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Issue #734: August 15-21, 2021

Q: I have a homemade desktop with an AMD FX-4130 Quad core processor @ 3.80 GHz, 64-bit Win 10 Pro, 8 GB RAM, 240 GB SSD. My problem is that when I power on or wake up the unit, I usually get a message indicating “Preparing Automatic Repair’ which results in a blue screen indicating I have an error such as 0xc0000428, 221, or 098. If I reboot (up to 4+ times) or power off I eventually successfully boot up. I was told this indicates a pending hard drive failure and replaced the internal SSD hard drive and reloaded Win 10 Pro. Problem seemed to be resolved briefly, then reoccurred. Once the computer completes the POST and boots to Windows successfully everything seems to work ok. The error messages and subsequent rebooting is frustrating, to say the least, but I really don’t want to try to go into modifying part of the start up instructions as proposed by some on line search suggestions. Where do I go next?

– Thomas L.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: I am so glad that you included those error codes, Thomas!  I wish more people would include such information in their questions, as it makes my job of diagnosing issues without ever laying eyes on the actual system just a little bit easier.  These codes, known as bug check errors, accompany most blue screen of death (BSOD) errors.  Just to be clear, the BSODs are not the “result” of whatever the system is doing when it says “Preparing Automatic Repair.”  Presumably if the repair process had no problems, it would succeed, fix the problem, and your PC would boot cleanly.  However, something is occurring, or failing to occur during the repair process, and that’s causing the errors. 

So, let’s start with the definition of each of the three bug check errors that you provided.  The literal translation of 0xc0000428 is “STATUS_INVALID_IMAGE HASH”.  That probably doesn’t mean anything to most people.  However, I can tell you that in the context of your BSOD, the meaning is closer to “this file is corrupt or invalid.”  As one might presume, “this file” is referring to a specific file, and the file name should have been shown on the BSOD along with the bug check code.  Next time the error happens, take note of the filename and location.  You might be able to use it as the starting point for fixing the error.

Bug check 0xc0000211 translates to “STATUS_TRANSACTION_TIMED_OUT”.  You can probably glean from that translation that the system was trying to do something and decided that it had waited too long for it to complete, so it aborted the attempt.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the first error is the cause of the second error.

The translation of 0xc0000098 is simply “STATUS_FILE_INVALID”.  If there was any doubt in your mind up to this point that there is an issue with a file that the system is trying to use, and that this is probably the underlying problem with your system, then this ought to clinch it. 

I read nothing in the details of your question that would lead me to believe there was ever anything wrong with your hard drive.  If there was actually a problem, I would have expected it to manifest in other ways – especially when the drive in question is a solid-state drive (SSD).  So, I hope you were able to make use of that SSD somewhere else, so the cost didn’t go to waste.

About all that I can offer you by way of advice is that the thing most likely to have caused the overall problem you’re experiencing is a failed update of some sort, most likely a Windows update.  It appears that a file is corrupted, and as a result, the process fails every time it tries to run.  It’s interesting to me that the problem seems to resolve after repeated attempts to boot.  I hope for your sanity’s sake that examining the name of the problematic file from the first bug check error will provide some clue.  Beyond that, I’d recommend you look into Windows Update for anything that is pending or has retried multiple times.  It’s probably going to require some manual intervention to remove the corruption.

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