Forum Thread

SOLVED - Windows "Preparing Automatic Repair" boot loop of death

TheEdge 6,054 1,686 February 24, 2013 at 09:52 PM
I may have just solved one of the biggest thorns in Microsoft Windows users sides.

In a nutshell, I was having a Microsoft techie try to solve a minor Homegroup issue on my wife's Windows 8 computer (her user picture wouldn't show up in the Homegroup listing like mine did/does). Again, minor problem...but I can be a perfectionist like that.

She was remote desktop'ed into my wife's computer. She triggered a restart. The Lenovo splash screen came up...then it said "Preparing Auomatic Repair". It never went away and just sat there. I eventually powered down. Same message. Same result. She was in a loop. I google searched it. A LOT of people have had this issue (in Windows 7 and/or 8) and few, if any people, were able to resolve the issue. Microsoft told them (from what I read) that the only fix was a reinstall of the OS.

After some tinkering around, I fixed it. Some random steps in between, but....

So here is the total procedure as best I recall.
1) Had the issue (loop with "Preparing Automatic Repair").
2) Changed the BIOS so I could boot from a DVD. Used a Windows 8 DVD and booted into the repair/restore/reinstall options. Selected "repair". It said it couldn't repair it.
3) I booted the DVD again. Selected the command prompt and entered these three commands:
bootrec /fixMBR
bootrec /Fixboot
bootrec /rebuildBCD
4) Tried booting without the DVD. It didn't work. It just went back into the loop.
5) Booted with the Windows 8 DVD again. Tried the repair option from the DVD menu again...and this time, when I selected my OS, it repaired it...and booted into Windows successfully/fully.

I know I'm not asking for help, but I've yet to find anybody on the interwebs post a bulletproof solution. I figured if anybody else from this site (or other sites) had this issue, they could find my "solution" helpful. I can't guarantee it will solve their problem, but again, I didn't find anybody who said "this fixed it for me" other than somebody who did a reinstall.

I'm just stoked I dodged a bullet. Time to make a full image backup of her computer.

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Joined Apr 2006
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#2
Well, not so fast, I guess.

A reboot put me back into the same boot loop. I noticed when I tried to create a system image, it wasn't even seeing the OS drive (even though it was showing up in "My Computer" and everything else was running fine.

I created a recovery DVD when I was able to get into Windows 8 just a bit ago. We'll see what this can do for me.
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#3
have you run any kind of registry cleaner? i had this same thing happening on and off and had to reinstall win8. come to find out the registry cleaner was what was causing the problem.
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#4
Quote from TheEdge View Post :
I may have just solved one of the biggest thorns in Microsoft Windows users sides.

In a nutshell, I was having a Microsoft techie try to solve a minor Homegroup issue on my wife's Windows 8 computer (her user picture wouldn't show up in the Homegroup listing like mine did/does). Again, minor problem...but I can be a perfectionist like that.

She was remote desktop'ed into my wife's computer. She triggered a restart. The Lenovo splash screen came up...then it said "Preparing Auomatic Repair". It never went away and just sat there. I eventually powered down. Same message. Same result. She was in a loop. I google searched it. A LOT of people have had this issue (in Windows 7 and/or 8) and few, if any people, were able to resolve the issue. Microsoft told them (from what I read) that the only fix was a reinstall of the OS.

After some tinkering around, I fixed it. Some random steps in between, but....

So here is the total procedure as best I recall.
1) Had the issue (loop with "Preparing Automatic Repair").
2) Changed the BIOS so I could boot from a DVD. Used a Windows 8 DVD and booted into the repair/restore/reinstall options. Selected "repair". It said it couldn't repair it.
3) I booted the DVD again. Selected the command prompt and entered these three commands:
bootrec /fixMBR
bootrec /Fixboot
bootrec /rebuildBCD
4) Tried booting without the DVD. It didn't work. It just went back into the loop.
5) Booted with the Windows 8 DVD again. Tried the repair option from the DVD menu again...and this time, when I selected my OS, it repaired it...and booted into Windows successfully/fully.

I know I'm not asking for help, but I've yet to find anybody on the interwebs post a bulletproof solution. I figured if anybody else from this site (or other sites) had this issue, they could find my "solution" helpful. I can't guarantee it will solve their problem, but again, I didn't find anybody who said "this fixed it for me" other than somebody who did a reinstall.

