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Error: We apologize for the inconvenience but Windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this.

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This document pertains to HP and Compaq Desktop computers with Windows XP.
The following error displays when starting the computer with Windows XP: We apologize for the inconvenience but Windows was unable to start successfully
The computer may continually restart after displaying this message. This issue can be caused by a recent hardware or software change.

Step 1: Removing recently added hardware

Use the steps in this section to disconnect any recently added hardware and test for the error.
NOTE:If a new internal device (sound card, hard drive, or other) was added to the computer before the error message started to occur, you have to remove it before continuing.
  1. Turn off the PC and unplug the power cord.
  2. Disconnect the mouse, and any other peripherals attached (Printer, scanner, webcam, zip drive, phone cord, network cable and other devices). Leave only the keyboard and monitor cable attached.
  3. Press and hold the power button on the front of the PC. Release after 10 seconds.
  4. Plug the power cord back in.
  5. Turn on the computer.
  6. The computer displays the We apologize for the inconvenience... message. Allow the timer to count down from 30 to 0.
  7. If the computer successfully starts to the Windows desktop and does not restart to the error message, connect one device and wait until Windows recognizes it.
  8. To find if a device is causing the error, continue connecting the devices, one at a time, restarting the computer each time, until the device that is causing the error is found.
NOTE:Be sure to wait until Windows completely starts before reconnecting devices. Check with the device vendor technical support for known issues, resolutions, updated drivers and troubleshooting information for the device.

Step 2: Restoring with System Restore

Use the steps in this section to restore Windows XP to an earlier time:
  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Remove all attached devices except for the mouse, keyboard and monitor.
  3. Turn on the computer.
  4. When the We apologize for the inconvenience... message appears, use the UP or DOWN arrow key until Safe Mode with Command Prompt is highlighted and press Enter.
    NOTE:If the computer stops responding or restarts automatically, skip to Step 6 to restart from the last known good configuration.
  5. When the logon screen appears, select Administrator and enter the password (if applicable).
  6. When the command window appears, type: cd \windows\system32\restore and press Enter.
  7. Type: rstrui and press Enter. The System Restore screen will appear.
  8. On the Welcome to System Restore window, select Restore my computer to an earlier time, then click Next.
  9. On the Select a Restore Point window, select a date that is highlighted in bold print from the calendar.
  10. Select a restore point from the window labeled, On this list, click a restore point and click Next.
    Figure 1: Selecting a restore point
  11. If a message about closing programs appears, click OK. A Confirm Restore Point Selection window appears.
  12. Click Next.
  13. The PC should shut down and turn on automatically after the restoration completes and a Restoration Complete window should appear. If the PC stops responding, restarts automatically, or the error message reappears, skip to Step 6 to restart from the last known good configuration..
  14. Click OK.
  15. Restart the computer.
If the We apologize for the inconvenience... message reappears, continue with Step 3 to disable startup items that might be contributing to the problem.
If the error message does not reappear, you are done.

Step 3: Disabling startup items to start Windows

CAUTION:The steps in this section are used to prevent all startup items from opening including antivirus software and other software that may provide important functions. Use these steps only for troubleshooting purposes:
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. At the first screen, press the F8 key repeatedly until the Windows Advanced Options Menu or the We apologize for the inconvenience... message appears.
  3. Press the UP or DOWN Arrow keys until Safe Mode is highlighted. Press Enter to select it.
  4. Select Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, or Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition.
  5. When the logon screen appears, select Administrator and enter the password (if applicable).
  6. Select Yes when the Windows is running in safe mode message appears.
  7. Click Start, and then click Run.
  8. Type the following into the Open field: msconfig
  9. Click OK.
  10. When the System Configuration Utility window appears, remove the checkmark next to Load Startup Items.
  11. Click OK.
  12. Select Restart on the message that appears.
If Windows does not load successfully after using the System Configuration Utility, skip to step 6 to restart from the last known good configuration..

