Error “Something happened and your PIN isn’t available” in Diagnostic Startup

After enabling the Diagnostic Startup mode in the System Configuration Utility (msconfig.exe) and rebooting, you may be unable to sign in to your account using your PIN. And the following error appears on the sign-in screen:

Something happened and your PIN isn't available.

Click to set up your PIN again.

pin sign-in and diagnostic startup error

Also, as the option to sign in using the password (the “Sign-in options” link) is missing, you cannot log in to your user account.

Cause

The issue happens because the Diagnostic startup mode disables 200+ services. Selecting “Diagnostic Startup” in MSCONFIG and rebooting loads Windows with the bare minimum set of drivers and services. PIN sign-in requires a particular set of services to be enabled. As the services needed to process your PIN input are disabled, you get the above error.

The password sign-in option may not be available because your computer may have the following setting enabled.

pin sign-in and diagnostic startup error

For improved security, only allow Windows Hello sign-in for Microsoft accounts on this device

Note that the Windows 11 setup forces you to create a Microsoft Account and automatically enables the above Windows Hello sign-in option.

tips bulb iconIf you’re asked to boot into Diagnostic mode to solve a problem in the future, first disable the above Windows Hello sign-in option via Settings. That way, you can still log in to your account (in Diagnostic mode) using the password instead of the PIN.

Solution

To be able to log in to your account in Diagnostic startup mode, there are many ways. One of the methods is to boot into Windows Recovery Environment and edit the registry offline to disable the mandatory Windows Hello/PIN option. After doing so, you’ll be able to log in using the Microsoft Account (MSA) password.

Enable the Password sign-in option

In the Windows sign-in screen, click on the Power button, hold the Shift key and click Restart. The computer will now boot into the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE)

In Windows Recovery Environment, click Troubleshoot.

windows recovery options

Click Advanced Options.

Click Command Prompt.

Note: If Bitlocker is enabled on your drive, you’ll be asked to type the recovery key.

windows re bcdedit osdevice



In the Command Prompt window, type the following command:

bcdedit

Note down the drive letter for your Windows installation.

Hint: In the BCDEDIT command output, look for the boot loader entries containing the fields, namely, path (pointing to winload.exe) or osdevice or systemroot, and make a note of the drive letter, which in this case, is G:\

Then, type the following commands to enable the password sign-in option in the registry:

pin sign-in and diagnostic startup error - enable password signin registry

reg load HKLM\OffReg g:\windows\system32\config\SOFTWARE
reg add "HKLM\OffReg\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\PasswordLess\Device" /v DevicePasswordLessBuildVersion /d 0 /t REG_DWORD /f
reg unload HKLM\OffReg
exit

Exit Windows RE and continue to Windows.

Alternately, you can also start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) interactively, load the SOFTWARE hive and change the registry setting.

(Ref: DevicePasswordLessBuildVersion registry value.)

You can now see the password sign-in option by clicking on the “Sign-in options” link. Type in your Microsoft Account (MSA) password and log in to your account.

pin diagnostic startup error - password sign-in

Once logged in, load MSCONFIG and switch to Normal startup.


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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

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