I'm just stoked I dodged a bullet. Time to make a full image backup of her computer.
Had the same thing happen to be Bruh, after buying that new $15 Win8 upgrade that Microsoft had going on for a while. Upgrade, ran great for about 2-3 weeks, then got the same thing you did. Preparing Automatic Repair boot loop and an error that I researched to find could only really be fixed by reformatting and reinstalling. That's what I had to do. Fortunately was able to boot to the HP System Recovery and it could see the HDD and I could at least back up files before wiping with a full System Recovery.
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#5
Quote from ReverseHandedJO View Post :
have you run any kind of registry cleaner? i had this same thing happening on and off and had to reinstall win8. come to find out the registry cleaner was what was causing the problem.
Nope. No registry cleaners. Did you do a full format first t just a clean install? (Or is that one in the same?)
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Quote from menace33 View Post :
Quote from TheEdge View Post :
I may have just solved one of the biggest thorns in Microsoft Windows users sides.

In a nutshell, I was having a Microsoft techie try to solve a minor Homegroup issue on my wife's Windows 8 computer (her user picture wouldn't show up in the Homegroup listing like mine did/does). Again, minor problem...but I can be a perfectionist like that.

She was remote desktop'ed into my wife's computer. She triggered a restart. The Lenovo splash screen came up...then it said "Preparing Auomatic Repair". It never went away and just sat there. I eventually powered down. Same message. Same result. She was in a loop. I google searched it. A LOT of people have had this issue (in Windows 7 and/or 8) and few, if any people, were able to resolve the issue. Microsoft told them (from what I read) that the only fix was a reinstall of the OS.

After some tinkering around, I fixed it. Some random steps in between, but....

So here is the total procedure as best I recall.
1) Had the issue (loop with "Preparing Automatic Repair").
2) Changed the BIOS so I could boot from a DVD. Used a Windows 8 DVD and booted into the repair/restore/reinstall options. Selected "repair". It said it couldn't repair it.
3) I booted the DVD again. Selected the command prompt and entered these three commands:
bootrec /fixMBR
bootrec /Fixboot
bootrec /rebuildBCD
4) Tried booting without the DVD. It didn't work. It just went back into the loop.
5) Booted with the Windows 8 DVD again. Tried the repair option from the DVD menu again...and this time, when I selected my OS, it repaired it...and booted into Windows successfully/fully.

I know I'm not asking for help, but I've yet to find anybody on the interwebs post a bulletproof solution. I figured if anybody else from this site (or other sites) had this issue, they could find my "solution" helpful. I can't guarantee it will solve their problem, but again, I didn't find anybody who said "this fixed it for me" other than somebody who did a reinstall.

I'm just stoked I dodged a bullet. Time to make a full image backup of her computer.
Had the same thing happen to be Bruh, after buying that new $15 Win8 upgrade that Microsoft had going on for a while. Upgrade, ran great for about 2-3 weeks, then got the same thing you did. Preparing Automatic Repair boot loop and an error that I researched to find could only really be fixed by reformatting and reinstalling. That's what I had to do. Fortunately was able to boot to the HP System Recovery and it could see the HDD and I could at least back up files before wiping with a full System Recovery.
Yeah, it looks like i have to go that route as well. Luckily, I still have most of my wife's important files backed up from just a few days ago, so other than my time and a few of her emails, we should be able to recover everything.

I even created a custom refresh point. I was able to back that up externally. I might be able to use that to jump start things once I get the OS back on.

Did you just do a clean install? Or full format and then clean install (are they different?)
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#7
clean install and full format are the same thing.
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Quote from TheEdge View Post :
Yeah, it looks like i have to go that route as well. Luckily, I still have most of my wife's important files backed up from just a few days ago, so other than my time and a few of her emails, we should be able to recover everything.

I even created a custom refresh point. I was able to back that up externally. I might be able to use that to jump start things once I get the OS back on.

