Full Fix: SESSION3 INITIALIZATION FAILED error in Windows 10

Milan Stanojevic avatar. By: Milan Stanojevic
7 minute read

Home » Windows » Full Fix: SESSION3 INITIALIZATION FAILED error in Windows 10

Blue Screen of Death errors will crash Windows 10 and give you an error message such as SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED before your computer restarts. These types of errors can be caused by faulty hardware, and since these errors can be rather problematic, today we’re going to show you how to fix SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error.


Table of contents:

  1. Update Windows 10
  2. Run chkdsk scan
  3. Update your drivers
  4. Run the BSOD Troubleshooter
  5. Run the SFC scan
  6. Run DISM
  7. Replace smss.exe
  8. Check your DVD for physical damage
  9. Check your DVD drive
  10. Check for hardware problems


Solution 1 – Update Windows 10

Updating Windows 10 is crucial if you want to keep your system error-free and stable. Certain hardware or software might have issues with Windows 10, and that can cause BSoD errors such as SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED to appear. By using Windows Update you’ll download the latest security improvements as well as many bug fixes. These bug fixes are designed to fix incompatibility issues with certain hardware or software, therefore it’s crucial to download Windows updates in order to prevent BSoD errors from appearing.

Solution 2 – Run chkdsk scan

Sometimes BSoD errors like SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED can appear due to corrupted files on your hard drive, and in order to fix this problem you’ll need to check your hard drive by using chkdsk command. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Power User Menu and select Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. When Command Prompt starts, enter chkdsk /f /r C: and press Enter to run it. Bear in mind that you’ll have to perform this scan for all hard drive partitions that you have, so be sure to replace C with the letter that matches your hard drive partition.

It’s worth mentioning that you won’t be able to scan C drive right from Windows 10, so be sure to restart your computer when the Command Prompt tells you to. When your computer starts again, the chkdsk will automatically scan your C drive for errors.

If you cannot access Windows 10 due to SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error, you can perform the chkdsk scan by following these steps:

  1. Restart your computer while it boots. You’ll have to restart it several times before you can start Automatic Repair.
  2. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt.
  3. When Command Prompt starts enter chkdsk /f /r C: to perform a scan. Repeat this step for all hard drive partitions and be sure to replace C with the appropriate letter.

Solution 3 – Update your drivers

Drivers are crucial part of every operating system since they allow Windows to recognize and utilize your hardware. If certain driver is corrupted or incompatible with Windows 10 that can cause a BSoD error such as SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED. In order to fix these errors, it’s advised to update your drivers, and you can do that right from Device Manager by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + X and select Device Manager from the menu.
  2. When Device Manager opens, locate the driver you wish to update, right click it and choose Update Driver Software.
  3. Select Search automatically for updated driver software. Windows 10 will now download and install the best driver for your device.
  4. Repeat these steps for all drivers that you want to update.

Some users say that it’s better to download the drivers manually since Device Manager won’t always find the latest drivers for your hardware. To download drivers manually, you just have to visit your hardware manufacturer’s website, find your device and download the latest drivers for it. Be sure to download and update drivers for all major hardware components.

Update drivers automatically

Searching for drivers on your own can be time-consuming. So, we advise you to use a tool that will do this for you automatically. Using an automatic driver updater will certainly save you from the hassle of searching for drivers manually, and it will always keep your system up to date with the latest drivers.

Tweakbit’s Driver Updater (approved by Microsoft and Norton Antivirus) will help you update drivers automatically and prevent PC damage caused by installing the wrong driver versions. After several tests, our team concluded that this is the best-automatized solution.

Here is a quick guide on how to use it:

  1. Download and install TweakBit Driver Updaterdriver updater starting window
  2. Once installed, the program will start scanning your PC for outdated drivers automatically. Driver Updater will check your installed driver versions against its cloud database of the latest versions and recommend proper updates. All you need to do is wait for the scan to complete.
    scanning proccess of Tweakbit driver updater
  3. Upon scan completion, you get a report on all problem drivers found on your PC. Review the list and see if you want to update each driver individually or all at once. To update one driver at a time, click the ‘Update driver’ link next to the driver name. Or simply click the ‘Update all’ button at the bottom to automatically install all recommended updates.
    Automatically Update complete
    Note: Some drivers need to be installed in multiple steps so you will have to hit the ‘Update’ button several times until all of its components are installed.

