Windows 10 Update Restore Recovery Failure – Beware the Anniversary Update!

Starting in late August Microsoft began releasing new devices with what is known as the Windows 10 Anniversary Update that includes a bunch of updates including security, performance enhancements and new features. We found out there are risks to this update and we felt compelled to share our experience. While the updates continue to roll out at the end of September to existing Windows 10 machines our word to user is to prepare AND beware.

Windows Recovery Circle of Death Circle

Typically, a Windows Update is fairly routine. It schedules and it updates your machine and typically reboots the device as well and you don’t even realize what happened. Since you don’t have the typical option to defer or ask for updates before installing, this update cause a major failure in the update process, creating multiple boot sectors and ultimately causing our Surface machines to go into a death loop of no return.

The Death Recovery Loop

If you have seen this screen, it might already be too late! Here’s what might have happened. Your device was told to download and install the latest Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. It downloaded. It failed installing. It attempted to recover multiple times. It creates a recover partition. The partition with the recovery cannot function nor restore, and Windows 10 cannot roll back.

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Windows 10 sign  and Attempting  to recover installation
Windows  10 logo restoring your previous  version of windows
Followed by an endless loop of the same thing (will go on for days if you let it)

Backups and Restores Don’t Work

If you’re a person who prepares, perhaps you create restore points or complete image backups on a USB drive. Well folks, these don’t work either in this situation. It seems when Windows 10 goes into recovery mode, it creates a recovery partition and the recovery utilities don’t work. A look at the hard disk shows it still has its system and recovery partitions, but Windows Recovery can’t run them. Sure, pressing the Power and the Vol Down button gets to the boot sectors, it doesn’t do much else.

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The Windows 10 Anniversary Update fails and tries to recover rendering ALL of the utilities useless. It’s a total disk rewrite.

Here’s a post from another Windows 10 User:

  • After installing Win 10 32bit it was working fine until updates were unblocked.
  • After updates were run the laptop would not reboot – the bootloader could not load.
  • Tried using the Windows 10 recovery media on USB. The following fixes using that did not work: Refresh your PC, Reset your PC, Open a System Restore point (there was a restore point made), Start-up repair, Go back to previous build. Clean Installation fails (it won’t format any partitions), Upgrade installation fails.
  • Despite this, all files are still visible on the computer using the command prompt.
  • Chkdsk /f /r shows up a (696e647863686b2e 1324) error.
  • BCDedit fixes haven’t worked.
  • Startup repair fails saying it’s the wrong OS, even though it’s the same version.
  • I’ve downloaded the Win 10 recovery media twice and tried a Win 8 recovery USB – same results.
  • It looks like the bootloader is corrupted but the normal fixes aren’t working. Has Windows 10 killed my laptop?

A Microsoft User replied:

  • I know this issue seems huge and like you’re going to loose everything but its not and you wont
  • Start your pc and use the F11 to boot into recovery mode.
  • Next select Advanced and then Command prompt. From here run chkdsk c: /r /x and watch the magic work. If
  • chkdsk only scans you will need to run sfc /scannow and reboot. Problem solved! Windows cannot repair its self because the boot parameter is corrupt and no recovery will fix it for some reason but the tools you need are all already there. Don’t be fooled into thinking a complete system restore is needed.

While this solution might work for some, it didn’t work for us.

When we took the Surface to the Microsoft Store, the only option was a full tech reinstall of the new Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. You lose all your data, and you lose all your apps.

After about two hours at the Microsoft store, we had a fresh install of Windows 10 Anniversary but without our apps and our C: Drive data. Backups were no good, restore points no good.

Conclusion:

A few things we’ve learned:

  • Store ALL your files on a shared card drive or via the cloud
  • Know if your system is 32 or 64 bit
  • Keep installs of your downloaded apps on a separate drive or device as well
  • Keep a Windows 10 Media Creation Tool  on a USB flash drive and store your backups on that device as well.
  • Here’s a good Windows 10 forum to check out as well – Click Here

We’re fully aware that “stuff happens” and there are probably lots of things that can cause a device failure. But let’s be clear here….this one’s on Microsoft!

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