Troubleshooting Windows 8 and 10 Failure to Start

Technical Level : Intermediate

These steps will attempt to repair the OS using Advanced Startup Options. It does not cover hardware problems which might be indicated if these steps fail to run and can be tested using Memtest86+ to Test RAM for 5-6 passes, and hard drive Maker's HD Diagnostic Extended CD scan followed by Disk Checkfrom Advanced Startup OptionsCommand Line, after checking that HD is detected in BIOS setup or UEFI firmware. 


Unplug all USB devices and disconnect if possible all other hard drives.  Then unplug power and remove battery, press and hold Power button down for 30 seconds, plug back in power cable and try starting again. 

If that fails follow whichever method will work here for How To Access Advanced Startup Options in Windows 8 or 10 .  Note that Method 1 will sometimes work pressing Ctrl+Alt-Del to access Power icon in corner, then press Shift + click Restart. 

But without access to the OS you may need to Create Windows 10 Installation Media or Create a recovery drive on another PC,  boot by powering up while pressing the BIOS Boot Menu Key, choose the boot device as a UEFI device if offered, then on second screen choose Repair Your Computer. 

From the Troubleshoot options first try (in this order) automated Startup Repair, System restore, Go Back to old Build, then if necessary from Startup Settings try to get into Safe Mode with Networking.

If Startup Repair won't work after several tries in the Advanced Troubleshoot options access a Command Prompt to run these commands which should take care of corrupted boot records and blinking cursor problems:

Bootrec /Fixboot
Bootrec /Fixmbr
Bootsect /nt60 all /MBR

Reboot to see if it starts and if not run the additional commands in How To Rebuild the BCD in Windows [10 to 20 Minutes] to export and then rebuild the BCD. Note that it is often necessary to export the BCD first as detailed in the link, and the drive letter referenced may not be C.  To determine the boot partition's drive letter run:


Now look for the System partition.  If it doesn't have a letter run:

SELECT VOL # (replace # with Volume number for System Partition)

ASSIGN  (to assign a drive letter, now detected by List Volume).

These repairs are automated along with all other necessary repairs in the enhanced Easy Recovery Essentials disks available from NeoSmart, makers of EasyBCD and the world's top boot experts.

If nothing else works and Startup Settings are not available, you can try forcing the PC to restart  into  the legacy F8 Advanced Boot Options which is hidden in Windows 10 to choose Safe Mode with Networking. You'll need to first turn off Fast Boot in UEFI firmware settings and/or Fast Startup at Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Power Options\System Settings.  Then via Advanced Startup Options in Windows 10 access the Command Prompt to type:



bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy




Restart computer and repeatedly hit F8 F8 F8 to get menu for Safe Mode with Networking.    

From Safe Mode w/Networking type Update in Start Search box to Check For and expedite Updates that may be critical but are taking their time to install, right click Start button to open Device Manager, import any missing or erroring drivers from the PC or Device's Support Downloads webpage.  How to: Install and Update drivers in Windows 10 - Microsoft Community

If Safe Mode is stable the problem is most likely drivers, but could also need disinfection, System file repair or repair of the image.  Most of the Upgrade problems seen are corruption passed from the old OS. 

Download, install, decline trial version, update, then run full scans with Malwarebytes and AdwCleaner.

Uninstall any bloatware anti-virus like Norton, McAfee, AVG or Avast, enable built-in Defender to test performance.  Use the special Uninstallers (removal tools) for common antivirus software - ESET Knowledgebase.

Right click the Task Bar to open Task Manager, on Startup tab disable everything until your install stabilizes, then only restore those you know for sure you absolutely need starting with Windows – none of them really need to unless you want them. 

From the Advanced Options Command Prompt, or within Safe Mode accessing an Elevated Command Prompt,  Copy and Paste or type each of these commands, each followed by Enter:

sfc /scannow

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

If it prompts for Sources file, mount or insert Windows 10 installation media, locate install.wim or .esd file in Sources folder, substitute it’s path in the following command (for example: Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:wim:H:\Sources\Install.wim:1) 

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:wim:Full Path to install.wim file:1

(or)  Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:esd:Full Path to install.esd file:1

sfc/ scannow


If at any time you are returned enough functionality but still have problems with an app then Troubleshoot problems with an app - Windows Help .

If Safe Mode doesn’t help stabilize things then return to Advanced Startup Options in Windows 8 or 10.  Next try Command Prompt  to run above repair commands including sfc /scannow.  If these fail or you want to skip further repairs then choose Windows 10 Reset. 

