How to End an Endless Desktop Reboot Cycle

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Stop Computer Reboots at Desktop Loading

Before you can actually diagnose the cause of your computer rebooting at the desktop loading screen, you must first stop the reboot process. Please note that the reboot cycle will continue as soon as you restart your computer for any reason. If you have Windows XP or Windows Vista, immediately access “Run” from the “Start” menu and type “shutdown –a” and press “Enter.” This will temporarily stop the reboot process.

If your computer reboots at desktop loading due to a virus, you may have to run “shutdown –a” every fifteen to thirty minutes to stop random reboots. Viruses often have reboot cycles that allow your desktop to boot up for up to thirty minutes before it reboots.

If you cannot access “Run” or a command prompt, you may be able to stop the reboot cycle by starting your desktop in Safe Mode or a Repair Mode, depending on your operating system. During your desktop’s boot process, look for the key or key combination used to access your computer’s boot options. In most cases, the key is either a function key such as F8 or F12 or your Esc or Del key.

Choose “Safe Mode” first to see if the reboot cycle continues. If so, look for a “Repair” or “Repair Mode” option. This option is not available on all systems and may require your operating system disk in order to run correctly.

Windows Updates and Service Packs

Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista SP1 were famous for causing computers to reboot at desktop loading screens. The easiest solution for this problem is to download the latest Windows Updates for your system. Microsoft addressed the reboot problem shortly after the service packs were released. Not all users experienced the problem, but many did.

If you cannot boot into Safe Mode to download the latest updates, you may need to repair your system using your original installation disk. Insert your Windows operating system disk into your disk drive during the boot process. Boot from the CD when prompted. If you are not prompted, press “F12” to view boot options. Select “CD-ROM” from the options screen.

Press “Enter” when the first set of options appears. Do not choose to repair your system at this point. Press “F8” to agree to the EULA, or user agreement. Press “R” when the next screen appears to repair your operating system. The system files that were changed or added during the faulty updates will be deleted. No other files are deleted during this process.

Once your computer restarts, follow the prompts in the GUI screen to set up options such as region, time zone and network settings. As this is a repair and not an installation, accept the defaults by pressing “Next” on each screen. Once the repair is complete, you will arrive back at your desktop screen. You may be prompted to enter your product key, which can be found on your disk’s packaging.

Disable Windows Automatic Updates by going to “Start,” “Control Panel” and selecting “Automatic Updates.” Choose “Notify me but don’t download or install them.” You can manually download updates, but most users forget to do so without the notification. You can also download updates by visiting Microsoft Update or Windows Update. Choose the “Custom” option to prevent downloading faulty updates. Uncheck the boxes beside updates, such as Windows XP SP3 or Windows Vista SP1, before downloading and installing updates.


Viruses can be tricky to fix. Many disable your anti-virus. To prevent further infection or damage, download the latest version of your anti-virus or an alternate free anti-virus such as AVG Free or Avast Free Home Edition from another computer. If you cannot use another computer, boot your computer into Safe Mode with Networking. This will limit the damage the virus can do. AVG Free and Avast Free Home Edition can be downloaded at FreeNew. Note that this is one of the few places you can download the complete installer file for AVG Free. Other sites download a small file that initiates an almost 80 MB download during the installation process.

If your anti-virus isn’t disabled, run a full system scan. If your anti-virus cannot remove the threat, visit your anti-virus’s website and search for the name of the virus. Full details on removal, including any special programs you need, will be listed. Symantec is a great site for finding removal instructions for specific viruses.

As a last resort, you may need to format your desktop in order to completely remove the problem. Though your anti-virus software may remove the virus, it may not remove all traces of the virus. Running a certain application or visiting a specific website may cause the virus to restart your computer reboots as the desktop loads. Boot into Safe Mode, or follow the steps in the “Stop Computer Reboots at Desktop Loading” section to stop the cycle temporarily while you back up any important files.