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I put my laptop to sleep last night, and when I woke up this morning... it didn't. So I tried to reboot, and everything went fine until it got to the Vista splash screen, where it's supposed to display the logon. Here, it hits an endless loop:

  1. Display the cursor with the blue spinny thing that replaced the hourglass, for 5-10 seconds
  2. Display "Please wait..." for about half a second
  3. Screen flashes to black, then quickly back to the Vista splash screen
  4. Goto step 1

The whole time, my hard LED is on almost non-stop. I can boot into Safe Mode... sometimes. Sometimes it'll load all the drivers, then sit there for about 10 minutes, spinning the hard drive non-stop, then reboot with no warning.

I tried booting to Last Known Good Configuration. Didn't fix anything. When I've managed to get into Safe Mode, I tried running CHKDSK. Didn't fix anything. I tried running System Restore to each of my last two restore points. Didn't fix anything either time. I ran a virus scan. Didn't find anything. I tried calling the manufacturer (Alienware), only to discover that my warranty expired last freaking week and now I can't get it fixed without paying exorbitant sums of money.

I'm about at my wits' end here. Has anyone seen this problem before? Does anyone know how to fix it? Does anyone know a solution that does not involve reinstalling the OS and losing an entire year's worth of program installations, Windows Updates and configuring and tweaking things until it's working just like I want it to?

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since you can boot into safe mode, you'll have access to the Event Viewer, that's always a good place to start. look for errors and update your post accordingly.

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OK. What am I looking for? – Mason Wheeler Jan 28 '10 at 19:14
You'd be looking for events marked as Errors to start. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jan 28 '10 at 20:49

I have seen this a few times relating to a faulty driver - however I am very confused as to why System restore wouldn't fix this.

If I was you, I would try to use a Windows Vista disk and perform a startup repair and see what that says.

It should be able to analyse failed startups and fix it automatically for you if it is something simple.

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Just tried that. It didn't find any problems. – Mason Wheeler Jan 29 '10 at 0:14

Did you run "chkdsk /r" from the vista disk or did you just run "chkdsk" in safemode?

If not boot to the Vista disk and click on CMD and run chkdsk /r

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You've probably reinstalled or gotten a new computer by now, but maybe I can help someone else.

I had this same problem and after countless failed attempts to fix it, I turned the computer off and left it that way because I was tired of reinstalling (I had already had to reinstall Windows Vista 2 or 3 times prior to that).

Several months later, I finally resolved to fix it once and for all. It turned out that a Windows Update corrupted the network driver stack, which in turn caused all of the low-level Windows services to fail, including the Windows Event Logging service.

To fix it, use System Restore to go back to the state prior to the most recent Windows Update. If that doesn't fix it, keep using System Restore to go back one Windows Update session at a time. (In my case, I had to revert dozens of updates, until my computer was all the way back to the most recent service pack.) Once your computer is working again, proceed to install Windows Updates just a few at a time. You could also do a binary search, only installing half of the available updates at a time.

When I reinstalled the updates, I never ran into the reboot loop problem again. My guess is that the bad update had been pulled.

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