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Vista Automatic Update stage 3 of 3 endless reboot loop

Vista Update

This evening I had the pleasure of spending precious (over)time on reclaiming my laptop from Microsoft instead of using it for some serious work. Yes, I might have been foolish in trusting Microsoft and leaving automatic updates ON because now I noticed what results this can have.

For those who didn't experience this Vista update bug (yet): you probably have seen messages like "don't turn off or unplug your pc. Windows is perfoming updates" when you shut down Windows. Well, this one appears at startup and it keeps restarting with the message "Configuring updates: Stage 3 of 3 - 0% complete. Do not turn off your computer".

Luckily I have a desktop pc running on trusty old Windows XP Professional, so I was able to lookup some info. Apparently I'm not the only Vista user being haunted by this "Update stage 3 of 3" virus...

I followed some of the advice online and this sequence worked (for my HP laptop) :

  • press F8 during startup
  • in the DOS menu, select REPAIR PC
  • some windows programs start up, there I selected "System Restore" to go back to an earlier update of the windows system. (in my case 2 days before)
  • I restarted and... it worked!
  • optional: as soon as my Vista restarted (without the 3 of 3) I turned OFF automatic updates (or at least i selected the option that the system will ASK me before installing anything on my pc)
Some people suggested the endless loop might have been caused by antivirus software keeping the update from installing correctly. Might be true, but tonight it looked for a while like Vista Update was a virus!

Anyway - I hope this short article will help you avoid this problem (or at least solve it more quickly).

And if the method I used didn't work for you, here's some potential other solutions on the Microsoft Technet site.