Solution 4 – Run the BSOD Troubleshooter 

If none of the previous solutions resolved the issues, let’s try with Windows 10’s built-in troubleshooter. This tool can address various system issues, including the BSOD problems.

Here’s how to run Windows 10’s built-in troubleshooter:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to Update & Security section.
  2. Select Troubleshoot from the menu on the left.
  3. Select BSOD from the right pane and click Run the troubleshooter.SESSION3 INITIALIZATION FAILED Windows 10 error
  4. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the troubleshooter.

Solution 5 – Run the SFC scan

The next thing we’re going to try is running the SFC scan. The System File Checker is a command-line tool that scans all the system files for potential issues. So, if a corrupt system file is the cause of the SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error, the SFC scan will likely resolve it.

Here’s how to run the SFC scan in Windows 10:

  1. Go to Search, type cmd, and open the Command Prompt as Administrator.
  2. Enter the following line and press Enter: sfc/scannowSESSION3 INITIALIZATION FAILED Windows 10 error
  3. Wait for the scan to complete (it will take a while)
  4. The tool will automatically resolve the problem, if possible.
  5. Now, close the Command Prompt and restart your computer.

Solution 6 – Run DISM

The third troubleshooting tool we’re going to use here is DISM. Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM), as its name says, re-deploys the system image all over again, and resolves potential issues along the way. So, it’s also possible it will resolve the  SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error.

We’ll walk you through both standard and the procedure that utilizes the installation media below:

  • Standard way
  1. Right-click Start and open Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. Paste the following command and press Enter:
      • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealthSESSION3 INITIALIZATION FAILED Windows 10 error
  3. Wait until the scan is finished.
  4. Restart your computer and try updating again.
  • With the Windows installation media
  1. Insert your Windows installation media.
  2. Right-click the Start menu and, from the menu, choose the Command Prompt (Admin).
  3. In the command line, type the following commands and press Enter after each:
    • dism /online /cleanup-image /scanhealth
    • dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth
  4. Now, type the following command and press Enter:
    • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /source:WIM:X:SourcesInstall.wim:1 /LimitAccess
  5. Make sure to change an X value with the letter of the mounted drive with Windows 10 installation.
  6. After the procedure is finished, restart your computer.

Solution 7 – Replace smss.exe

According to users, corrupt smss.exe file can sometimes cause SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED BSoD error, and in order to fix it, you need to replace that file. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Restart your computer few times while it boots. This should start Automatic Repair.
  2. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.
  3. When Command Prompt starts, enter the following lines and press Enter after each line:
    • C:
    • cd windows/system32/ 
    • copy c:\windows\system32\dllcache\smss.exe
  4. Alternatively, you can use copy c:\windows\ServicePackFiles\i386\smss.exe instead of last line.
  5. Enter exit into Command Prompt to close it and restart your PC.

Solution 8 – Check your DVD for physical damage

Users reported SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error while trying to install Windows 10 from a DVD, and according to them, the problem was damaged DVD disc. If you’re installing Windows 10 from a DVD, be sure that your DVD doesn’t have any scratches on it.

Instead of using DVD, it’s always better to use a USB flash drive to install Windows 10. You can easily create bootable USB drive with Windows 10 on it by using Media Creation Tool. Bear in mind that you can get the same error even if you’re using a USB flash drive to install Windows 10. Apparently corrupt ISO image can create this problem, so be sure that you don’t interrupt Windows 10 ISO download.

Solution 9 – Check your DVD drive

If you’re installing Windows 10 from a DVD, be sure that your DVD drive is working correctly. Users reported that faulty DVD drive can prevent installation process and give you SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED BSoD, so be sure that your DVD drive isn’t faulty. In case your DVD drive is broken, you can always install Windows 10 from a USB flash drive.

Solution 10 – Check for hardware problems

SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED BSoD error can be caused by a faulty hardware, most notably RAM, so be sure that your RAM is working properly. To check your RAM you can use tools such as MemTest86+. In addition to RAM, almost any other hardware component can cause this error, so be sure to check other major components such as your motherboard, hard drive, graphic card, etc.

If you’re still having issues with your hardware after a quick inspection, we strongly recommend you to download this tool (100% safe and tested by us) to fix various PC problems, such as hardware failure, but also file loss and malware.

SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED error can be caused by corrupted files or hardware problems, but you can easily fix this error by using one of our solutions.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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