How to resolve the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED BSOD issue on Windows 10?

December 13, 2019 |

greater than 10 minutes

The sight of a blue screen can throw any Windows user into a fit of panic. A Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) error indicates that Windows has encountered a fatal error. Even if a user doesn’t know this fact, the appearance of a BSOD error is sure to spark a significant level of fear and concern, because, with blue screen errors, you can only regain access to your PC after the computer restarts.

Some blue screen errors are one-offs and might never occur again after a reboot. However, some BSODs occur over and over, and in most cases, they will deny you access to your system. STOP codes, as BSODs are alternatively called, have been around since Windows XP and still occur on Windows 10 PCs.

One scary blue screen error that is known to terrify Windows users is the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error. This BSOD comes with a STOP code value of 0x0000006F and usually occurs during or after an installation of Windows. Some users reported seeing the problem after upgrading their PCs to Windows 10, and in some cases, the blue screen came up when they were trying to start up their PCs.

If you’re one such frightened Windows 10 user, you don’t need to despair anymore, as this article is packed with fixes for the “SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED” error on Windows 10. They have helped other users resolve the problem for good. We’ll be explaining what the error is all about and what its root causes are in order to help you understand what you’re dealing with.

What Does the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED BSOD Error Mean on Windows 10?

“SESSION3 INITIALIZATION FAILED” is the message that shows up as part of the blue screen error. Beneath this particular blue screen, you’ll see the figure 0x0000006F. The error message points to an error with the Windows session manager. In this case, you’re dealing with a damaged file that is related to your operating system’s launch process.

So, if your screen is taken over by the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED blue screen, you have a faulty system file on your hands. The error occurs on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8. However, there are reported cases of the blue screen showing up on Windows 10 PCs as well, and the error means the same on every OS version.


The primary cause of the error is a faulty system file. That said, some underlying issues can cause the file to become corrupt. We’ll be explaining some of the root causes of the BSOD below so that you can easily pinpoint what the issue is with your computer and apply the appropriate fix.

Incorrect or interrupted Windows installation process

The BSOD often occurs during an installation of Windows or shortly after one. The error message is showing up in this case because the installation ended abruptly or didn’t go as it should, damaging a system file in the process. If you recently performed a major upgrade or fresh installation of any version of Windows, then this could be the issue.

Deleted system file

It could be that you deleted an important system file without knowing it. As we mentioned, the BSOD error is related to a system file. Primarily, this system file is the Smss.exe

file, which plays an important part in the Windows initialization process, but other files related to the startup process, such as ntoskrnl.exe and winlogon.exe, among others, might also be involved.

Antivirus program overreach

Antivirus programs are known to go overboard and block certain important, safe files, causing a lot of errors. This blue screen error is one of such cases. It could be that your antivirus application suspected a core system file of being a threat and blocked, quarantined, or deleted it as a result. Once this happens, you won’t be able to start up your system without encountering the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED blue screen error.

Badly damaged hard disk sector

Every file on your computer is saved on your hard disk, and if this component is bad, some files might be rendered unreadable. Another reason for the BSOD that is blocking access to your computer is a badly corrupted hard disk drive. Just as other users did, you can use a built-in Windows tool to make sure this error doesn’t repeat itself, and we’ll be showing you the process involved.

Bad DVD/DVD drive

If you’re experiencing this issue during installation, then you might be dealing with a bad installation DVD or DVD drive. This was the case for many users, and they were able to fix the error by troubleshooting these components.


Now that you know the possible causes of the BSOD error, it’s time to show you how to get rid of the issue. Many users have applied the fixes described in this article and reported great results. While the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error looks as dreadful as other blue screen errors, it’s not as challenging as most. This is why we’re confident that you’ll resolve the issue on your computer before you finish this article. Ensure you follow the fixes in the order that they’re arranged.

