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windows 7 startup repair loop


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#1
detoxidol

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A few days ago I encountered a windows 7 crash/freeze-up while
it was on idle and it forced me to do a hard reboot of my computer.

After the reboot, my computer experienced a complete freeze-up
after about a 5-10minute period which consequently forced me to
hard reboot yet again.

Suspecting that malware or some corrupt startup program/service
was the culprit, I decided to do a series of selective boots to
determine if it was a startup service, program or maybe it was
malware/virus that was corrupting important system files.

I installed and ran multiple different scans from
Avast, prevx3.0, vipre deep scan, and the combofix

After many many reboots and scans, it looked like one or two of them
found and eliminated some malware and/or corrupt files.
Eventually I was able to switch back to "normal boot" and find that
my system didn't freeze up after 5-10 minutes like it used to.

Assuming that malware was the culprit I seized the moment and installed
avast free antivirus, prevx3.0, and comodo firewall.

Accepting that I had fixed the problem, I went on with my everyday work
but after a seemingly random period of time of about 1hour, I encounter
the same catastrophic freeze-up which caused me to hard reboot and run
all the scans again. However, the most recent forced reboot no longer
loaded windows 7 and instead loaded the "Startup Repair". Startup Repair
is giving me a message after it tried to determine the problem,
"Startup Repair cannot repair the computer automatically"

Problem details
Problem signature:
Problem Event Name: StartupRepairOffline
Problem Signature 01: 6.1.7600.16385
Problem Signature 02: 6.1.7600.16385
Problem Signature 03: unknown
Problem Signature 04: 21201028
Problem Signature 05: AutoFailover
Problem Signature 06: 15
Problem Signature 07: CorruptFile
OS Version: 6.1.7600.2.0.0.256.1
Locale ID: 1033

Somehow I made the problem worse and now I can't load windows 7, nor can
I select to load in safe mode because I haven't seen that option.

Unfortunately I haven't created a restore point nor a system image to help me in the "System Recovery Options"

I read about this "in place upgrade", where I install windows 7 on top of itself to keep my data files and programs...
But I don't know how smart or safe a move like that would be...

Therefore, I'm hoping I can get some professional assistance from this forum. :D
I am currently on another computer since my Lenovo laptop is the one that is having this issue.

Laptop specs:
Computer: Lenovo IdeaPad Y710
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit
CPU: Intel Core2 Duo T8100 @2.10GHz
Memory: 4096MB
HDD: 250GB SATA1

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#2
SpywareDr

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Hard Drive Diagnostic Tools

Hard drive diagnostic utilities are used primarily for determining the physical condition of your hard drive, (drive integrity and read/write verification). If you are having computer problems which you suspect are hard drive related, you can test it with one of the following:


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#3
detoxidol

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I ran SeaTools first since I didn't know the make and model of my HDD.
Results: Long Test Failed - 24 errors
Short DST Passed
-No further action taken in SeaTools
-Learned that my HDD was Hitachi

I then ran the Hitachi Fitness Test from a boot disc.
Ran the Quick test and the Advanced test...
Results: Both found "one or more corrupt sectors"
Action taken: Ran "Sector Repair" then reran the tests
New Results: No errors

Exited and Rebooted my computer...
I am still encountering the same startup repair loop
that "cannot repair this computer automatically"

Where should I go from here? :D
Should I start considering an
"in-place upgrade" at this point or is there a better way?

Edited by detoxidol, 07 October 2010 - 01:24 PM.

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#4
peterm

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Hi detoxidol
Please start the laptop and press f8 this should give you safe mode.
If yes please start in safe mode.
If the computer starts in safe mode.
Click on start. In the search program files type in run
This should give a list. Choose run. Type in msconfig
Click ok. On the boot Tab Choose base video. Click Apply Click Ok.
Restart
What happens
Cheers
Peterm
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#5
detoxidol

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I tried pressing f8 at the "Lenovo" screen when my computer first starts,
but that didn't do anything, it still continued to load in
the "Startup Repair" program. :D

At the bottom of the startup screen says I have 2 options:
f2 - Setup
f12 - Boot Menu (which just gives me the option of booting
from cd, hdd, or LAN)

Edited by detoxidol, 09 October 2010 - 11:21 PM.

