In January 2020, Microsoft announced that they wouldn’t support Windows 7 anymore.
Despite Microsoft’s best efforts to get them to change their minds, many users have stuck with the old OS because they prefer its proven reliability and performance.
Nevertheless, Windows 7 isn’t without its glitches.
Windows 7 comes with a troubleshooting tool to automatically identify and fix common problems during the Windows boot process.
What happens if that tool becomes a problem of its own?
Sometimes Startup Repair takes a long time to load, and you do not know whether you should wait or just do something else.
Continue reading to see how long Startup Repair in Windows 7 should take and what you can do if it gets stuck.
How Long Is Normal For Windows 7 Startup Repair?
Startup Repair in Windows 7 should take between 15 and 45 minutes.
If it takes longer, something is wrong.
Why does it take so long?
It could be for two reasons: it is either stuck or your Windows simply can’t fix the problem.
Now let’s review each reason in detail and see what you can do to fix them.
Startup Repair Is Stuck
Your computer could get stuck in Repair Mode for two main reasons:
Your Master Boot Record (MBR) Is Corrupted
To start, Windows needs to pull some critical information from the first section of your hard disk, also known as the boot sector.
That sector contains what’s known as a master boot record, which tells Windows where its executable files and drivers are located on the hard drive.
Viruses, power outages, and disk errors can corrupt the data written in that record.
As a result, the boot process will not be able to locate the files required to load Windows, and it will force the computer to restart.
Your File System Is Compromised
More often than not, your MBR is fine, but other critical system files have become corrupted for the same reasons.
Like the previous case, your operating system can’t find the file it needs to load, and your system freezes.
Now let’s see how you can fix the issue.
Before you get started, remember that you need a Windows setup CD or DVD.
Alternatively, you can use a bootable USB drive with Windows installation files.
If you do not know how to make a USB drive bootable, read this guide.
Solution #1: Run Startup Repair Again
Follow these steps to run Startup Repair again:
- Put the Windows CD inside your drive.
- You’ll see Press any key to boot from CD or DVD.
- Now you need to choose a drive for Windows installation. Drive C:\ is the usual option.
- Select Startup Repair,
- The process will take a few minutes to complete.
Solution #2: Rebuild The BCD
Windows has a Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) tool that locates and repairs errors.
You can use the Bootrec.exe tool to fix your MBR configuration.
Here are the steps you need to take:
- Insert the Windows disk.
- Choose your language and select Repair your computer.
- Pick your Windows drive and press Next.
- Now type in these commands and press Enter after each one:
Solution #3: Run System Wizard
This solution works if only you have System Restore enabled on your Windows 7.
After inserting the disc and choosing your input methods, follow these steps:
- Pick the drive your Windows is installed and select Next—it’s often C:\.
- Once the System Recovery Options window opens up, choose System Restore.
- If you see only one option, press Next.
- If you see these two options, Recommended restore and Choose a different restore point, choose the second one unless you’re sure that the recommended option is the Restore point you need.
- Now choose your restore point and click Next.
- Confirm your choice and click Next.
- You see the message: Once started, System Restore cannot be interrupted. Do you want to continue? Click Yes.
- Your system now restores to the point you chose.
Startup Repair Failing To Work
Sometimes, when you’re using Startup Repair, you see the message Startup repair cannot repair this computer automatically.
You try restarting the computer, but nothing changes; the message is still there.
In this case, you’re most likely dealing with a type of file corruption that Startup Repair isn’t designed for.
Here are a few other options you can try.
Solution #1: Run sfc /scannow
The sfc /scannow command will scan your critical system files and replace the corrupted ones with a new copy.
Follow these steps to execute the command:
- Restart your computer.
- Press F8 a few times until you see Startup Options. (Note: depending on your motherboard, you may have to try F2, F12, or Del to get into Startup Options.)
- Choose Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
- When you see the Command Prompt window, type sfc /scannow /offbootdir=d:\ /offwindir=d:\windows.
- Press Enter and wait. When the process is over, restart your system.
Startup Repair Loop
Another common situation is when Startup Repair finishes successfully, and your computer restarts only to go into repair mode again!
That’s called a Startup Repair Loop.
The issue could be a hardware malfunction (especially your HDD), new hardware, viruses, and corrupted files.
You can always install a new Windows, but that means you’ll most likely lose the data on your C:\ drive—or at least your files will all be messed up.
You can also run bootrec or use Windows Restore.