Better yet do the vastly superior Clean Install Windows 10  which will reactivate with your Product Key, automatically from embedded Product Key if a factory install, or after connecting to the internet if free Upgrade was already activated. 

**One last resort to save the old install while doing the new one is to shrink the C partition using a bootable Partition manager like free Easeus, install to the shrink space which should configure a Dual Boot menu from which the old install may well start up.  If so you can post back a screenshot of Disk Management here and I will show you how to remove the rescue install and recover it's space (using Delete and Extend in Disk Management as long as the new partition is not marked System Active), or if the old install will not start up you can set up the new one and copy over the files, I'll show you how to remove the old one and recover its space.

At any time you can Rescue Files when Windows Won’t Start, or use a Linux disk, or boot  Paragon Rescue Kit Free Edition File Recovery Wizard to copy files to USB flash stick or an external or another hard drive. 

If these fail and/or you decide to go back to your previous install you can try to run Factory Recovery from it’s hotkey at boot;  find yours by googling the “PC make/model + Run Factory Recovery.”   Factory Recovery methods

Feel free to ask back any questions and keep us posted on how it goes. 


Forum Article Info

Last updated April 24, 2019 Views 44,858 Applies to:

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Hi, I am building a brand new PC and bought Win10 Pro USB Stick for $199. Win10 keeps crashing within less than a minute with different BSOD error message each time. 

I replaced the RAM thinking of bad RAM to no avail. I also replaced the Motherboard thinking it was bad motherboard, but again to no avail.  Created a brand new USB stick using Media creation tool and tried "Clean Install" with "Custom Install" option, but Win10 still keeps crashing either on startup or within 1min once I login.  On phone customer tech support (sounds outside of USA from accent) don't understand that that it's a brand new PC build with brand new Win10 install and keep asking me about the upgrade. Can you provide me any help??  Is there an phone number I can call where I can talk to expert who can walk me step by step to troubleshoot Win10 crashes?? Here's my PC config -

Processor: Intel i7-4700K (New Retail box)

Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme6 (New Retail box)

RAM: G.Skill Ripjaw X series 2x8GB 1866 DDR3 (New Retail)

OS: Windows 10 Pro (Retail USB stick)


Are you booting the stick as a UEFI device as illustrated in Clean Install Windows 10 then deleting all partitions on the drive down to unallocated space before creating/formating new or just clicking Next to begin? 

If it doesn't get that far, or answer is yes, then go over your build.  I would strip it down to only the motherboard and CPU, onboard GPU if applicable. 

Did you calculate the power needs using Power Supply Calculator ?

These are preliminary steps but we need to get this thread out of an unrelated Wiki Comments section, so please start a new thread with a very descriptive title that will lure in hardware specialists who know how to troubleshoot a new build.  Link the thread back here and I'll contribute as able but I am mainly a software guy so can best help when its stable enough to install. 

You were right to use MCT to create a new stick because we do see bad ones.  But I still suspect build.  So start there.

I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Approaching 100,000 helped in forums. I don't quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-19, Moderator

Thanks for the quick response Greg. I was booting using the USB option rather than UEFI.  So, I tried UEFI as noted in your wiki doc but it gets stuck at "Collecting information" during installation. See bottom left corner in the attached screen shot.  I will start a new thread and link it here as you suggested. I have stripped down to just the bare bones (ie. MB, RAM and CPU only) and am using EVGA 650W GS power supply. I doubt it's a hardware issue since I already replaced the MB and RAM sticks for new ones, and did a memory test and am able to go to UEFI settings. (unless it's a bad Intel i7 processor-possible).  I did see about 6 windows updates recommended after the install, including 1511 (4th or 5th in the list) and before I could take a picture, it crashed. And now, it keeps crashing either at the login screen or just after I login, so I could not get to the "Update and security" screen. I am pretty sure it is crashing during the updates. I was also able to check for updated driver before the crash and they were all up-to-date. I am going to try without entering the product key from my purchase as your recommended in your guide. Been struggling with this issue for 5 months now and always thought of a bad hardware or driver and gave Windows 10 Pro the benefit of doubt. 

Microsoft billing says they cannot replace or refund my $199 since it is past 30 days. Hope I can get the Wind10 Pro working with the MS Community help.. Already spent 10+ hours with Windows tech support on phone and on IM chat to no avail. 

