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  • Still No Repair Function in Windows 10

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Questions: Win10 Still No Repair Function in Windows 10

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      • #2282081
        Ben Myers
        AskWoody Lounger

        This is a rant, so get ready for it.

        Windows 10 was released for general public consumption on July 29, 2015.  So here we are, almost 5 years later and Satya and the lesser [beings] of Microsoft have not seen fit to build a repair option into Windows 10 install media, like Windows 7!  (And don’t let me get started on what an impediment UEFI is to system repairs.)  The Microsoft web site does not even address how to fix Windows when it won’t even boot, except to do a clean install from scratch.  This is not good, because it blows away customer data AND blows away any and all activated licenses for software, so you lose activation for Office or maybe even more expensive software.

        The reason for my rant is that yet again, I have another Windows system, hardware 100% OK as far as I can tell and it simply will not boot, not even in safe mode.  I have not talked to the client yet, but the info for the restore points (which I am cleverly locked out from using) tells me that yet again a Windows update failed and failed badly with “CRITICAL PROCESS DIED”.  So tell me which process so I have a clue.   Worse yet, the various Microsoft websites provide zero useful information about this BSOD and how to fix it.  Other people have written lots of web pages telling how to fix the system with this BSOD,  but they all assume that you can boot in safe mode, at minimum.  Nope.  Same critical process died.

        Bottom line is that you are stuck if the system cannot boot up minimally on its own steam.

        My only recourse here is to save whatever of the client’s data I can scavenge and hope he does not have expensive software licenses to blow away.  I think he does not.  He has very simple uses for his computer, but still, the absence of things like background colors, contacts, passwords and other personal stuff can be disconcerting for someone who is a very casual computer user, not wanting to learn all about Windows.

        Bootable WinPE flash sticks do not help either.

        Equally annoying is that this Windows 10 defect seems to fly below the radar of the trade press, both tech and general.

        End of rant!

      • #2282106
        anonymous
        Guest

        Well, I had a similar rant a while back.

        On the update of windows 10, it actually did boot up, but the process took all my data, all my preferences, and two non-Microsoft programs off my computer. Trying to use software I didn’t find how to use, I could not get money back. Finally with software and all, took it to the repair shop and with an expense of $370, I was able to get all of my work back from backups. Except I had to continue for a month to find everything I needed along with setting preferences to non-MS software.

        I’m not sure why Microsoft feels it needs to do so much updating and keep on producing more which is not necessary for anyone but the guru computer guys. It has become so complicated that I’d almost rather go back to my C/PM computer with command line DIY stuff.

        As an editor I can’t spend the time fixing Microsoft Windows, nor have I been able to when there are directions to do so. I’m fine for now and have been able to stop updates by turning off the computer after hours so the new stuff doesn’t interfere with what I need to do.

        We are not all gurus of the computer world, and in this case I certainly don’t want to be, but I also find I can’t control updates, and I can’t afford the results.

      • #2282118
        Ben Myers
        AskWoody Lounger

        When it comes to diagnosis and repair of Windows computers, I may be close to guru status, having handled thousands of computers since way back in Windows 3.0 days.  But I find the lack of a simple Windows 7-like repair function to be an unconscionable omission from Windows 10.  The best one can do is “reset”, which means a reinstall while retaining one’s own data, but not any installed programs.  If one does the reset, all licensing and activation information is lost for potentially expensive programs.  So if one has AutoCad, the full Adobe Creative suite, and SolidWorks, either kiss them off, or beg whine and plead with unsympathetic vendors about the loss.  Huh?  I’m exaggerating, of course, and full image backups handle the situation for those who’ve spent their life savings on software.  Too many consumers do not realize the importance of backup until it is too late, and image backups are often too difficult to learn.   In the consumer and SOHO spaces, if one takes the computer to a name brand big box store (I won’t name names here), the usual response is to try to sell a new computer, because the store’s techs have relevant little problem-solving experience.  That’s where I come in, but it is painful at times to deal with Microsoft’s often monumental incompetence.

