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Steps to fix the Windows computer restart loop problem

Is your computer stuck in boot loop hell? See how to get out of the vicious cycle -- and find out why the problem occurred in the first place.

I have a Windows-based computer stuck in an infinite reboot loop. Why does this happen, and how do I keep it from continuing?

The computer restart loop problem is often the result of a device driver, a bad system component or hardware that causes a Windows system to spontaneously reboot in the middle of the boot process. The end result is a machine that can never boot completely.

There are several steps that can be taken to solve the reboot loop problem.

1. Attempt to boot in Safe Mode.

If you can boot the system properly in Safe Mode -- press F8 at startup -- there's a good chance whatever is wrong revolves around a device driver. Safe Mode loads its own set of fail-safe drivers, which are minimally functional, but more importantly, stable.

2. Disable the auto-reboot function.

By default, the Windows's automatic reboot-on-crash function is enabled on many systems, and this is likely contributing to the problem by not allowing you to see an actual crash screen. To disable the feature, the registry on the machine needs to be edited.

Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlCrashControl, and either create or edit a DWORD named AutoReboot, and set it to 0.

The blue screen of death, as we've come to not-so-fondly know it, usually isn't the welcoming sign, but when you're dealing with a reboot loop, it's better to see that than another reboot.

But there's a catch-22: You can't edit the registry without booting the system. If you can boot to Safe Mode as discussed above, then you're set. However, if Safe Mode doesn't work, you have to do an end-run around Windows and edit the registry offline.

There are several ways to do this. You can attach the system drive to another computer (e.g., by mounting it in an external drive enclosure), and then use RegEdit or another utility to change the AutoReboot value.

Or you can also use a utility like the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, which you can boot -- and use -- directly on the target system without actually booting Windows.

3. Note any crash messages once auto-reboot is disabled.

The blue screen of death (BSOD), as we've come to not-so-fondly know it, usually isn't the welcoming sign, but when you're dealing with a reboot loop, it's better to see that than another reboot. The messages on the screen are instrumental in determining what went wrong and why.

If you can reboot from such a crash into Safe Mode, there are tools available to help examine the crash information and diagnose it further. Microsoft has its own tools, but I recommend NirSoft's BlueScreenView freeware, which does all the heavy lifting and presents a concise report of all the BSODs recorded in the system.

4. Consider swapping hardware if there's no BSOD.

If reboot-on-crash is disabled and the system simply reboots without crashing, there may be something more serious going on. One culprit could be bad memory. Run a copy of Memtest86+ on the offending computer overnight to make sure everything is solid.

5. Attempt an in-place repair or a fresh install.

An in-place repair -- installing a copy of Windows on top of another copy --preserves the applications and user settings, but it reinitializes the system components afresh. This option should only be used if everything else fails.

Note that Windows Vista and Windows 7 experienced far fewer computer restart complications as opposed to Windows XP reboot loop issues, possibly because of how things were reworked in those operating systems.

Windows 10 reboot loop solutions

As with other Windows OSes, a continually restarting Windows 10 operating system exhibits the same familiar BSOD -- the computer stuck in a reboot loop. It may also display a message like Internal Power Error, with similar problems. Even if you updated to Windows 10 over top of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 the infinite loop conundrum is an ever-present possibility.

One Microsoft fix provides an update to correct this. The procedure is:

Open Settings > Update & security > Windows Update

Click on Check for updates and a further update will then repair the endless reboot loop issue. To prevent Windows 10 persisting in a computer reboot loop, please see that you have the correct drivers and that they are compatible with the Windows 10 operating system.

Next Steps

Emergency restart Windows 10

Windows 10 image repair on boot fail

Swatting away the five pesky, all-too-common Windows 10 bugs

This was last published in September 2016

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Currently running WindowsXP system. Our Building had a Power Outage. The power was out for about 20-30 seconds. After Power came back on. We tried to reboot the computer. During that process we encountered a situation where the computer would reboot, and continue to try to reboot itself. It's as if the computer is in a boot loop or something. Because we don't have the install disks that would have come with the computer. The only option is to continue to try to reboot the system in the normal manner. We tried several times to boot in safe mode with no response. We also tried to disable the reboot process and that certainly didn't work

We tried several other options found here on the internet but with no luck at all. The information below is what we have tried thus far.

I have a Windows-based computer stuck in an infinite reboot loop. Why does this happen, and how do I keep it from continuing?

The reboot loop problem is often the result of a device driver, a bad system component or hardware that causes a Windows system to spontaneously reboot in the middle of the boot process. The end result is a machine that can never boot completely.

There are several steps that can be taken to solve the reboot loop problem.

Attempt to boot in Safe Mode.
If you can boot the system properly in Safe Mode (press F8 at startup), there's a good chance whatever is wrong revolves around a device driver. Safe Mode loads its own set of fail-safe drivers, which are minimally functional, but more importantly, stable.

Disable the auto-reboot function.
By default, the Windows's automatic reboot-on-crash function is enabled on many systems, and this is likely contributing to the problem by not allowing you to see an actual crash screen. To disable the feature, the registry on the machine needs to be edited.
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How have you resolved the torments of a computer stuck in boot loop hell?
Cancel
hi.. i had a reboot loop problem with one of my Dell optiplex 760's after installing windows 7 and tried everything. tested the powersupply. bought a new batt for the motherboard. tested the ram on one of my other pcs and everything was working. i searched the net for help but seemd like nobody had a solution. here is what i did and my pc is booting up like it should. set your bois that it boot from cdrom and secondly your hardrive. then boot up with your windows cd. click next and then startup repair. then click finish when its done and reboot. if is is still doing the rebooting loop then boot up again with the windows cd and click on command prompt. enter bootsect/nt60 SYS/force or bootsect/nt60 ALL/force and hit enter. It should tell you that the boot file is replaced. Now your windows will be able to boot up by itself..
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First try going in safe mode. Restart the computer and when your computer powering on and tap f8 couple of time and than start the computer in safe mode with networking. Remove all unwanted programs and cut down some start up programs and update the software.
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