Did you just do a clean install? Or full format and then clean install (are they different?)
It's an HP dv6t Quad laptop so I did a Full System Recovery so it wiped and restored from the HP image drive. It was painless. No, they aren't different as a clean install will need to involve a reformat.
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Quote from menace33 View Post :
It's an HP dv6t Quad laptop so I did a Full System Recovery so it wiped and restored from the HP image drive. It was painless.
I tried to do a restore from the Lenovo "restore image" via F2 at startup. It failed. The error message checked out, as I guessed, that the MBR didn't line up/was corrupted.

So I couldn't even do a restore. It's doing a clean install behind me and then if I really want to, I could do a Lenovo restore. Technically, I don't want the bloatware anyway, so as long as there are no issues with drivers missing, I'll just pass on the Lenovo restore. If nothing else, I have the custom refresh image saved off. If I restore that after I install Windows, I'm curious to see how far along that will take me as the file is like 16 GB.
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#10
Is it bad when a Microsoft techie asks what "MBR" means? :/

Long story short, couldn't even do the clean install...at least not yet.

I ran into an error when trying to install from the Windows 8 DVD since the key embedded in the BIOS was for Windows 8 and I was trying to install Windows 8 Pro media. So I did a USB workaround where you can write the key in a notepad document and put it on the USB stick. Then I ran into some "you can't install on this GPT partition" crap. Got around that. Now, when it is finished loading all of the files in, it asks me to remove the USB stick and click enter. I do that, the computer reboots into a "REPAIR" screen and says your OS has failed a lot of times...that I should use recovery media, etc. That's what boggles me. The MBR should be clean if I wiped out the correct partition (the main OS partition). It has multiple ones (for the system restore space, etc.). Perhaps I need to wipe out another partition as well?

EDIT: I was able to get around the "repair" screen (had to change some boot stuff in the BIOS). Got to where it said it was getting the devices ready...and then "getting ready...". And then I get the following error message: "'Windows could not update the computer's boot configuration. Installation cannot continue.'" There is something really messed up with this. :/

If I can't get it solved by Wednesday, I'm taking the hard drive to Staples to do an HDD for HDD swap (they don't have any in stock until then).
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Last edited by TheEdge February 25, 2013 at 02:38 PM.
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#11
Quote from TheEdge View Post :
The MBR should be clean if I wiped out the correct partition (the main OS partition). It has multiple ones (for the system restore space, etc.). Perhaps I need to wipe out another partition as well?
The MBR is independent of the O/S (and any other) partition. If you want to clear it, you must specifically do so
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Quote from vivahate View Post :
The MBR is independent of the O/S (and any other) partition. If you want to clear it, you must specifically do so
How would one go about doing that? I saw an MSR partition. But I'm under the impression that is different than MBR.

Some notes if this helps...

If I format the OS partition (within the C drive -- it's listed as partition 5) when trying to do the clean install and then let it copy the media from the Windows 8 Pro USB "media"...and then let it reboot...with the following BIOS settings I get these results...

UEFI Only -- it goes to a repair screen that doesnt' fix anything. Just gives you an error message.
Auto / UEFI first -- same repair screen.
Legacy only -- it says it is getting the devices ready...and then says "Windows could not update the computer's boot configuration. Installation cannot continue."
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Last edited by TheEdge February 25, 2013 at 02:54 PM.
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#13
In linux, it would be something like:

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1 (assuming your disk is at /dev/sda)

In windows there is something like 'fixmbr' - but that might not be the right name

edit - in reading again, it looks like you've already done this... not sure why it didn't work.
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Quote from vivahate View Post :
In linux, it would be something like:

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1 (assuming your disk is at /dev/sda)

In windows there is something like 'fixmbr' - but that might not be the right name

edit - in reading again, it looks like you've already done this... not sure why it didn't work.
Yeah, the basic MBR fix/restore commands didn't solve it. The commands may or may not have been part of the solution that would let me get back into Windows, but the MBR was still screwed up.
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#15
OK, I'm not too familiar with Windows 8's recovery options, but I do enough to state:

#1) You're mixing terms up and the ones you're using do not apply to your situation. MBR does not exist on GPT partitioned drives.
#2) The fact that you get to the Win8 recovery screen means that, whatever partitioning you have, the basic bootloader is not damaged. MBR repair wouldn't help even if you had one.

I'm sorry I don't know more about how to solve this problem, but I do know that if you're going to get to a solution, you'll get there faster if you use the right terms and understand where your system is failing.
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