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#6
peterm

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No looking good.
Do you have a win 7 dvd ? we can try to access a restore point if you have. Or we can do a parallel install
Cheers
Peterm
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#7
detoxidol

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Update:
Ok, I tried to press f8 again except this time I kept pressing it over and over even after the "Lenovo" startup screen.
And it Worked! I finally got the "Advanced Boot Options" screen. (who knew I need to keep pressing it AFTER the startup screen, oh well)

On this screen I get a series of options:

1. Repair Your Computer

2. Safe Mode
3. Safe Mode with Networking
4. Safe Mode with Command Prompt

5. Enable Boot Logging
6. Enable low-resolution video (640x480)
7. Last Known Good Configuration (advanced)
8. Directory Services Restore Mode
9. Debugging Mode
10. Disable automatic restart on system failure
11. Disable Driver Signature Enforcement

12. Start Windows Normally


Obviously the first thing I tried was "Safe Mode"
but that didn't work either, it landed me back in
"startup repair" land.

After this, the only other option I tried was
"Last Known Good Configuration" but that didn't
help either, landed me back in "startup repair".

I am kinda hesitant to try the other options.
What do you think?

I do have a Windows 7 dvd and I did try to boot from it.
I even tried to see if it would allow me to do an in-place upgrade,
but surprisingly it doesn't let me do that unless i'm already in windows.

I do not have a restore point (though I thought that combofix should have
automatically created one, but "system restore" isn't able to locate it)

My HDD is partitioned into 2 drives C: and D:
C: being my primary, has Windows 7
D: has all my programs and personal stuff

So worst case scenario, I can just format C: and install
a fresh copy of windows 7.

Do you think any of the other options are worth trying in "Advanced Boot Options" screen?
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#8
peterm

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Ok, I tried to press f8 again except this time I kept pressing it over and over even after the "Lenovo" startup screen.
And it Worked!

:D Well Done. That was bad posting by me. I should have pointed that out ;)
We know number 1 won't work the only option you have that might work is
No. 6 Enable low-resolution video (640x480).
If that does not work then it is time to bite the bullet & reload from scratch.
You can try and reload over the current install by choosing the same folder. However if you are sure you have all data then a new reinstall would be better.
When you have malware problems all restore points are normally wiped as the malware/virus can write themselves to restore points.
You will need to reload a lot of the programs again as they hold the information in the windows registry.

Cheers
Peterm
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#9
detoxidol

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Option #6 didn't work either.

So it looks like I will need to do a fresh install after all...

Since I still had some stuff on C: drive (desktop) that I needed, I got a
a tip from a friend that I should create a Live GParted CD and boot
from that to clone the NTFS onto an external hardrive.
So I went ahead and did that, and now I have an exact clone copy
of that drive.

I donno if I should do the same with the D: drive where all my files
and personal stuff are located. I don't think it is really necessary
since I will only be formatting the C: drive (29.30GiB) on which
I will be installing a fresh copy of Windows 7.

A few things I noticed:
when I was in GParted...
I looked at the Information screen for my C: drive
and GParted said it found 2 or more bad sectors
and recommended that I clone it and then run
'chkdsk /f /r' in the command prompt.

I tried running chkdsk but that didn't find anything
nor did it fix my problem. (no surprise really)

What I found interesting is that after I cloned C: drive onto
my external hardrive. I connected the external to my desktop
computer to scan it with avast. avast was able to find about 8
infected files which I deleted.

I wonder if it was those files that were creating the bad sector issue.
Oh well, I guess it doesn't matter now.

My question now is, does the windows 7 installer do a good job in formatting
the drive because I thought I heard that even after formatting some information
is still imprinted on the drive. Is this true or do I NOT have to worry about it?

Furthermore, is 29.30GiB a large enough partition for windows 7 installation or
should I use GParted to make it larger? (But wouldn't that require me to format
D: since both partitions are on the same physical disc)

As you can see I think I'm starting to confuse myself and complicate things again.

What would you suggest?
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#10
peterm

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Ok If it was me I would be backingup/clonning my data as well as it is on the same phyiscal drive. C drive is ok at that size. Do you have all your programs on disk or in a download file? as you will have to reinstall most of them again.
One thing to consider is checking if your programs are 64 bit compatible,
If yes then when you boot from the cd see if it gives you the option to install as 64 bit. My reason for this is you have 4 gig of ram yet windows 32 bit only address 3.5gig of ram. You would get the benefit of an extra 1/2gig of ram. Your video is using 1/2 gig of ram.

What I found interesting is that after I cloned C: drive onto
my external hardrive. I connected the external to my desktop
computer to scan it with avast. avast was able to find about 8
infected files which I deleted

If you want to put in the time and effort(plus maybe learning) you could now use your clean clone and clone back to your laptop and see if it boots.

When you boot from the windows 7 dvd can you get to the system recovery options?
Put the Windows 7 installation disc in the disc drive, and then start the computer.
Press a key when you are prompted.
Select a language, a time, a currency, a keyboard or an input method, and then click Next.
Click Repair your computer.
Click the operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click Command Prompt.