        Today’s computer seems to have some version of Office with Outlook in use, and not much else.   Not sure if I can extract product keys.  Will try.  Will call tomorrow and find out what they want to do.

        • #2282123
          Elly
          AskWoody MVP

          With your experience, do you have a preferred back up strategy to recommend?

          People may learn the hard way, but it is good to point them in a solid direction for the future…

          Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

          • #2282127
            Ben Myers
            AskWoody Lounger

            Which backup strategy to use?  It all depends on the cash in the owner’s pocket and their perceived ability to follow a step-by-step procedure.  I am not always dealing with high rollers or PhD’s here.  With some of my clients, I simply won’t broach the subject.  The time to train them would be beyond extensive, even with a clearly written procedure to follow, and it would probably devolve to my doing the backups on a regular basis.

            I have one client all set up to do full image backups onto alternating external drives, whenever they think a backup is needed.  Not busy?  No back up.  Very busy?  Maybe weekly backups?   Others may want to follow a regular schedule, weekly or monthly.  The image restore procedure is foolproof, but I’ll probably do it for them if and when needed.  In short, that’s my recommendation for backup.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2282130
              Kathy Stevens
              AskWoody Lounger

              With Acronis True Image you can schedule a daily system backup with the backup running in the background. No need for client involvement.

              • #2282135
                Ben Myers
                AskWoody Lounger

                Not exactly.  If one wants to do belt-and-suspenders backup on a single computer, one needs two external devices.  Belt-and-suspenders takes into account that maybe a backup failed, and maybe its overkill.  So manual intervention is required to plug the right external drive into an USB port, whether backup is done daily, weekly or otherwise.

                If one decides not to be belt-and-suspenders, it is not good for the health of a drive to leave it connected to an USB port, either on the computer or maybe a router USB port.  Spinning drives eventually wear out.  Backup to SSDs works, though.

                I’ve said what I want to say about backup, and I’d rather continue to focus this thread on fixing a non-booting Windows 10 computer.

                Thank you for your thoughts.

                1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2282120
        joep517
        AskWoody MVP

        --Joe

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2282122
        Ben Myers
        AskWoody Lounger

        Joe,

        Thanks for the suggestion, Joe.  Been there, done that, no joy.  The crux of the problem remains that I can’t get into the usual repair options of a normal running Win 10 system because the computer will not boot cleanly, no matter what option I try.  Always the same cryptic and useless “CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED”.   Microsoft probably has a special design team called “Designing Bad BSOD Messages”.

        I have looked at at least 10 web sites that purport to solve the problem, but they all make the working assumption that the computer is, in fact, working, that it boots up to some sort of desktop like safe mode.  What says Microsoft?  Effectively, crickets.

        Hence my extreme frustration.

         

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2282126
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Lounger

        As a last resort, we have recovered systems from a backup.

        We use Acronis True Image for backups. Our machines are backed up twice a day. At noon we backup to internal drives dedicated to backups and at 5:00 P.M. to drives that is stored offsite.

        In the event of a catastrophic system failure we reinstall Windows 10 and Acronis and then then recover the full system from the most recent back up using Acronis.

        At worst we lose a half day’s work.

         

        • #2282129
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          Acronis is but one excellent solution for an active business with its own designated IT person, even someone who does not do it full time.

          Doesn’t fix Windows 10, though.  :>(

          • #2282132
            Kathy Stevens
            AskWoody Lounger

            You can install Acronis on one of your clients machines then set it and forget it until the back up drive is full or you have a system failure.

      • #2282128
        joep517
        AskWoody MVP

        Are you even able to access the recovery environment? The procedure described in the article does not require a clean boot.

        --Joe

        • #2282131
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          Nope.  Startup repair results in an error message and same old “CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED”.  I’ve given up trying repeatedly, hoping for a miraculous result, which, of course, will not happen.  There are also various other anomalous error messages from attempts at chkdsk, dism, and on and on.

