message pop up. I didn't actually do anything with the files. It's when I restarted the PC after that this issue happened.
 

onespeedbiker

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So you downloaded the BIOS but never ran the program? That is quite different from you saying you ran the program and your computer rebooted. Do you remember the error message? Also, can you boot into safe mode? Usually accomplished by repeatedly pushing the f8 key when you computer is booting. Unfortunately, if you did run the BIOS program, it's possible you corrupted your BIOS which can be very problematic (especially if you interypted the BIOS upgrade process by rebooting your computer) and the cause of your problems
 
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smmm

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Aug 14, 2019
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So you downloaded the BIOS but never ran the program? That is quite different from you saying you ran the program and your computer rebooted. Do you remember the error message? Also, can you boot into safe mode? Usually accomplished by repeatedly pushing the f8 key when you computer is booting.
To clarify: I downloaded the bios file for rev. A11 and I must have ran it for it to give me any error message, right? It wouldn't make sense for it to just give me an error by downloading the file. I'm not sure if I did or not. I can't exactly remember the error, sorry about that. So I then downloaded the A09 rev and nothing happened. I restarted just on my own by clicking the restart button after that, for no reason related to the BIOS issue.

Update: After i finished writing my previous paragraph, I turned on the PC to try the F8 safe mode method. This is exactly what happened:
I missed the Dell splash screen to press F8 while my monitor was turning on, so it went to the usual Startup Repair or Boot Normally page.
I selected Startup Repair because that usually loops back into the Dell splash screen.
The screen went black for a second and reappeared on the Startup Repair or Boot Normally screen.
I selected Boot Normally just to see what would happen (In my other attempts with this option it just reboots back to the Startup Repair or Boot Normally), and it went to "Starting Windows", but instead of it being just a black screen and rebooting, the Windows logo actually showed up and did it's animation thing.
It lingered on the "Starting Windows" page with the logo for a minute, and then just booted normally?!
So now I'm on the desktop.
Whaaat
 
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smmm

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Aug 14, 2019
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So you downloaded the BIOS but never ran the program? That is quite different from you saying you ran the program and your computer rebooted. Do you remember the error message? Also, can you boot into safe mode? Usually accomplished by repeatedly pushing the f8 key when you computer is booting. Unfortunately, if you did run the BIOS program, it's possible you corrupted your BIOS which can be very problematic (especially if you interypted the BIOS upgrade process by rebooting your computer) and the cause of your problems
Ok I think I now understand what you're trying to say. To simplify my earlier post, I most likely ran the file, it wouldn't make sense for an error message like that to just come up. I don't think I interrupted anything, unless it was happening invisibly. So if the BIOS is corrupted, then am I in a rough spot?
The current status of the PC is that I restarted after being in the desktop to see if I could get into Safe Mode, and after many attempts of spamming F8 it finally got into Advanced Boot Options. So I booted into Safe Mode, and got a "Windows has encountered a problem communicating with a device connected to your computer." message in Windows Boot Manager. So it can't boot into Safe Mode.
 

smmm

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Sorry if I'm overwhelming anyone with a lot of questions, but I hjad an idea for a possible solution. Would it be viable to find the Win 7 key that the PC has already (I did this using Belarc Advisor), make a Win 7 bootable USB using the link to to the ISOs on this forum, use the USB to reinstall Win 7 on the PC, and then use the key I retrieved earlier to activate it? Would this be possible or fix the problem?
 

onespeedbiker

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If you ran the bios update and you got an error that is usually an indication the BIOS update was properly shutdown, so there should be no damage, especially since you can boot to a BIOS screen and it shows the original BIOS still in place. Doing a clean install is a possible solution, if all that happened was a corrupt hard drive. Lets go back a bit and ask, what was the issue that casued you to want to update the BIOS. Further, what happened to you booting to the desktop?
 