Before You Start, Create a Windows 10 Bootable Media

Since this blue screen error usually occurs during startup, you might be unable to boot into your computer normally. This means that you’ll have to use the Advanced Startup screen to be able to perform some of the fixes listed in this article. The Advanced Startup screen in Windows 10 is the main repair environment where you can troubleshoot and fix issues regarding BSODs, including the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error.

What’s more, you might need to replace certain files and perform repairs that require the use of a bootable media or installation DVD. If you don’t have an installation media, you can easily create one. The guide below will explain the steps involved in creating a bootable USB, which will go a long way in helping you get rid of the BSOD error:

Note that you need to make use of another PC if you can’t access your computer. Secondly, make sure you check whether you’re using a 64-bit or 32-bit operating system. And finally, ensure you have a USB device that has free storage space of up to 8GB or an empty DVD:

  1. Download the Media Creation Tool from the Microsoft website.
  2. Run the tool once you download it.
  3. When you get to the Terms and Conditions page, click on the Accept button.
  4. On the “What do you want to do?” page, choose the “Create installation media for another PC” option, and then click the Next button.
  5. Select the Windows edition you’re on, your preferred language, and your system’s architecture (32-bit or 64-bit).
  6. Next, choose between the USB flash drive and ISO file options.
  7. If you select the USB flash drive option, you have to insert a USB flash drive with at least 8GB of free storage space, select it on the next screen and click on the Next button to allow the Media Creation tool to complete the process. Selecting the ISO file option means you have to burn the file to a blank DVD once the tool downloads it.

That’s it; you have now created a bootable media that you can use to apply some of the fixes described in this article.

First Fix: Use the System File Checker Tool to Replace Corrupt or Missing System Files

As we mentioned, the primary reason for this particular BSOD is a missing system file that is associated with Windows startup. In this vein, fixing the issue requires replacing the faulty file. You can use the built-in command-line utility known as System File Checker to scan your computer for faulty files and automatically replace them.

Note that you’ll have to run another tool, known as the inbox Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM). This tool provides the files that the SFC utility will use to perform the repair.

It’ll be best to run the tool in Safe Mode, especially if you’re not able to access your PC. Follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold your PC’s power button to shut down your computer.
  2. Press the power button again to power on your PC, and once the logo of your computer’s manufacturer flashes on the screen and Windows starts to boot, force the PC to shut down again by pressing and holding the power button. Repeat these steps until you see the “Please wait” message under the Windows 10 logo.
  3. On the Automatic Repair screen, click on the Advanced Options button.
  4. On the Choose an Option screen, click on Troubleshoot.
  5. Now, click on Advanced Options under Troubleshoot and then click on Startup Settings once the Advanced Options screen opens.
  6. Click the Restart button on the Startup Settings screen, and when your system reboots to the Startup options page, hit the number beside Safe Mode or Safe Mode with networking (Since DISM might require an internet connection to download certain files).
  7. Once your PC boots into Safe Mode, open Run, using the Windows + R combo, type “CMD” (no quotes) into the text field, and then hit the CTRL, Shift, and Enter keys simultaneously. Click on the Yes button once the User Account Control dialog window shows up.
  8. Now, type the following lines and hit Enter to run DISM:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

Allow the command to execute successfully before moving on to the next step. If you’re not running Safe Mode with networking, you can insert your installation media or bootable USB and run this DISM command line instead:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:C:\RepairSource\Windows /LimitAccess

Important: make sure you insert the path of the installation media or bootable USB that you created in the C:\RepairSource\Windows

part of the command.

  1. Now, type the line below into the elevated Command Prompt window and hit the Enter key:

sfc /scannow

  1. The tool will now run a scan for corrupted system files on your computer and replace any faulty file that it detects.

If your PC can’t boot into Safe Mode, you can use the bootable media instead. Follow these steps:

  • Connect the bootable media you created earlier and restart your computer.
  • Once the Setup screen comes up, click on Next and choose the Repair your computer option.
  • Next, click on Troubleshoot under Choose an option.
  • Click on Advanced Options once you get to the Troubleshoot screen.
  • Under Advanced Options, select Command Prompt.
  • Once your PC restarts, select your user account, enter your sign-in credentials, and then click on Continue.
  • Type “sfc /scannow” (no quotes) into the Command Prompt window and hit the Enter key.
  • Reboot your computer normally if the command executes successfully.

