Windows boot/repair/install problems

My daughter has a Dell laptop which is not booting, and I’m trying to fix it… I can’t use the F8 option to go into safe mode. Upon attempting hard reset several times, the “Preparing Automatic Repair” message comes up, which is supposed to happen. However after this message is on screen for some time, it goes away and the screen goes black. It never proceeds into the Auto repair screens. I tried to run Spinrite on it, but that failed due to known issues with large drives (Division error - has something to do with particular BIOS systems).

So I tried to make a Windows boot disk with the Media Creation Tool. Booting with this (USB) drive, the Windows logo appears for a while, then again goes to black screen.

I then made a Mint Linux boot drive (USB). This does in fact boot into Linux OK, and I can see that the hard drive is there. I copied some files to an external drive, (and will copy a lot more before the last resort of wiping the drive).

Thinking the Windows boot disk is faulty, I then used it in my own Dell desktop PC. It does successfully boot into the installation screen, where I can choose the Repair options instead. This rules out a problem with the USB drive itself and the Windows install media on it.

So, to recap - laptop won’t boot into safe mode, repair mode, or even from Windows media to repair or reinstall, yet it does boot into Linux from USB.

Any ideas on what could be wrong? Suggestions on how to proceed?

P.S. This may or may not be relevant, but she recently replaced the battery on the laptop. She seems to think she started having problems after that, but I’m not sure.

Can you run it without the battery to see if it’s causing issues? How old is the laptop? Is it Win 7 or Win 10?

To me, it sounds like either power or thermal issue, like a faulty CPU fan or a clogged radiator.

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Issues are always hard to diagnose without having the device in front of you. My speculation is that since it will boot into Mint (Which runs completely off of the flash drive until you tell it to install) but the current installation of Windows as well as any bootable installation media all are failing (or more likely just slowing to a crawl) I would suspect the hard drive is failing. My main reasoning for that is anything that would be trying to access the hard drive is having issues. I would copy everything that you want to save off of that drive quickly and throw a new drive (or SSD) in there and see what you get from that. Though it couldn’t hurt to clean it up while opening it up to replace the drive.

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I would agree that it seems to be the hard drive, usually when you can not get any software to install or run from to that hard drive itself its a failing or dead drive. I would swap out the drive with another one or a new drive and try to reinstall Windows.

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Sounds reasonable, however, the drive seems to be working fine in another machine, so it’s not clear if it’s actually failing.

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If you are referring to this statement I believe the OP was talking about the Windows boot disk that was made on the flash drive. Though I could be mistaken.

You’re most likely right. I misread that. It’s the installation media that was used in the other machine, not the drive from the laptop.

Anyways, let’s hope the owner puts some more light on it. It’s really hard to troubleshoot without having immediate feedback.

What I would do, since Linux boots on it, would be checking S.M.A.R.T. data and running the short and/or long test. GSmartControl should be there by default. Maybe this would bring us further.

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That could absolutely be done but first thing I would do is remove anything that they want to save just incase the stress tests end up killing it.

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Your suggestions make sense, that it’s likely the HD, and booting Linux from USB gets around that.

Thanks for the responses.

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No problem, I hope that you figure it out.

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