smmm

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Aug 14, 2019
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If you ran the bios update and you got an error that is usually an indication the BIOS update was properly shutdown, so there should be no damage, especially since you can boot to a BIOS screen and it shows the original BIOS still in place. Doing a clean install is a possible solution, if all that happened was a corrupt hard drive. Lets go back a bit and ask, what was the issue that casued you to want to update the BIOS. Further, what happened to you booting to the desktop?
The issue that I originally had that led to me updating the BIOS was that when using the rear 3.5mms for audio and a mic, the audio would work and play sound, but the mic didn't record anything even though Windows detected it. When I used the front panel 3.5mms, the exact opposite happened where both were detected but only the mic would work and pick up sound on the bar thing, but the headphones played no sound. I was recommended in my other post about the issue to try to update the BIOS.
Booting to the desktop after this issue started has happened to me twice so far. It seems to just happen randomly by chance if I select to boot Windows normally on the Startup Repair/Boot Normally screen. I didn't notice a pattern of anything I did beforehand between those two occurrences. It just boots to the desktop like it always would, but lingers on the Starting Windows screen longer than usual.

About using the old Win 7 key to activate a new USB installation, even aside from this issue, is that possible?

As a side note for more info, when I tried to boot into Safe Mode, it shows the loading bar and "Microsoft Corporation", and a few bars load, and then it just black screens and restarts.
 

onespeedbiker

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Yes, the Windows 7 COA should work with an install media. You can also use the install media try and repair your hdd. After the install media loads, it will give a choice to install or repair. I you chose repair it will go to a repair screen, but it will based from the media, not the hdd, so it may work better. You should at least go to a command prompt in the repair mode and run chkdsk /f at the command line. This can also be done if you boot to the desktop. If you do get back to the desktop, you should also run sfc /scannow from a command line inside windows (this will also work from the repair mode command line, but not as well).
 

smmm

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Aug 14, 2019
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Yes, the Windows 7 COA should work with an install media. You can also use the install media try and repair your hdd. After the install media loads, it will give a choice to install or repair. I you chose repair it will go to a repair screen, but it will based from the media, not the hdd, so it may work better. You should at least go to a command prompt in the repair mode and run chkdsk /f at the command line. This can also be done if you boot to the desktop. If you do get back to the desktop, you should also run sfc /scannow from a command line inside windows (this will also work from the repair mode command line, but not as well).
I was able to get a Windows 7 Ultimate ISO from Microsoft support as OEM keys don't work with their website. I put it onto a USB and was able to boot into it. The automatic Startup Repair it tried to do said it couldn't fix the problem. Running chkdsk /f resulted in:
"The type of file system is NTFS.
Cannot lock current drive.
Windows cannot run disk checking on this volume because it is write protected."
I think it was trying to read the USB. Running sfc /scannow in repair mode results in:
"There is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete. Restart Windows and run sfc again."
I restarted and ran this again like it says, same result.

So it looks like this repair thing is not working out, would it be a good idea to just install Windows from the USB? I have no important files on the PC.

Also what I thought might be important is that the Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit key I have for this PC is not the same as the COA sticker, which is for Windows Vista. I retrieved the current Win 7 key with Belarc Advisor. So just to double check, would this mystery key still work to activate Windows 7?

Thanks.
 

smmm

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The key is only good for the exact same type of windows. As far as the chkdsk error, that occurs because I forgot to give you a parameter. Run chkdsk again, with c: chkdsk /f
When I turned on the PC to try the c: chkdsk /f in repair mode, it booted into the desktop. I ran sfc /scannow, and after it finished verifying it said:
"Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them."
So is the problem fixed? I'm currently sitting in the desktop by the way.
 

smmm

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Aug 14, 2019
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I restarted, but the problem is still there. Would a new Win 7 install be likely to fix it? I have the ISO on USB for Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, and a key for Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.
 

