Yesterday I ran into some problems with my old laptop. I powered it on, like on any other day and it started running automatic repairs for an unknown reason. The automatic repairs ran Windows Defender offline check, which ended up failing every time and the laptop got stuck in an endless restart & check loop. Since the laptop is running Windows 10, accessing BIOS during boot up is deactivated by default (Or that’s what I understood during my googling).

Day 1

Problems while trying to fix the laptop with common methods.

  1. Endless loop and BIOS is not accessible. (Can’t change boot device)
  2.  I tried using my old windows 8.1 installation disk, which was not recognized by the laptop, since the laptop’s hard drive is the primary boot device.
  3. I tried using Windows 10 installation media via USB stick which I made on my main PC. I used Rufus and Microsoft’s own software to create it, on different occasions. No success, since the hard drive is still the primary boot device.

I made a post on Windows 10 forums, asking for advice. No luck there.

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Day 2

No luck with the common methods, so what’s next?

I’m a student and I can’t afford to take the laptop to some repair shop, where they might actually have a working, but expensive solution.

Next thing that came to my mind, might be a bit risky for the laptop’s health.

  1. Removed the battery and the back panel of the laptop.
  2. I removed the hard drive (HDD).
  3. Started the laptop with USB stick plugged in, to make it the only and primary boot device.
  4. Windows 10 installation starts! But… there’s no HDD to install to…
  5. I hot-plugged the HDD, while the laptop was in the beginning of Windows installation. No success, since the laptop is unable to find the HDD during run time…

Note about hot-plugging:

Hot-swapping/plugging HDD’s that use SATA-connection should be okay for the physical hardware, but depending on your chipset and drivers, your PC might not enjoy this, or it might not recognize the device without appropriate commands. So don’t try it unless you know what you’re doing! I just took a risk and wanted to see what happens, because I don’t really need the laptop 😀

Erasing the contents of the HDD

I decided to connect the HDD to my main PC to erase it’s contents, so that it’s impossible for it to start running the Windows Defender check and the laptop might try using a secondary boot device (my USB). I used CCleaner to clean the drive. This took ~2 hours for a 750GB HDD.

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CCleaner cleaning the disk, in Finnish

 

It’s alive!

After the erasing process was complete, I moved the HDD back to laptop, put back the panels, screws and powered on the machine. No luck on the first try, because it tried to continue the loop. I removed the battery again and help down the power button, to do a BIOS reset.

Done! Windows 10 started installing.

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I made the installation media in Russian since, my wife will be using the laptop and it’s her native language 🙂

Thanks for reading and I hope someone will find this useful, because I didn’t find a single topic related to this problem, during my research.