Win 10 can't boot or repair after interrupted update

Sep 25, 2022
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I'm stuck in a worsening Win 10 situation, so will appreciate any advice. Suspect to be registry or Windows image corruption, but no longer have RegBack and having trouble with DISM.

Here's the sequence of events:

1) Laptop had very low disk space, but Windows still decided to download and auto-install an update.

2) Update was stuck on blue loading screen for hours, so I made the mistake of interrupting the update by turning off my laptop.

3) When I restarted, I got to the Win 10 logon screen but encountered the error: "User profile cannot be loaded" when I tried to sign-in.

4) Rebooted into safe mode, but got a black flickering Explorer screen.

5) So tried various troubleshooting:
- chkdsk ("Found no problems")
- sfc ("Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation.")
- bootrec (fixmbr: successful. fixboot: "Access is denied". rebuildbcd: "Total identified Windows installations: 0")
- WinRE Start-up Repair
- renaming system and software to .001

(I have no restore points to use.)

6) Situation keeps getting worse. Previously I could reach the logon screen or use Startup Settings to boot into safe/other modes. Now I can no longer do either of this.

Also could previously use CMD in WinRE, but for some reason after using "net administrator /active:yes", I can no longer do so. Can only use CMD with Recovery USB now.

Laptop is just stuck in a loop where it can't boot, so WinRE is loaded, but can't repair itself, and only option left is to shutdown again.

7) I created a Win 10 Recovery USB and used the "Repair your computer" option, but same error as WinRE: "Automatic Repair couldn't repair your PC". (I looked into the SrtTrail.txt logfile via CMD and everything seems to have been completed successfully without error/root cause.)

8) Finally decided on the drastic option of resetting Win 10, but even that doesn't work: "There was a problem when resetting your PC. No changes were made."

9) Luckily my personal files look intact. (I used the notepad.exe workaround to load up Explorer via WinRE.)

So with the situation now, I hope to do 2 things:

A) Back-up all my personal files.
What's the best way to do this when I can't boot and only have WinRE? Is there a simple way to backup in WinRE?

B) Thereafter, fresh install of Win 10.
Is there a way to perform a repair where only the Win 10 OS files are updated? Any other DISM commands I can try? The usual "online" commands don't work as I need to use CMD on the Recovery USB.

Otherwise I'll try the "custom" install option using the recovery USB, but I don't know if that will work since I don't currently have the required 10GB disk space to proceed. Plan to delete some files using CMD after I back-up, but of course this adds complexity and risks...

Thanks for any advice!


Sep 26, 2017
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A. I use a bootable Linux Mint USB drive to get the computer running then copy any files I need or that exist nowhere else to a different USB drive to ensure they are backed up then I start working on the Windows problems.

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