onespeedbiker

Commendable
Apr 13, 2019
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It's rare the chkdsk or sfc solve problems, but they do give an insight into to condition your hdd and Windows install. It is sounding more and more like your Windows install is corrupted, so a re-install would probably solve your issues; and yes if you have a ISO on USB for Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, and a key for Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, there should be no problem activating the install, as long as you have a valid key. I would try again to run chkdsk, as it will advise if your hdd was damaged, and possibly do some repair work. BTW you can run chkdsk inside window if it boots to your desktop again, it will give you an error message and then ask if you want to schedule a chkdsk next time to reboot; you should say Y(es) and then restart Windows from the Start button and it will reboot and do a chkdsk before it tries to boot back into windows . That does not mean you won't need an re-install, but it will make the re-install go smoother if there were issues with the hdd. Good luck!
 

smmm

Great
Aug 14, 2019
129
3
95
1
It's rare the chkdsk or sfc solve problems, but they do give an insight into to condition your hdd and Windows install. It is sounding more and more like your Windows install is corrupted, so a re-install would probably solve your issues; and yes if you have a ISO on USB for Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, and a key for Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, there should be no problem activating the install, as long as you have a valid key. I would try again to run chkdsk, as it will advise if your hdd was damaged, and possibly do some repair work. BTW you can run chkdsk inside window if it boots to your desktop again, it will give you an error message and then ask if you want to schedule a chkdsk next time to reboot; you should say Y(es) and then restart Windows from the Start button and it will reboot and do a chkdsk before it tries to boot back into windows . That does not mean you won't need an re-install, but it will make the re-install go smoother if there were issues with the hdd. Good luck!
I was able to get into the desktop, so I ran chkdsk and said yes, but when I rebooted it blue-screened and said "A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer." I don't know if that was supposed to happen. Since I've tried that, should I just try to reinstall Windows?
 

smmm

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Aug 14, 2019
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Yes, go for it!
Ok I tried to reinstall Windows, and it didn't quite work out. Every time it finished downloading and installing and needs to reboot, when the PC comes back on I get some sort of Windows failed or boot disk corrupt etc. If I go back into the USB, the entire Windows installation starts all over again. I'm beginning to think the hard drive has failed, just because nothing seems to be working?

Thanks you so much for all of your help.
 

onespeedbiker

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Apr 13, 2019
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Ok I tried to reinstall Windows, and it didn't quite work out. Every time it finished downloading and installing and needs to reboot, when the PC comes back on I get some sort of Windows failed or boot disk corrupt etc. If I go back into the USB, the entire Windows installation starts all over again. I'm beginning to think the hard drive has failed, just because nothing seems to be working?

Thanks you so much for all of your help.
I agree, I see a new hdd in your future..
 

smmm

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I agree, I see a new hdd in your future..
I pulled out the hdd, and it turns out it's a Toshiba that says it's from August 2016, so I thought it might be repairable. It's really nice (1.8TB, 7200 RPM) and relativley new, so I hooked it up into my main Win 10 PC. I ran chkdsk and it said in the boot screen that it was 100% repaired, and I ran the disk scan in its properties which came up with no issues. I cleaned and am currently reformatting it as ntfs in diskpart. I wonder if wiping and reformatting it will resolve my issue, it's worth a try anyway.
 
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onespeedbiker

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Apr 13, 2019
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I pulled out the hdd, and it turns out it's a Toshiba that says it's from August 2016, so I thought it might be repairable. It's really nice (1.8TB, 7200 RPM) and relativley new, so I hooked it up into my main Win 10 PC. I ran chkdsk and it said in the boot screen that it was 100% repaired, and I ran the disk scan in its properties which came up with no issues. I cleaned and am currently reformatting it as ntfs in diskpart. I wonder if wiping and reformatting it will resolve my issue, it's worth a try anyway.
You are doing what I do prior to a clean install, so it might be the magic you are looking for. Keep in mind if successful, you will need to round up (download) the drivers from Dell.
 

smmm

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You are doing what I do prior to a clean install, so it might be the magic you are looking for. Keep in mind if successful, you will need to round up (download) the drivers from Dell.
Alright it worked to install Windows! The mystery key I retrieved earlier didn't work, as I expected. Do you think buying an eBay key such as this is a bad idea?
 

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