What Is a Bootloop? How Do They Start & Can You Fix It?
We’re on our computers and smartphones pretty much daily, unless we’re on a fun mountain getaway and don’t have service or a stable internet connection. And most of the time, our computers and smartphones work perfectly.
Sure, our devices get laggy over time and start to lose battery life sooner, but for the most part, they hold up. However, some technical issues, like a bootloop, often signify the end of your device’s life or, at the very least, a critical error.
But what exactly is a bootloop? How does your device go from perfectly fine to stuck in a bootloop? And can you fix it?
What Is a Bootloop?
In the simplest explanation, a bootloop describes when your computer or smartphone is stuck in a loop of rebooting. The term “bootloop” is just a more common way of saying “reboot loop.”
When you restart your computer or smartphone, they both have a series of tasks that need to be completed to turn on and function completely. So while all you see on your smartphone’s screen is your cellphone provider’s logo or your phone’s logo, a lot is happening under the surface. The same goes for a computer.
In a perfect scenario, your device completes all its necessary tasks, everything fires up correctly, and your device starts with no issue. But sometimes, there’s a critical error within that startup process that stumps your phone.
Consider this. When your smartphone or laptop is acting up, what do you do? If there’s no clear indicator on what’s wrong, you typically restart your device, and typically the issue is fixed by this simple restart.
When your device gets stuck in a bootloop, it’s your device’s way of trying to “turn it off and on again” to fix the issue. But, of course, because there’s an issue in the booting process, it keeps running into that error over and over again.
But what actually causes a bootloop to start?
How Does a Bootloop Start?
There are a few different reasons a bootloop can start, but they all usually involve some sort of change to your system prior to a reboot cycle.
Most issues are software-related, having to do with a system update gone wrong, a new driver or program that doesn’t mesh, or malware that made its way onto your device between restart cycles.
But sometimes, a bootloop may start because of underlying hardware issues with your smartphone or laptop. Sure, the last firmware update might have been the final nail in the coffin for your device, but it could’ve been because your device’s hardware was fatally corrupted without you knowing. And because there wasn’t a system update to force a reboot on your smartphone, the issue went undetected.
Is It Possible to Fix a Bootloop?
Whether or not a bootloop is fixable depends a lot on what caused your device to enter a bootloop in the first place.
If the bootloop started because of a flaw in your hardware, it’s often fatal for your smartphone or computer. On the other hand, if the bootloop started because of a recent firmware update, it’s usually fixable.
Fixing a Bootloop on Windows
With Windows, bootloops are often repaired without any assistance from you, using Microsoft’s Automatic Repair feature. If this doesn’t happen, though, you’ll have to intervene manually.
You can try a hard reboot first (make sure all your peripherals are disconnected first!), which simply means you hold your system’s power button for about five seconds, wait 30 seconds, and then press the power button to restart your PC. It should start normally now, but if it doesn’t, that means you’ll have to go into Windows Safe Mode to fix the issue.
If your Windows PC isn’t booting normally, here’s how to enter Safe Mode:
- After your device has been completely turned off, press the power button to turn it on.
- As soon as you see something pop up on the screen (usually the Windows logo or the manufacturer’s logo), hold the power button for about ten seconds to turn off your device.
- Repeat this process two more times until you have turned your device off and on a total of three times.
- For the fourth time, turn on your PC, and you should see the words “Preparing Automatic Repair” at the bottom of your screen. Allow your device to go through this process, and you should eventually see a screen titled “Choose an option.”
- From here, select Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options.
You can use any of these options to help your PC boot correctly, but the most common option for novice technology users is System Restore. This will revert your device to a previous point recorded on your PC and hopefully restore Windows.
Fixing a Bootloop on an Android Smartphone
Fixing a bootloop on a smartphone is trickier but not impossible.
You can, of course, try to leave it off for a long period, like 30 minutes or an hour, and then restart it. But if your phone still doesn’t start up like normal, you’ll have to start troubleshooting.
First, try forcing your phone into its Recovery mode by holding down the power button and volume down button simultaneously. From here, you may be able to roll your phone back or restore a previous backup. However, this often results in data loss, which isn’t ideal, so you might have to weigh up your options.
If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to enter your smartphone’s Safe Mode. When your phone is booting, and you see the manufacturer’s name appear, press and hold the volume down button to put your device into Safe Mode. Here, you can follow prompts to hopefully remove whatever program, app, or software updates forced your phone into a bootloop.
Fixing a Bootloop on an iPhone
The first troubleshooting option with an iPhone is to force restart it.
- To force restart newer iPhones, quickly press the Volume Up button, then press the Volume Down button, then press and hold the Power button.
- To force restart older iPhones, press and hold the Volume Down and Sleep/Wake button simultaneously until you see the Apple logo.
If that doesn’t work, you can also attempt to restore your iPhone using a previous backup through iTunes. Note that this method will overwrite your device’s existing data with whatever data was saved in the backup.
You’ll need to connect your phone to your computer, open iTunes, and click on the device icon to pull up your iPhone’s information. From here, you should see an option that reads Restore Backup.
Through iTunes on your computer, you can also check to see if there’s a new software update for your iPhone. Sometimes the latest software update will include bug fixes that can hopefully solve whatever issue caused your iPhone to enter a bootloop in the first place.
Bootloops Are One of the Worst Errors
Encountering a bootloop on your smartphone or computer is an easy way to ruin your day. Your device can troubleshoot minor errors by itself, but when major errors pop up in your system, it goes into shock and displays the dreaded bootloop.
Luckily, sometimes it’s fixable. And with how vast the internet is now, there’s a ton of useful information all over the place on how to fix bootloops, blue screens, and plenty of other errors you might encounter on either your smartphone or laptop. So your broken device hopefully won’t stay broken for long.
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