          Apparently this is a Windows 10 Update that really hosed Windows.

           

          • #2282163
            doriel
            AskWoody Lounger

            I agree, that if Windows crashes, its nearly impossible to repair it. I was caught in infinite loops numerous times, when I booted up from USB, selected repair, then reboot happened and all over again.
            Also errors like BOOTMGR is missing are lot of fun 🙂 official MS how-to functions not.
            You SHOULD try options mentioned by MS, but it never workd for me. On microsoft forum, they keep repeating same mantra, which functions not. It really frustrating and unrepairable.

            In fact, I reinstall OS everytime this happens I dont waste my time anymore.

            Also, did you notice how “troubleshooting dialog/repairing networking problem” inside Windows never functions too?

            Backup for success!

            Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

            HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

          • #2282228
            joep517
            AskWoody MVP

            How are you getting to be able to attempt dism and others? That implies you are able to boot successfully.

            --Joe

            • #2282245
              Ben Myers
              AskWoody Lounger

              This all starting to seem like I am Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.  I’ve been through most every suggestion made here, so I’ll take another suggestion, cut my losses (lost time), save client data to a spare SSD (just in case) and “Repair” Windows by doing an install with the option to save user data, then reinstall Office, get client’s email address and password, set up Outlook, import old Outlook PST.

      • #2282137
        bbearren
        AskWoody MVP

        Try mounting a comparable install.wim (same version, same edition of Windows 10) to a folder on your bench machine.  Copy that entire folder to your Bootable WinPE flash stick.

        Boot the problem PC with your flash stick, then from a command prompt run

        dism /image:c:\offline /cleanup-image /restorehealth /source:[x:folder]\windows

        where [x:] is the drive letter of your flash stick as seen by the problem PC and [folder] is the name of the folder to which you mounted the install.wim.

        Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
        "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
        "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

        • #2282188
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          Yep.  Tried that, too.  Fails.

          “When you’re troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex.”—M.O. Johns   You are preaching to the choir.

        • #2282236
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          I have run DISM unsuccessfully from a WinPE flash stick.

          The best I can do after Windows 10 tries to repair and fails is open up a command window, after clicking on advanced options.  Chkdsk finds no errors, logical or physical, corroborating the hard diagnostic I ran earlier.  DISM won’t run from there either.  Running Winver from command line shows Version 1903.

          Spoke to client, confirming that this was the result of a failed Windows update, either because the system was powered down before the update completed or because the system had only 4GB(!) of memory.  Mini-rant: These brand names and big box stores all get away with selling under-configured systems for cheap to people who know next to nothing about computers.

          So I’ll save the client’s data onto a spare SSD just in case, reinstall Windows 10, telling it to retain client data, reinstall a legit copy of Office, get Outlook email address and password, set up Outlook and import PST.

          No other approach at repairing Windows 10 is viable.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2282243
            joep517
            AskWoody MVP

            Can you run a System Restore from the command line?

            --Joe

            • #2282254
              Ben Myers
              AskWoody Lounger

              Rstrui runs and tells me it can’t restore any of the three restore points.

               

        • #2282246
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          I’ll add to the aphorisms in your message:

          Make sure the hardware is 100% functional, then go ahead.  Too often, people doing troubleshooting disregard the hardware, dive right into the software and only manage to make things worse.

      • #2282143
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Not sure if I can extract product keys

        Run Belarc Advisor and save the report.
        The report has the list of your hardware, installed software, license keys..

        • #2282186
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          Good idea, except that Belarc Advisor won’t run if the system won’t boot to allow it to run.  I wonder if running Belarc from a WinPE flash stick would provide useful information?   Something to try.  Thanks for the suggestion.