If yes then we can try and rebuild your MBR (Master boot record.

My question now is, does the windows 7 installer do a good job in formatting
the drive because I thought I heard that even after formatting some information
is still imprinted on the drive. Is this true or do I NOT have to worry about it?


Would not worry about this the standard format is fine.
I hope I have not confused the issue. If I have then let me know and I will try to claify.
Cheers
Peterm
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#11
detoxidol

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I overwrote the C: drive partition with the clean clone.
Unfortunately that didn't solve the problem.

All my programs are on drive D: partition and I will be
making a clone of that partition as well...
just to be on the safe side.

Since I have way too many programs to go through, it will
take too long to find out if each is 64bit compatible.
But in general, aren't most modern programs nowadays 64bit compatible
or are there still software developers that create programs only for
32bit? Is there an easy way to determine (without contacting the
software developer) whether or not certain software is 64bit
compatible?

I was able to access the "system recovery options" and
command prompt via the Windows 7 dvd. What is the next step
in rebuilding the MBR?
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#12
peterm

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I overwrote the C: drive partition with the clean clone.
Unfortunately that didn't solve the problem

.
Did not have much hope for this but was worth a shot

Bootrec.exe options
The Bootrec.exe tool supports the following options. Use the option that is appropriate for your situation.
If option 2 does not work try this 3rd
Note If rebuilding the BCD does not resolve the startup issue, you can export and delete the BCD, and then run this option again. By doing this, you make sure that the BCD is completely rebuilt. To do this, type the following commands at the Windows RE command prompt:
bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup
c:
cd boot
attrib bcd -s -h -r
ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old
bootrec /RebuildBcd
Try this option 1st.
/FixMbr
The /FixMbr option writes a Windows 7 or Windows Vista-compatible MBR to the system partition. This option does not overwrite the existing partition table. Use this option when you must resolve MBR corruption issues, or when you have to remove non-standard code from the MBR.
If Option does not work Try this option 2nd
/FixBoot
The /FixBoot option writes a new boot sector to the system partition by using a boot sector that is compatible with Windows Vista or Windows 7. Use this option if one of the following conditions is true:
The boot sector has been replaced with a non-standard Windows Vista or Windows 7 boot sector.
The boot sector is damaged.

CLICK ON ME
If this does not make sense please ask before trying
Cheers
peterm
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#13
detoxidol

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I tried the first option
restarted...no good

I tried the 2nd option
restarted...no good

I tried the 3rd option
restarted...got "Windows Boot Manager"
"Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause.
To fix the problem:
*lays out steps to get to 'Repair your computer'*

File: PCIIDEX.SYS

Status: 0xc0000098

Info: Windows failed to load because a required file is missing, or corrupt


at the bottom of the screen it give two options to ENTER = Continue and ESC = Exit.
I chose continue and then the next screen:
Choose an operating system to start:
Windows 7 Ultimate

To specify an advanced option for this choice, press F8.


First I just hit enter, then it landed me to the previous screen
but this time had other boot options like safe mode, etc.

None of these options worked...

So I decided to go back and rerun "repair your computer" in the hopes
that it would do something different...
And yes it did something different,
"Windows found problems with your computer's startup options.
Do you want to apply repairs and restart your computer?"

'View details'
The following startup options will be added:
Name: Windows Recovery Environment (recovered)
Path: Recovery\*string of numbers and letters*\Winre.wim
Windows Device: Partition=C: (30000 MB)

A Copy of the current boot configuration data will be saved as: C:\Boot\BCD.Backup.0001


So I chose 'Repair and restart'
That didn't really do much, landed me back in "Windows failed to start..." screen.

Looks like its format time, unless you have other suggestions.
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#14
peterm

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Backup/clone Data
And as much as I hate to say it. At times it can't be helped.
FORMAT
Cheers
Peterm
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#15
detoxidol

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Thanks for the help.
It's been very educational.

I have some final questions,

In terms of preventative measures...

I really wanna make sure this kinda thing doesn't happen again.

Obviously, I need to start making restore points and saving them
to an external HD. Is there a difference between the restore point
and a disc image? How many restore points or images should I have?

I regularly use the TuneUp Utilities Software to keep my system
running optimally. And after, reinstall of Windows 7, I will be
using Comodo Firewall and Avast Free antivirus/spyware.

Is this enough, or should I install other utilities and/or
make it a habit to do something to keep my system
"corruption/bad sector free"?

What would you suggest?

Thanks again,
Serge
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