I have a Windows 7 machine that has been running reliably for 2 years and I have been keeping up to date via Microsoft updates. I shut it down for the night and it began doing updates. In the morning it was in a continuous reboot loop.

The machine boots through the BIOS normally. Then the Starting Windows screen with logo comes up. After a few seconds the Applying update operation <nnn> of <mmmm> text appears very briefly. Then the screen goes black except for the mouse cursor. Then it starts the BIOS boot again.

Each time the <nnn> in the message is different, usually between 200 and 300.

I cannot get F8 to bring up the Startup/Repair menu, as is normally possible during boot.

I have booted from my DVD and selected the Repair option at the bottom. None of the options on the repair dialog are useful.

Startup Repair says it can't do anything. There are no Operating Systems listed on the System Recovery Options dialog. There are no System Images available.

Because the system does begin booting from the hard drive, into the Applying updates stage, I don't think this is a typical crashed hard drive. I'm wondering if the repair options are all gone simply due to the altered boot process used by updates.

Any ideas for how to get out of this without a fresh install?

UPDATE: I used MiniTool's Partiton Wizard and was able to confirm that all of my files were still there, but there was no Windows folder. So I don't think any form of recovery will work. Backing up the data file, clean install, restore.

  • Are you saying the system at least progresses through the updates? Because if it is progressing (higher current update operation count and/or different number of operations remaining each time) then maybe there's just something about the set of updates you installed that needs lots of reboots? – a CVn May 17 '14 at 13:25
  • Seems that "reboot on error" is enabled. It will be interesting to boot into safe mode soyou can disable this and see the BSOD details that surely happens after reboot. The F8 options non working are very strange – Áxel Costas Pena May 17 '14 at 13:45
  • @MichaelKjörling - no, the update number is randomly higher and lower. It seems to start from the beginning each time and stop at a different point. – Steve Fallows May 17 '14 at 14:51
  • @ÁxelCostasPena - yes, I tried many times to get F8 to work. – Steve Fallows May 17 '14 at 14:52
  • Question should be closed now since OP isn't interested anymore in the answer to the original question, am I wrong? – Áxel Costas Pena May 17 '14 at 17:58

If you are able to boot into recovery mode from the installation DVD, you can type

dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions

on the recovery command prompt. This will rollback pending updates.

  • Useful to know. I have discovered that though all my data files are there, there is no Windows folder - so I am now doing a clean install and then restore data. – Steve Fallows May 17 '14 at 14:55
  • Sad to hear that. Surely you initially suffered a BSOD during the first attempt to install those updates, while Windows were writing itself to the system folder, so the file index corrupted, then you achieved current situation. – Áxel Costas Pena May 17 '14 at 17:56

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