      • #2282174
        anonymous
        Guest

        I may be missing the point here, but the Windows 10 (W10) installation media (on DVD in my case) does (or did) have a Repair option! If you can boot from the installation media (DVD or USB?), then on one of the 2 or 3 pages which appear before the installation starts, in the lower left corner there is (or was – I haven’t tried a recent version) a link with a small label “Repair this computer” (or words to that effect) in very small letters. This brings up the recovery environment as shown in “JoeP’s” linked article.

        I haven’t used this recently, but I have kept a W10 1607 installation (well out of date in general) because of this “Repair this computer” s/w which I have used to get to a command prompt to “import” BCD data on a couple of occasions, even for Windows 10 versions later than 1607.

        Now the “tools” in this environment may not fix your specific problem (the W10 “automatic repair” thing seems particularly weak), but you may be able to do something from a command prompt window (like my “import”), even from an older W10 installation media.

         

        • #2282185
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          “Repair” in Windows 10 allows one to reinstall Windows, either preserving user data or wiping the system clean.  There is no option to retain programs one has installed, particularly products with product keys and paid-for licenses, as was possible with  Windows 7, albeit with additional work afterwards.  It is the loss of the client’s paid-for programs that is the most serious issue here.  Any free software can be downloaded from the web.

          The OS on this computer was badly damaged by a Windows update, so reverting to any restore point gives a can’t do error message.   And, yes, the computer passes hardware diagnostics.

          In short, what we have here is a regression from Windows 7 repair.  I have done so little with Windows 8/8.1, that I have no clue about repairing it.

          • #2282192
            anonymous
            Guest

            Windows 10 (W10) is a regression compared to W7. No disagreement from me there, but I thought the idea was to recover from this sub-optimal position (not just to rant)?

            The W10 recovery environment in a W10 Installation Media .iso DVD/USB stick does allow a user to do more than just re-install Windows. In particular run a command prompt, go to C: and try to repair things e.g. run “sfc /scannow” or similar things to try to repair the file structure. No guarantee that any of these things will work, but you could give them a try.

            If I was you, my objective (after making a “clone” of the PC’s system partition in case several attempts are needed) would simply be to get the PC to boot up, even though it may be in an unknown (un-repaired) state (a combination of both old and new versions) and then re-install the new version of W10 from a DVD/USB based .iso within the booted up PC where installed programs can be kept.

            Presumably the “windows.old” folder this will leave behind will be a corrupt mess, but the re-installed new version of W10 may be OK and installed programs should still be there. If this results in another mess, you have backup/clone to try something else.

            BTW: W8 allowed the user to burn a recovery disk/USB stick like W7, but in W8.1 the user has to run the recovery environment in the W8.1. installation media like in W10 (lower left option on 1st or 2nd page before installation starts) which I’m trying to explain above 🙂

             

            • #2282253
              Ben Myers
              AskWoody Lounger

              Good suggestion, but not viable.  The system simply will not boot to a windowed environment, not even in safe mode.  That has been the crux of the problem from the get go.  If somehow I could get the system back to its oldest restore point, that, too, would be OK.  But rstrui does not allow.

              So… Save user files, reinstall Win 10, and rant another day about the inadequacy of Windows 10 repair capabilities.

              1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2282385
                doriel
                AskWoody Lounger

                Agreed, if you run W10 installation from USB, you cannot update system and select “Keep personal files and apps”. It tells you tu run setup from Windows itself. Dead end road there.

                Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

                HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

      • #2282322
        DougCuk
        AskWoody Plus

        I have had much the same experience and wasted countless hours (days even) attempting to repair several Win10 systems that just refused to boot or run system restore. In one case I even forked out for a NeoSmart EasyRE repair disk – which did in fact get the system working! But I never did work out what exactly it had done to fix the problem – and I don’t like fixes where I have no idea what has been messed with. A clean wipe and reinstall gives me a better sense of confidence that it is all working.

        • #2282329
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          I have had some success resuscitating Windows 10 systems that cannot be coaxed into booting, so I try.  But the success rate is not that high and the compensation for what I do not high either.  I just wiped the hard drive of the system, after saving the owner’s data, and reinstalled, with 2004 this time.  I have owner’s data saved on a spare SSD, so it can be copied back once I set up the user name.

