HELP! Win7 update hung on reboot

Discussion in 'Windows 64bit' started by George Neuner, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. Hi all,

    I've got an i5 running 64-bit Win7 Home Premium that is stuck in
    following yesterday's (2012-Jul-10) update release. Another similar
    machine (i3) updated without incident.

    The i5 is stuck at "Preparing to configure Windows. Do not turn off
    your computer." Unfortunately I walked away after restarting, so I
    did not discover the problem for a few hours.

    Despite the warning, I cycled power. When it came up I went into safe
    mode where it immediately rolled back the (presumably partial) updates
    and rebooted.

    But following the reboot, it tried again to install the updates and is
    stuck in the same place. The drive light is blinking furiously like
    it's trying to do something ... but now 10 minutes have passed since
    the boot with no apparent progress.

    I saw a note posted this morning on stating that someone
    else had the same problem with the last update (though on Win7Pro) and
    was able to break the cycle by booting to command line and deleting
    the "pending.xml" file in \Windows\WinSxS.

    Is this even a good idea? If so, how do I safely install the updates
    without a repeat of the problem?

    Any ideas welcome.
    George Neuner, Jul 11, 2012
    1. Advertisements

  2. No answer for a while now, so I tried this without success. I managed
    to enable the hidden Administator account from safe mode, but even
    from there I cannot delete or rename the file. Trying from safe mode
    command line I get "access denied". Trying from safe mode Explorer I
    get "you need permission from SYSTEM to do this". I cannot modify the
    file permissions nor can I take ownership of it.

    So now what?
    George Neuner, Jul 11, 2012
    1. Advertisements

  3. Ok, I managed to take ownership of "pending.xml" and "boot.xml" and
    move them to another directory (still can't delete or rename them in
    \Windows\WinSxs - maybe folder permissions?). Then I performed a
    restore to the point before the updates.

    Now I can log into safe mode, but I can't start normally. When I try,
    I get to the login screen, but when I select the user, I get stuck
    either with a blank screen or with the spinning icon "Welcome" screen.
    In either case the drive light blinks continuously like it's trying to
    do something (maybe update again?). I have let it go for up to 15
    minutes before cycling power to try something else.

    George Neuner, Jul 11, 2012
  4. I can't vouch for Win7 64bit, but the latest XP 32-bit updates seem to
    cause blue screens and blame the video drivers.
    Had two machines with the problem.

    Martin Riddle, Jul 12, 2012

  5. Hi Dominic,

    I tried restore (from safe mode) first without success. It rolled
    back what appeared to be a partial update, but when I rebooted
    normally the system immediately began to try to install the updates
    again ... a vicious cycle that I couldn't get out of.

    So I deleted the "boot.xml" and "pending.xml" files in WinSxS and
    tried a restore again. This stopped the update attempt but left me
    unable to log in on a normal boot ... I could log in only from safe

    After trying everything I could think of, I ended up calling M$ tech
    support. It took almost 3 hours to fix the problem. First challenge
    was to get safe mode with network operating ... that took a couple of
    registry edits on my part ... then the tech took over remotely. He
    uploaded the logs of the update attempt and agreed that it had fouled
    up royally. I tried to press him but he was noncommittal about which
    of the 6 updates was responsible. He did say that I was correct to
    delete the files from WinSxS, but he didn't understand why that plus
    the restore had not solved the problem.

    Anyway, he deleted a bunch of files and performed several registry
    edits and about 50 key deletes (way too fast for me to follow it).
    That restored normal login, after which he installed the 6 critical
    updates one at a time. And finally he charged me US$99+tax for fixing
    something that it appears was Microsoft's fault in the first place.

    His sage advice was "best practice is to clean boot before each update
    and install multiple updates one at a time with no other programs
    running". Now I don't normally run anything while installing updates,
    but the advice about "clean boot" certainly isn't practical for
    non-technical users. And who has hours to waste installing updates
    one at a time on multiple machines? I've seen up to 20 critical
    updates delivered in a single batch.

    I've been a professional software developer for Windows since 3.1 ...
    I've never had problems installing official service packs, but over
    the years there have been occasional issues with online updates.
    However, system restore always has worked for me in the past - this is
    my first experience of not being able to successfully roll back an
    update and have a working system afterward.

    I've educated my family about system restore and told them that it is
    ok to install critical updates ... now I am seriously rethinking that.
    I certainly don't have time to vet every potential update for the
    dozen machines running 4 different versions of Windows (2K, XP, Vista
    and 7) that various members of my family happen to be using ... and
    none of them are qualified to do it themselves. In my case, I also
    have multiple virtual machines (various development and test
    environments) that sometimes need to be updated. With a large batch I
    could spend an entire day nothing but updates. Even worse if I should
    have to do it for Linux too.

    George Neuner, Jul 13, 2012
  6. Goodness no. It's your responsibility to
    run Windows on an error-free computer.
    Evidently you didn't. :)

    Likewise, everyone else for whom these
    updates didn't work.
    All auto-selected, yes. And Microsoft
    officially recommends that you let them
    install automatically, too.
    My (ideal) method is to take a complete
    image of the Windows volume(s), which in
    practice I don't do often enough. But with
    Linux ntfsclone tool, for instance, you can
    create a disk image to go back to at any time.
    My data is on a different partition.

    Now, if updates fail, then, sure, run one at
    a time.

    My current machine is 32-bit Windows 7,
    a Dell Latitude ST tablet with SSD, and
    it has frequent hung-crashes and also has
    one-full-minute freezes, at random.
    (However, I got more hung-crashes when
    web browsing with Opera 12.00.) I'm
    open to suggestions about that, but it
    does present "natural" breaks in computing
    activity when you can catch up with the
    updates - only, just when you were trying
    to do something else on the computer,
    Robert Carnegie, Jul 13, 2012
  7. George Neuner

    miso Guest

    For opensuse, the updates are a breeze. It is updating windows that sucks.

    I recently did a conversion from hard drive to SSD. Try as I might, I
    couldn't get the dual OS HD cloned correctly to the SSD so that
    everything would boot. I could get it where at least windows could boot.

    Two plans of attack. One to do a fresh win 7 install, the other to do a
    fresh opensuse install. [Note you can always reuse the /home partition.]
    The thought of having to install all those windows updates let alone
    reinstall all the software was too much to handle. I deleted the
    opensuse root. It found the /home and the swap file, so all it did was
    install opensuse again AND fix GRUB.

    It has been my experience in doing windows updates that if you run out
    of hard drive space, things can go badly.

    I may be hallucinating, but I recall fixing a win2kpro PC where I had to
    install one of the updates while in safe mode. It wouldn't install
    otherwise. Doing a fresh win2kpro install was update hell.
    miso, Jul 13, 2012
  8. Can't speak to 32-bit. I've been running 64-bit Win7 on multiple
    machines (but not tablet) for over a year. Haven't had any trouble
    with it prior to this.
    I tried Opera long ago (v3?), but I didn't like it. I used Netscape
    until it went belly up and then switched to Firefox.

    George Neuner, Jul 17, 2012
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.