Before taking drastic measures, however, try the following solutions to see if you can get your system back with the least damage.
Solution #1: Disable Automatic Startup Repair
Although this solution will not fix the boot issue, it will break the loop so that you can dig deeper into the root cause.
Follow these steps to disable automatic Startup Repair:
- Restart the system.
- Keep pressing F8 until you see a list with boot options.
- Select Disable automatic restart on system failure.
- Press Enter, and your computer will boot.
Solution #2: Use CHKDSK
You can use this command to find drive errors and repair them. Follow these steps:
- Boot your windows. If it’s not possible, use your Windows 7 CD or DVD as we explained before.
- Select Repair your computer and then choose Command Prompt.
- Now type chkdsk /r c: and press Enter.
If your Windows drive isn’t installed on drive C, type the letter of the drive. Let the process complete.
- Enter Exit and then press Enter.
- Restart your PC and see whether your problem is fixed.
Solution #3: Restore Windows Registry
Your Windows Registry is the database that stores all your Windows settings, from your hardware configuration to the locations of critical files.
If the information in your Registry is altered, there’s a large chance your system won’t load.
You can follow these instructions to fix it:
- Open Window Boot Options Menu. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.
- Enter the following command:
- cd C:\windows\system32\logfiles\srt\
If your Windows drive is not C, use the correct letter and press Enter.
- Enter txt and the file opens in Notepad.
- Press CTRL + O.
- Change the dropdown menu on the bottom right corner from Text Documents to All Files and go to C:\windows\system32.
- Right-click CMD and choose Run as administrator.
- Type cd C:\windows\system32\config and press Enter.
- Rename Default, Software, SAM, System and Security files to .bak to create a backup.
- Now Enter these commands and press Enter after each one:
rename DEFAULT DEFAULT.bakrename SAM SAM.bak
rename SECURITY SECURITY.bak
rename SOFTWARE SOFTWARE.bak
rename SYSTEM SYSTEM.bak
- Type in copy C:\windows\system32\config\RegBack c:\windows\system32\config and press Enter.
- Restart your system.
Solution #4: Remove The Damaged Files
If you can locate and get rid of the damaged files, you might be able to fix your Windows.
Follow these instructions:
- Go to Command Prompt again and type this command:
- Now, you see this message: Boot critical file C:\windows\system32\drivers\tmel.sys is corrupt.
- Enter this command:
- Restart your PC. If it doesn’t work, use the next fix.
How To Boot Windows 7 To Startup Repair
Boot your computer using your Windows 7 CD/DVD, and follow these steps:
- You will see Press any key to boot from CD or DVD.
Simply press a key on your keyboard.
If you don’t do this, your system boots to your current OS.
If that happens, just restart your system to boot the Windows.
- Wait until Windows loads all of the necessary files.
It is not making any changes to your files.
- Select your Windows language and click Next.
- Select Repair Your Computer.
(Note: Be careful not to choose Install now as this option will replace your old Windows.)
- System Recovery Options will spend a few minutes locating the current Windows instance on your PC.
- Choose Startup Repair from the list.
- Now the Startup Repair looks for any issues.
The system might offer you some solutions. Confirm them.
- The system tries to replace the files.
If you do not see this step, your system could not find any issues.
Your PC might restart several times. If that did not happen, there is nothing wrong.
- Select Finish and restart your Windows.
This process should fix your problem.
If the issue persists, try System Restore.
Alternatively, you can install another instance of Windows 7, but you’ll lose your customizations.
What Is A System Repair Disc?
The rationale behind creating a System Repair Disc is to create a backup of your system settings when your computer works.
Here are the steps you need to take to create one:
(Note: Windows 7 does not support a flash drive when you are creating a System Repair Disc, so you will need a CD.)
- Go to start, open all programs, and then select Maintenance
- Pick Create a System Repair Disc.
- Choose your optical disc drive.
- Put a disc inside your optical drive.
A System Repair Disk is not very large; therefore, a CD would be large enough.
Of course, if you have a DVD, that won’t cause any problems.
- Choose Create disc.
Wait until your system creates the disc.
(Note: You don’t need special disk-burning software.)
- Close the dialogue.
You can use this disk to boot your system and get to System Recovery Options.
Are Your Files Safe When Using Startup Repair?
Startup Repair should protect your personal information, but things happen.
Therefore, it is best to make a backup of all your personal files before running Startup Repair.