Question Windows Broken, Safe Mode Broken, Booting to Ubuntu Flash Drive Works - Hardware Failure? - Windows 10

Mar 23, 2023
I posted this about 24h ago on Reddit, however I did not get any answers. I thought I'd try a somewhat quieter forum instead. I hope this is fine.

When I start my PC I get all the way to the lock screen with the date and time. Once I press a key to get to the login screen the animation plays (the displayed items move up) but then they instantly reset to their original position. I can not get to the login screen and pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL has no effect either.

By cutting power 3 times in a row (about 3 times anyway, it's really inconsistent), I can access the recovery menu. Booting into safe mode results in a black screen with a cursor, key combinations do nothing there also.
From the recovery menu I can also launch a cmd window which I was instructed to reset a certain folder from - only I can't remember which folder it was. This was a couple of days ago and I had never heard of that folder before, plus it was ChatGPT which recommended it and I currently don't have access to my history :D It was not any of the following: profile folder, AppData, WinSxS, Windows Update folder, DriverStore folder. I should also add that it didn't change any behavior at all, just wanted to mention what I've tried.

To access some data I needed, I set up a Windows PE installation on a flash drive. I've never used it before and might've done something wrong, but when I booted to it I also only got a cmd window. I expected a a basic UI, but this didn't help me.
So I did what I should've done before WinPE anyway and set up a bootable Ubuntu flash drive. With this I was able to access all installed drives.

Until then I suspected that my boot drive (Samsung 970 Evo M.2) had failed, so I was surprised to be able to access it seemingly without problems. I'm neither experienced with corrupted windows installations nor failing/failed hard drives though, so I'm not sure whether this can be ruled out just because I can access the drive.

I'm not very worried about any data being lost because the data that matters is on a separate drive (the one I already retrieved some from). I only care about getting my PC to work again and not breaking anything that is not yet broken by trying the wrong things.

My next play would be to reinstall windows from the recovery menu. I haven't tried that yet because 1. I'm unsure what would happen if the drive is physically broken and 2. I'm worried about the data on my other drives. About 2.: can I just unplug the drives that have nothing to do with the windows installation and plug them back in once I fixed it?

What other actions would you recommend to try? Any ideas what may be causing the issue originally? Some of my parts do approach an age (see below) where them failing would be expected, but I'm not sure how to pinpoint which one from what I currently know. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Thank you for taking the time to read this! Cheers :)

I should also mention:
Over the past ~year I had regular blue screens (on avg about once per day, 98% of the time it happened when waking up from hibernation), usually with stop codes like PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA or FLTMGR.SYS. From my research this suggests drivers, hard drives or RAM which I did all the appropriate actions for: look for updates (none ever found except GPU), run CHKDSK, run memtest. No problems were ever found so I just ended up running with it. No blue screen happened right before the above problem started, though.

My specs:
MSI B350 PC MATE AMD So.AM4 Dual Channel DDR4 ATX
Ryzen 5 2600X 3.6GHz
Asus DUAL GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
2x8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4-2400
500GB Samsung 970 Evo M.2 (boot drive)
2000GB Toshiba DT01ACA200
2x Kingston A400 240GB SSD
All parts are about 4.5yrs old, except the Samsung 970 and the Kingston SSDs which are about 3 yrs old.
Don't judge my 5 hard drives, there was a special offer! :D


Curmudgeon Pursuivant
Unless there's something unusual about the way you've stored the data on the other drives, the data will still be there when you reinstall Windows. Though you definitely should unplug the other drives when doing it. There's little purpose in trying to salvage a particular Windows install when it's causing a great deal of headache. Even less purpose when you've been doing mystery things based on ChatGPT prompts; it's not a computer technician and the AI tends to get small details wrong, which is a problem on a very detailed endeavor. I'm certainly not sure what you mean by "resetting" a folder. A folder is a visual representation of file structure, not an application; did you delete it?

If you're worried about the data, put that drive in a small hard drive enclosure and connect it to another PC via USB and verify the data is fine. It also sounds like you only have one copy of important data since you refer to "the" drive that the data is on. That's extremely concerning; any data that isn't properly backed up is, sooner or later, likely to be lost forever.
Mar 23, 2023
Thank you for your answer!
Then I will unplug the drives and try a reinstall, maybe the hardware is fine after all.

It was one of those folders that is automatically created if not present. All I did was rename the original one to X_old and run some command that would create the folder (and its contents) if necessary, thus resetting the local file structure it represents, potentially fixing errors that originated from it.
I find ChatGPT comparable to a forum that doesn't waste anyone's time (both answering questions that are potentially already answered elsewhere but not easily found and waiting for questions to be answered). As with anything I find on the internet though, I turn to other sources to confirm, it's just about getting suggestions/directions what to look into. That was one of them and it seemed to have potential.

That backup point is very valid. It's been on my todo for too long :') I have been lucky thus far, but I'll take that advice to heart. Cheers!