Second Fix: Replace the SMSS.EXE File

The issue is usually related to the Windows Session Manager file, known as the Smss.exe file. Running SFC will likely replace this file if it’s faulty, but in case you still experience the error after running the tool, you can replace the file manually. To replace the file, follow the steps below:

  1. Insert your installation DVD, then press and hold your PC’s power button to shut down your computer.
  2. Tap your PC’s power button again to turn on your system, and once the logo of your computer’s manufacturer flashes on the screen and Windows starts to boot, force the PC to shut down again by pressing and holding the power button. Repeat these steps until you see the “Please wait” message under the Windows 10 logo.
  3. On the Automatic Repair screen, click on the Advanced Options button.
  4. Click on the Troubleshoot tile on the Choose an Option screen and then click on Advanced Options.
  5. Under Advanced Options, select Command Prompt.
  6. Once your PC restarts, select your user account, enter your sign-in credentials, and then click on Continue.
  7. Now, enter the following lines into the Command Prompt window and hit the Enter key after typing each one:


cd windows/system32/

copy c:\windows\system32\dllcache\smss.exe

  1. Once you are done, exit Command Prompt and reboot your PC.

Third Fix: Check Your Installation DVD or DVD Drive

If you’re encountering the error while installing Windows with an installation DVD, chances are Windows is having a hard time reading some necessary files because the drive or DVD is faulty. To troubleshoot the problem, try using another DVD to run or complete the installation, and if that doesn’t work out, try using an external DVD drive or consider replacing your drive.

Fourth Fix: Run the Chkdsk Tool

It could be that some sectors on your hard disk are problematic and have caused some system files to be unreadable. Some users found that running the Chkdsk utility had fixed the problem for them. We’ll show you how to run this tool through File Explorer if your computer boots up normally and using the advanced startup page if you can’t access your computer. Follow these steps:

  • Double-click any folder on your Desktop or use the Windows + E shortcut to launch a File Explorer window.
  • Click on This PC in the left pane of the File Explorer window.
  • Right-click on your main drive (usually drive C:) and then select Properties from the context menu.
  • Once the Properties dialog window appears, switch to the Tools tab.
  • Under Error Checking, click on the Check button and confirm any prompt that pops up.
  • The tool will now run and ask you to fix any error it finds once the check is over.

If your system doesn’t boot up normally, follow the steps below to run the CKDSK utility in Command Prompt via the Advanced Startup environment:

  • Press the power button and hold it to force your PC to shut down. Tap the power button to turn the computer on, and then force another shutdown once Windows begins to boot. Repeat these actions until the “Please wait” message appears on the screen under the Windows 10 logo.
  • On the Automatic Repair screen, click on the Advanced Options button.
  • Click on the Troubleshoot tile on the Choose an Option screen, and then click on Advanced Options.
  • Click on Command Prompt once you get to the Advanced Options screen.
  • Once your system restarts, choose your user account and enter your sign-in details if applicable.
  • Now, type the command line below into the Command Prompt window and hit Enter:

chkdsk /r c:

Replace the letter “c” with the letter assigned to the disk you wish to check with the utility.

  • Now, restart your PC normally and check if the problem is resolved.


We’re confident that by now, you have fixed the error and that you are now using your system comfortably. To avoid this kind of issue in the future, check the logs of your antivirus to confirm whether it deleted a system file, and if it did, consider replacing it. You can also make sure your system is in tip-top shape by installing Auslogics BoostSpeed to regularly rid your computer of junk files and bad registry keys.

If you have any suggestions or thoughts on the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED BSOD error, use the comments section below!

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