          The Windows 7 repair install used to work very well 99% of the time, so why Microsoft removed a proper repair install over an existing setup from Windows 10 is beyond me.  The main impediment to a successful repair install seemed mostly to be in how the fragile and possibly corrupted registry from the previous install was handled.  It was certainly more successful than “Automatic Repair” and clearly more successful than many Windows updates.

      • #2282352
        anonymous
        Guest

        Win10 = Phone OS

        They want you to sign in with an MS account and only install programs from MS and the store. Reset/wipe, sign in and “everything will sync”. Just like phones.

        • #2282359
          Ben Myers
          AskWoody Lounger

          Yes, and Windows 10 was, is, and always will be the Microsoft sales vehicle.  This explains why Windows 10 is a free install-and-activate for any legitimate product key, Windows 7 and later, and why Windows 10 activates automatically when installed with Win 8 info baked into the BIOS of a name brand system.

          • #2282450
            doriel
            AskWoody Lounger

            Please bear in mind, that Windows is not product anymore. Its a service (WaaS).
            Also, it contains ads and its not your property. You just buy the right to use the license.

            Windows 10 activates automatically when installed with Win 8 info baked into the BIOS of a name brand system.

            Thats called OEM license and it is very useful feature. Free update to Windows 10 is IMO good thing. It is attempt to “unify” OS environment and improve security.

            Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

            HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2282483
              anonymous
              Guest

              doriel wrote:
              Please bear in mind, that Windows is not product anymore. Its a service (WaaS).

              Yeah, the MS marketing folks really want to normalize the idea of “WaaS”: Windows as a Service.

              But whenever I hear their marketing-speak, I find myself thinking back to the pre-Win10 era – the era of “WaaOS“: Windows as an Operating System.

              1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2283645
        doriel
        AskWoody Lounger

        Hello, I encountered update problem on one of our PCs. SO I followed exactly all way to fix the issue from Microsoft answers. Observe the outcome:
        1) Updates cannot be installed

        mik07

        2) install updates manually from update catalog (updates were not installed, even if gauge went to 100%, then installation says it was not installed)

        mik01

        3) run system checker, error found, windows cannot repair it

        mik03

        4) check the log, there were tons of “unable to load manifest errors”

        mik04

        4a) notice these *.txt logs are big

        mik4a

        Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

        HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

        Attachments:
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2283650
          doriel
          AskWoody Lounger

          5) run the dism tool to repair, very nice output BTW

          mik05

          6) check the error log again

          mik06

          7) run windows troubleshotin for updates – it enabled my ethernet connection, which I disabled intentionally, “problem repaired” it said

          8) try again

          mik0

          Sorry for off topic, but this is exactly, how Windows rapair and troubleshooting works. Its the same with repairing boot issues, there is just no way to fix it for me.

          Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

          HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

          Attachments:
      • #2284359
        opti1
        AskWoody Plus

        Silly question, maybe, but does the problem computer have a battery, and if so have you played with that?

      • #2284365
        @ben-myers
        Guest

        I gave up, copied customer data onto a spare USB SSD after booting from a WinPE flash stick.  Then I simply reinstalled Windows from scratch.

        Life moves quickly around here, so I put this mess out of my mind, and, frankly, I cannot recall whether the computer was a laptop or desktop.  Too much else going on these days with other interesting and functional equipment to set up.

        Removing any and all removable batteries is part of the diagnostic protocol for me, to force the CMOS to become corrupted, then recognized as such by the BIOS.  With a desktop, pop the C2032 coin battery and, literally, wait a minute.

        With laptops, internal batteries can be problematic to disconnect, and ditto for the CMOS battery.  In that case, push and hold the power button for 30 seconds and hope the CMOS becomes corrupted.  Otherwise, some disassembly required.

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