Are you getting this error message when you try to start up Windows:
We apologize for the inconvenience, but Windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this.
If so, your Windows system files are probably corrupt or there is something wrong with your hard drive (bad sectors, etc.) Luckily, it’s usually an error that can be fixed without having to reinstall the Windows operating system!
I’ve seen this error several times in the last couple of years working as in IT support and each time it was fixed in a different way. Here are some steps you can take to try and fix the problem.
Method 1 – Repair Windows via Recovery Console by running CHKDSK
My first suggestion would be to restart your computer into the Recovery Console mode and run CHKDSK with the repair option to make sure there are no errors on your hard disk.
In order to get into the Recovery Console in Windows XP, you need to put in your Windows installation CD and press any key when it says boot from CD.
Now in the XP Professional Setup screen, press R to choose the Repair a Windows XP installation using the Recovery Console option.
Now you need to choose the installation that you want to run the recovery console too on, usually you can just type 1. Enter the password for the local Administrator account on the computer and press Enter.
Now go ahead and type in the command CHKDSK /r at the command prompt to run the disk check:
Method 2 – Do a Repair installation of Windows
In Method 1, we ran CHKDSK through the Recovery Console to try and repair any errors that may have been on the hard disk. In Method 2, we will do a repair installation of Windows, which basically replaces all of your system files without deleting any of your data. The OS is reinstalled, but all data is left intact.
After doing a repair install, you will have to reapply all Windows Updates. For this, you would put in your XP CD like before, boot to it by pressing a key when you see Press any key to boot from CD.
From the menu of options above, press Enter instead of pressing R. This is a little counter-intuitive, but you have to choose the option to setup Windows XP.
Press F8 to accept the license agreement and then press R to choose the Repair the selected Windows XP installation option.
Note that it will look like Windows is reinstalling the operating system fresh, but it is not! It’s just replacing all of the Windows system files, so your data will not be lost.
Always make sure that you are using the same XP CD that came with computer originally or the repair may fail in the middle! Allow the install to complete and then restart your computer and see if you can log on. Your desktop settings may be back to their defaults because of the repair.
Method 3 – Use Last Known Good Configuration option
A final thing you can try is to press F8 when the computer is starting to boot up and choose Last Known Good Configuration from the Windows XP Advanced Options menu:
Those are basically your three options for the “Windows did not start successfully error”. Last resort would be to simply reinstall Windows, but that means you lose your data. You can also try to log into safe mode and if you can, that means you can try to do a system restore by going to the command prompt and typing in the following command:
Now follow the instructions on to choose an earlier state to restore your computer back to. Hope that helps someone fix their problems!