The most recent Patch Tuesday updates from Microsoft seem to be putting some Windows 10 PCs in a boot loop — and we can confirm that it’s real, because it happened to us.
The eagle eyes over at Windows Latest spotted several threads on Reddit, Microsoft’s forums, and other discussion boards in which Windows users complained of PCs going into Automatic Repair mode after installing the Jan. 12 updates.
“I got a ‘Automatic Repair’ bootloop issue with this update on Lenovo T14 AMD,” wrote Reddit user Numitron last week. “Immediate boot failure and reset without any BSOD or any other error. It just boot[s] me into the recovery environment after failing the last boot.”
“I woke up to my laptop working in automatic repair mode this morning, and it [was] telling me that automatic repair could not fix whatever issue occurred,” wrote Microsoft Answers commenter KnightTime71 on Jan. 13.
“I went to Advanced Options to see about going to a Restore Point, and the most recent was this morning at ~12:30AM for Windows Update. However, it says it cannot restore because of disk corruption,” KnightTime71 added. “It seems that Windows Update has FUBARed my laptop.”
Our own experience with this bug
This isn’t just conjecture. It happened on one of our own Windows laptops the other day, a 2018 Dell Latitude 5490 running Windows 10 version 20H2.
For a different story, we had triggered what would normally be a harmless Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) crash by typing in a specific file path into a browser address bar. (Yes, we should have done this in a virtual machine.)
The Dell laptop, which had not been powered on for a couple of weeks beforehand, rebooted normally. We triggered the bluescreen a couple of more times (research!) and then left the laptop running happily. We’re not sure if the January updates were installed or not.
Our IT department messaged us that we needed to reboot the laptop again per request of the corporate antivirus software. We did so, and the machine has been stuck in Automatic Repair mode ever since.
None of the usual quick-repair options have worked, including booting from a Windows installation USB drive or using Safe Mode. We’re kind of stuck.
It’s possible that the BSOD error we were playing with earlier is the true source of our woes, but this new issue makes a lot more sense. (We finally did spin up a VM to test the BSOD error and couldn’t replicate the Automatic Repair issue.)
A possible solution
Reddit user Numitron said they were able to fix the issue by running the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to manually roll back the January updates using this command:
dism /Image:C: /Cleanup-Image /RevertPendingActions
Other users, however, said that didn’t work for them. It won’t work for us until we can convince an IT technician to give us the password to an administrative account.
We’ve asked Microsoft for comment about this issue — it’s personal, after all — and will update this story when we receive a reply.