Question Caught in a death loop!

timbo59

Estimable
Apr 19, 2016
4
0
4,510
0
The laptop I've been using has gone into some kind of startup loop that I can't get out of no matter what I try.

When I power up and key in the password I get the black error screen and two Windows Error Recovery screen options - start up, or start up repair. Either one of them gives me the same result - A Systems Recovery Options box - the difference being that the repair option thinks about it for a while.

If I go ahead it asks for keyboard input method (US), then I get another box that gives me two options - the first is to use 'recovery tools' while the second choice is to use 'Restore your computer' (I also get a button option at the bottom of the box to look for drivers). The system recovery choices are Startup Repair, System Restore, System Image Recovery, Windows Memory Diagnostic, and Command Prompt. I tried the first two options and nothing happened - Startup Repair just goes round and round and finally gives me a message saying it can't repair the computer automatically. If I go with System Restore I get an error message saying that I need to specify which Windows installation to restore, and that I need to restart, select an OS, then use System Restore. (news to me, as far as I know I only have one OS on here, Windows!) I then get to either shutdown or restart, which brings me all the way back round again to the same problem.

This is driving me crazy, as I have a couple of weeks worth of writing on board the laptop that I need to recover. I usually back up to a flashdrive more regularly, but I've been a bit lax lately. I do have 95% of it already backed up, but the recent work involves some editing, cleanup, as well as a forward and postscript, both of which would be very tedious to rewrite, and of course second time around the writing is never the same. I literally had finished writing the book the day before the laptop started giving me all this grief - I should have backed it up then, but it was four in the morning and I was tired after a long writing session to get it all done.

I've also tried taking the battery out to see if it would somehow reset, but that didn't work either.

Anyone have any ideas on how I can fix this - or at least access the information I need?

Thanks
 

AlHuneke

Commendable
Jul 7, 2020
655
77
1,390
76
You may need to do a complete reinstall to get rid of the problem. Getting access to the data is not too hard. It sounds like you have already been inside your machine. I hope you are using good ESD precautions so you don't damage anything.

There are several ways to get to your data, but the most straightforward is to remove the hard drive (is it a HDD or SSD?) and plug it into a USB adapter designed for that type of drive. You can then plug into another computer and read the files directly (assuming you haven't encrypted your drive which few people do). Once you have backed up your important data files on another machine, you can try a clean restore which will delete all your data files and programs. Let me know it that doesn't work and I can tell you about another way. Note that there may be less drastic ways to repair the Windows startup, but they require considerable knowledge.
 

timbo59

Estimable
Apr 19, 2016
4
0
4,510
0
Thanks for the reply.

I had thought of that (I've done it before with PC's) but there's a problem. The laptop in question isn't my regular one, but my wife's spare one from work - like many people during the COVID pandemic, she's been working from home for the last year or so, which is easy enough for her as she's a corporate writer - she can practically work from anywhere.

My own laptop started having issues when some of the screws in the base came loose without my realizing it, a few fell out and the case started coming loose, and even though I got some replacements and screwed it firmly back together the keyboard has been affected somehow insofar as the alphanumeric characters to the left (Q, A, Z, X, 1 & 2) won't work - kind of limiting when you're trying to write! I've tried opening it up to see if something's out of place but I can't see anything wrong with it.

So in the short term (until I can figure out what's wrong with my laptop or have it repaired) I started using my wife's older spare laptop from work that she keeps around. The problem is that being a corporate laptop it has Symantec security on board, so anything and everything on the hard drive is encrypted. She does of course have the same security software on her regular laptop, but I'm not sure how it works - is the encryption identical for each laptop used by the company so I could hook up the hard drive to her regular laptop, or is each laptop's encryption unique regardless? If the former, then sure, I could take out the hard drive from the problem laptop and set it up as an external HD on her regular laptop, then put it back once I've retrieved my information. Otherwise I'm back to the problem of trying to figure out how to break the loop I'm trapped in.
 

AlHuneke

Commendable
Jul 7, 2020
655
77
1,390
76
Dang. Disks are encrypted to prevent doing exactly what I suggested with the drive either in or out or the machine. I don't have any special expertise in that area and even if I did it is against forum rules to provide any decryption assistance.

With regard to the screws you put in--sometimes the screw length is critical and if too long will bump into something. Could that be your issue? If you take the new screws out does the machine work?
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Thanks for the reply.

I had thought of that (I've done it before with PC's) but there's a problem. The laptop in question isn't my regular one, but my wife's spare one from work - like many people during the COVID pandemic, she's been working from home for the last year or so, which is easy enough for her as she's a corporate writer - she can practically work from anywhere.

My own laptop started having issues when some of the screws in the base came loose without my realizing it, a few fell out and the case started coming loose, and even though I got some replacements and screwed it firmly back together the keyboard has been affected somehow insofar as the alphanumeric characters to the left (Q, A, Z, X, 1 & 2) won't work - kind of limiting when you're trying to write! I've tried opening it up to see if something's out of place but I can't see anything wrong with it.

So in the short term (until I can figure out what's wrong with my laptop or have it repaired) I started using my wife's older spare laptop from work that she keeps around. The problem is that being a corporate laptop it has Symantec security on board, so anything and everything on the hard drive is encrypted. She does of course have the same security software on her regular laptop, but I'm not sure how it works - is the encryption identical for each laptop used by the company so I could hook up the hard drive to her regular laptop, or is each laptop's encryption unique regardless? If the former, then sure, I could take out the hard drive from the problem laptop and set it up as an external HD on her regular laptop, then put it back once I've retrieved my information. Otherwise I'm back to the problem of trying to figure out how to break the loop I'm trapped in.
If you are trying to remove an encrypted drive to get to the files, you will need to first decrypt the drive, or have the encryption key handy along with a recovery disk for the system to unlock the drive.
 
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