I broke Wondows 10, can't boot

I can't get my Wondows 10 PC to boot up because I made a big mistake. Everything was fine, no problems. I had an old pc and wanted to get some things off of the hard drive, so I put the old pc's hard drive into my current pc. It was recognized as drive H, I think. I was able to copy stuff off of it okay, but when the pc was turned off and restarted, it began booting up using drive H instead of drive C, which had Windows Vista installed. It right away went into System Repair.

I held the power button until the pc shut off, disconnected Drive H, and powered back on. The pc wouldn't boot. Just stayed at the screen showing the dots going around in a circle. So the Windows Vista system repair did something.

I powered the pc off and back on 2 or 3 times. It went into Automatic Repair, which seemed good to me. It's going to automatically repair, right? It said it might take up to an hour to complete. It did something for about 5 minutes, then went back to the screen with the dots going in a circle. Nothing seemed to be happening. I left it for 1.5 hours and it didn't seem to be doing anything. The hard drive activity light wasn't flashing. Nothing.

Powered off and on again and got into a system repair menu. Went to Troubleshoot, Advanced Options. Tried System Restore, which said there are no restore points, even though I have used system restore before. System Image Recovery says there is no image file to use. Startup Repair can't repair the pc and takes me back to the menu.

Not sure what to do now. I went into Startup Settings and tried to go into Safe Mode, but that wouldn't work. There is a Reset this PC option. Should I try that? It seems like a real pain because it will remove all programs that didn't come with the pc and reinstall Windows (8.1 I assume since that's what the pc came with. Then I'll have to upgrade to 10 again.). A lot of work for a few seconds of what Vista Repair did, and will be hard trying to remember everything I bought and/or installed.

It seems like there should be an easier way to fix whatever the Vista System Repair started doing. The Startup Settings menu has a bunch of things, but I don't know what they are for. This is where Safe Mode was. Also some logging options, and some things to disable.

Is there a simple solution?


Windows Forum Team
Staff member
The start up repair should only affect the booting drive. Have you tried to simply skip or exit the start up repair? You can also verify your boot entries exist by accessing the Advanced Start Up Menu > Troubleshoot > Adavanced options > Command prompt
Once you get to the command prompt type. bcdedit /enum you should have two entries

Skipping or exiting starup repair just goes back to the screen with the spinning dots and never boots.

I went back into >Troubleshoot>Advanced Options menu and there was a new option which wasn't there before: "Go back to the previous build". I selected this and it says it's restarting. It's been restarting for 20 minutes. How long is a reasonable time to allow for these things to work? There's no activity on the hard drive. I'll cancel this soon and try your command prompt suggestion.

BTW, twice I've seen new items show up when going back into the menus. Seems really strange for that to happen. All options should always be there I would think.

I'm curious, is it possible for the pc to boot off of another drive besides drive C like I'm thinking this did, or is this possibly a different problem altogether?

My son just got home from school and said that last night he was plugging his phone into the pc, got a ststic electicity type shock, and the pc shut off. He didn't try to restart it. This morning when I turned it on, the way things looked reminded me of Vista. It was starting up with a blue screen instead of the usual black screen, and the lettering was larger and blurrier. I wasn't looking at the screen for the first say 5 seconds, but when I did look at it, it was at the blurry blue screen saying System Restore. I may have incorrectly assumed it was booting with Vista.


Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor

You may have to put in a Windows disk and run reset to get things working again.

Reset Windows 10

But wait and see if anyone else has an idea as to how you can get it to boot without doing that.

When you get it back up and running make a System Image and a boot disk, using EaseUS Todo Backup (or what ever software you want, but this works great and it's free) so that in the future you will have a quick way of getting everything back up and running if you have problems that make your computer un-bootable.

Best free backup software for Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, etc - EaseUS Todo Backup Free

You can get a Windows install disk ISO here...

Windows 10


Ok I'm learning a few things, although I would have been quite content not ever having to learn this stuff. I saw how the boot drive is defined, so it seems not possible for the system to randomly start booting off of the Vista drive. The system restore that started probably had something to do with the way the pc unexpectedly shut down the previous night, and it probably had disastrous effects shutting off the pc like I did instead of cancelling the system repair.

The next thing I did was click on "Go back to the previous build" to see what options it would give me. It gave no options, just started doing stuff. It ran for about 2 hours. After it finished I was able to boot up the system, but it boots up to a black screen showing nothing but the cursor (it boots up to the login screen and looks quite normal. After logging in, it goes to the black screen with a cursor). Everything to do with the desktop is missing.

Ctrl-alt-delete brings up the task manager. From there I could open a command window, then open an administrator command window and run "sfc /scannow" to repair windows files. The first time it ran it found some errors and fixed them. Running it 2 or 3 more times found no more problems, but the pc still logs in to the black screen with a cursor. I can open up an explorer window from the cmd window and move around through the folders and even run programs. The pc seems fine except for the missing desktop.

So how do I get the desktop back? This is very frustrating. I wish I knew more. I'm sure an expert at this could fly through this and have everything back to normal real fast, but an expert I am not.

All fixed. I was poking around in this forum and a tiny window popped up down in the lower right corner saying "
Having problems with Windows 10 through Windows Update today? Use this tool: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10". Clicking on the link allowed me to download/update Windows 10. After doing that everything worked fine. After July when the upgrade is no longer available, I don't know how this would have been fixed.

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Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor

It sound like you did more of less what I suggested (Note that my link was to the same page you found.) and reset or reinstalled Windows 10.

Glad you got it fixed, the static shock thing was worrying, computers don't like static electricity! LOL

Run all your clean up tools, make sure you are malware free, and do make a system image file.

I've had really good luck using the software that I suggested.
I've restored Windows 10, 7 times since I started testing it, for one reason or another.

Just put the backups on the drive that Windows isn't on.

Then you will always be able to get your computer back up and running in less then an hour or so, (20 minutes for me, because I only have Windows on my C:\ drive).

I make an up to date backup about once a month, I keep 2 of them and delete the oldest so I always have more then one backup to go to if something goes wrong.

Good luck.


Thanks Mike, I'll do the things you suggested. I spent 16 hours getting this thing back to normal. Your 20 minutes would have been so much nicer!

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