Once again thanks for your quick response. I appreciate it. 

Hello Greg,

Here's the snapshot of file in the download from MCT.  Could you please verify that I am getting the corrent content.

Should the boot manager file be from 10/29/2015 or should it be dated post Nov 2015 update?

I was able to get the windows installed, but while I was going through the setup (ie. Express settings.. Work PC or Home PC.. etc) it crashed.. Then it went into infinite loop of crashing with below errors. 






Do you think it could be the case of 2nd bad motherboard (this is the replacement one for original)?



I started a new thread as you suggested for my problem Unable to get Win10 Pro working on New PC Build 

I really need your help to complete this tech project for my 12 year old son.  I have replaced all the hardware and checked all the connections to ensure nothing is wrong on the hardware side. 

I strongly believe it is Software (Win 10 Pro) issue where it fails due to not having lastest updates. How and where do I get the latest copy of Win10 Pro with Nov 2015 updates built in it. I already tried the MCT download, but don't think it has the Nov 2015 updates. 


So what do you recommend if all the LAPTOP will do is present the Manufacturer pre-boot screen.  There is no way to get into "safemode".  I can only bring up the BIOS screen.  after that just the manufacturer blazer screen.

This happened after the Windows 10 anniversary update.  This was running extremely well before the update.

You may need to create bootable  media using the Media Creation Tool on another PC, power up with media inserted while pressing BIOS Boot Menu Key, choose UEFI version of media if offered, or plain version if not, browse to second screen to Repair Your Computer, then Advanced Troubleshoot options for System Restore, Startup Repair, Go Back to Previous Build or Reset Your Windows 10 PC


If these all fail then I'd cut my losses and use the media you made do the vastly superior Clean Install Windows 10 which will activate using the latest version media after install as explained in Wiki.  Be sure to boot the provided media to delete all partitions to get it cleanest as illustrated.  


If you have files that were not backed up you can follow these steps to Rescue Files when Windows Won’t Start  


You can also run Factory Recovery from it’s hotkey at boot which you can find by googling your make/model + run Factory Recovery.   But the factory install is an inferior install most tech enthusiasts would never run, so I’d use this opportunity to get a cleaner install by running the Reset or even better the Clean Install Windows 10.


Ask back any questions and let us know how it goes. I will work with you as much as needed to perform these steps. 


I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Approaching 100,000 helped in forums. I don't quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-19, Moderator

That would be great if it would get far enough to give me a chance to select a boot source.  I can't get any menus or to the EFI boot screen or to anything at this point.  I have both a USB drive with the windows 10 install and a DVD drive attached with a DVD of the Windows 10 install.  I also have the Recovery CD on hand too alone with the restore USB drive standing by.  If I ever get to a screen that lets me do anything beside change the BIOS. I would do as you suggested.

Question?  How would one get the Windows OEM product key off a bricked Tablet with no Microsoft Genuine sticker attached to the outside or the inside under some cover or removal battery since this tablet has no removable parts.

NOTE: I did run a Key finder program but I accidentally used that USB for the recovery USB instead of a blank one.

You should always be able to boot media which is not dependent at all on the condition of the OS or hard drive and independent of it entirely. 

What BIOS Boot Menu Key are you using to trigger the menu?  What occurs? 

How was the media created? Only use media created directly by the Media Creation Tool.

Try unplugging all other drives and devices when booting it. 

If no boot menu then enter BIOS setup to reset BIOS to defaults, Save and Exit, try again. 

If this fails, Is hard drive detected in BIOS setup under storage devices? Physically unplug from underneath or disable the hard drive in BIOS to see if it's blocking the media boot.

If the tablet came with WIndows 8, 8.1 or 10 then there is no COA sticker with Product Key.  The key is embedded in the BIOS can will be picked up when you do a Clean install or run Factory Recovery. 

I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Approaching 100,000 helped in forums. I don't quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-19, Moderator

There is no internal hard drive only an SSD.  Nothing is replaceable.  Drive is not replaceable. Soldered to MB.  CPU soldered to MB. 

I hold the F2 key down while pressing the power button to get into BIOS.

Reset to defaults is what state it is in.  I have tried disabling the security mode so that I can get the boot option screen.  Never gets that far.  Nothing was plugged in when this was upgraded.  

Media Creation Tool used to created both USB and DVD.  Recover Drive used to create USB recovery drive and Repair Disc program used to create repair DVD.

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