Computers & Electronics

"Preparing automatic repair" boot loop, can't bring up safe mode or advanced recovery options at all?

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May 11, 2009
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"Preparing automatic repair" boot loop, can't bring up safe mode or advanced recovery options at all?

Interesting situation that's bugging me - wondering if anybody has run into this because I'm stumped. Background: A coworker came to me for help with an issue she was having with her few months old Thinkpad T14 - the Windows 10 boot loop issue (the splash screen goes to prepare automatic repair, black screen, and machine restarts). Easy fix right?

OK, I've come across this several times before- should be straightforward... need to hard shutdown 2 or 3 times to force the advanced option menu to come up, as windows 10 no longer has the option to press F8 before boot to bring up the safe mode or command prompt options. Well... this didn't work, same behavior no matter what! It's been driving me nuts - just seems to reboot and never even gets to the "diagnosing your PC" step before the advanced options would appear. Am I missing something here?

What she has already done, per the IT dept. troubleshooting over the phone as we don't have anybody on site, I'm the unofficial go to guy in our office. Standard fare:
- Turned it off and on again (derp)
- used the reset hole on the bottom (no change)
- unplugged it and plugged back in (no change)
- Press F8 during startup (nope, doesn't work in Windows 10)
- leave it off for a while and let it run once on (perpetual on/off boot loop)

after all these steps failed the guy on the phone said it's a hardware issue and they'll send her a new one. That's great, except her most recently used files are stuck on the machine and she has to wait for the new machine to arrive.

This is windows 10 enterprise and a company computer, I thought maybe they disabled that option so I tried it on my workstation and I could get the repair menu to come up after 2 failed boots as expected.

Pressed F10 to run Lenovo storage, motherboard, CPU, and RAM diagnostics and everything passed, though I would be skeptical here because I've seen a bad RAM module pass Lenovo's diagnostic yet fail with memtest.

At this point if it were my machine I would be booting a liverun distro to grab the files and then trying the installation media to get to a command prompt and run some tools (chkdsk, sfc/scannow, bootfix etc) but this is a company computer and I didn't have any USB drives with me. I was hoping to use the built-in windows tools but apparently that will not work here. I'll try using a windows 10 USB install stick to see if I can get to a prompt, but I have a feeling that since mine is Windows 10 pro it might not work on the enterprise edition.

At this point I'm personally curious as to what exactly is going on, this is quite bizzare. I'm fairly confident it is NOT a hardware issue, I'm thinking it's a windows update gone wrong (we all got emails that over the next few weeks Windows 10 21H2 will be deployed to replace our old Win 10 1909) or some severe drive corruption
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2 replies
Deal Guru
Aug 14, 2007
12785 posts
3813 upvotes
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M1K3Z0R wrote: Interesting situation that's bugging me - wondering if anybody has run into this because I'm stumped. Background: A coworker came to me for help with an issue she was having with her few months old Thinkpad T14 - the Windows 10 boot loop issue (the splash screen goes to prepare automatic repair, black screen, and machine restarts). Easy fix right?

OK, I've come across this several times before- should be straightforward... need to hard shutdown 2 or 3 times to force the advanced option menu to come up, as windows 10 no longer has the option to press F8 before boot to bring up the safe mode or command prompt options. Well... this didn't work, same behavior no matter what! It's been driving me nuts - just seems to reboot and never even gets to the "diagnosing your PC" step before the advanced options would appear. Am I missing something here?

What she has already done, per the IT dept. troubleshooting over the phone as we don't have anybody on site, I'm the unofficial go to guy in our office. Standard fare:
- Turned it off and on again (derp)
- used the reset hole on the bottom (no change)
- unplugged it and plugged back in (no change)
- Press F8 during startup (nope, doesn't work in Windows 10)
- leave it off for a while and let it run once on (perpetual on/off boot loop)

after all these steps failed the guy on the phone said it's a hardware issue and they'll send her a new one. That's great, except her most recently used files are stuck on the machine and she has to wait for the new machine to arrive.

This is windows 10 enterprise and a company computer, I thought maybe they disabled that option so I tried it on my workstation and I could get the repair menu to come up after 2 failed boots as expected.

Pressed F10 to run Lenovo storage, motherboard, CPU, and RAM diagnostics and everything passed, though I would be skeptical here because I've seen a bad RAM module pass Lenovo's diagnostic yet fail with memtest.

At this point if it were my machine I would be booting a liverun distro to grab the files and then trying the installation media to get to a command prompt and run some tools (chkdsk, sfc/scannow, bootfix etc) but this is a company computer and I didn't have any USB drives with me. I was hoping to use the built-in windows tools but apparently that will not work here. I'll try using a windows 10 USB install stick to see if I can get to a prompt, but I have a feeling that since mine is Windows 10 pro it might not work on the enterprise edition.

At this point I'm personally curious as to what exactly is going on, this is quite bizzare. I'm fairly confident it is NOT a hardware issue, I'm thinking it's a windows update gone wrong (we all got emails that over the next few weeks Windows 10 21H2 will be deployed to replace our old Win 10 1909) or some severe drive corruption
If it's a work computer and IT is available even if not there, let them deal with it.

Sounds like it could be drive corruption. If this was me and given the choice, I'd just install a fresh copy of windows.
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May 11, 2009
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UPDATE: It was the NVME drive after all. I brought my trusty ubuntu liverun USB stick this morning and tried to access the drive. It showed up, mounted fine, but would time out randomly upon reading so trying to browse certain directories or copy files would throw I/O errors. SMART data was not reported by the drive, though not surprised as my own P14s doesn't report SMART data either.

I can sleep soundly knowing there was nothing I could have done. This was the first NVMe drive I've seen fail, that was unsettling to say the least - it was a WD SN520 if I recall correctly.
XtremeModder wrote: If it's a work computer and IT is available even if not there, let them deal with it.

Sounds like it could be drive corruption....
That's what ended up happening. The IT guy off the phone from yesterday (or a call center in Delhi? couldn't tell) sent her a stern email that she return the unit and any tampering would result in being charged the full replacement value (might be leased units, feels as though the guy must have heard me rolling my eyes over the speakerphone yesterday while he told her to turn it off and on lol) so she just wrapped it up and shipped it out today.
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