Step 4: Finding the startup item that is causing the error

After the computer has been restarted, a message about using Msconfig should appear.
NOTE:If Windows or other software stops working during or after this step, restart the computer, press the F8 key repeatedly at the first screen to get to Windows Advanced Options Menu. Select Safe Mode and use this section again to remove the checkmarks that were added.
  1. Click OK to open the System Configuration Utility window.
  2. Click the Startup tab, and place a checkmark next to one of the items in the list.
  3. When finished, click OK.
  4. Restart the computer.
  5. If Windows loads successfully, click OK on the System Configuration Utility message to re-open it.
  6. Click the Startup tab again, and place a checkmark next to another item in the list and click OK.
  7. Select Restart.
  8. Repeat steps 5 to 7 in this section until all of the items are checked or until the error appears again. If the We apologize for the inconvenience... message reappears:
    1. Select Safe mode.
    2. Log in as Administrator.
    3. Select Yes on the Windows is running in safe mode message
    4. Click Start and then click Run.
    5. In the open field, type: msconfig
    6. Select the Startup tab, and uncheck the item that was most recently checked.
    7. Click OK and select Restart.
NOTE:To prevent the pop-up message about having used Msconfig from appearing again, place a checkmark next to Do not show this message or launch the System Configuration Utility when Windows starts, and then click OK.
If an application is identified as causing the computer to restart, continue with Step 5 to remove software that may be causing the problem.

Step 5: Removing software associated with the problem

You should now have a list of software programs that are preventing the computer from loading Windows properly. Follow the steps in this section to remove these programs.
NOTE:If you want to find out what a software task is, refer to the HP support document: Preventing Programs from Opening When Windows Starts in Windows XP .
  1. Click Start, then Control Panel.
  2. Click Add or Remove Programs.
  3. Select the program identified as the startup item causing the problem, then click the Change/Remove button.
  4. Follow the prompts to remove the program.
  5. Restart the computer.
  6. Before reinstalling the program, check with the software vendor’s support for any available updates or applicable fixes.
If the software has been removed and the error does not reappear after restarting the computer, you are done.
If the We apologize for the inconvenience... message reappears, continue with Step 6 to restart from the last known good configuration..

Step 6: Restarting from the last known good configuration

The Last Known Good Configuration feature provides a way to recover from configuration problems such as newly installed drivers that may be incorrect for the computer hardware configuration. It does not correct problems that are caused by missing or corrupted drivers or files.
If the computer is not at the Windows Advanced Options Menu, or the We apologize for the inconvenience... screen, use the steps in this section to restart Windows XP from a system restore point that was last known to work:
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. At the first screen, press the F8 key repeatedly until Windows Advanced Options Menu appears.
  3. Use the UP or DOWN ARROW keys to select Last known good configuration.
  4. Press Enter to start Windows XP.
If Windows still does not start normally, continue to Step 7 .
If the error does not return, you are done.

Step 7: Renaming the Catroot2 folder

Use the steps in this section to replace the Catroot2 folder:
  1. Turn on the PC and press the F10 repeatedly at the first screen to start the recovery screens. If the recovery application doesn’t start, you can run the recovery from the Recovery CD or DVD discs. For more information, see Performing an HP System Recovery in Windows XP .
  2. If you see a welcome screen, click OK.
  3. Click Advanced Options and then press the Alt and D keys at the same time to go to a command prompt.
  4. Type: diskpart, and then press Enter.
  5. At the diskpart> prompt, type: list volume, and then press Enter.
  6. A screen similar to the figure below should appear outlining the current drive letters in the system. Note the drive letter in the Ltr column next to the HP_PAVILION, or PRESARIO NTFS partition. You will need this drive letter to complete this process.
    Figure 2: List Volume display
  7. At the prompt, type: exit, and then press Enter.
  8. Type in the drive letter you recorded in step 6 , followed by a colon, ‘:’ (without the quotes) and press Enter. (For example, C: PRESARIO or H: HP_PAVILION )
  9. Type the following: cd \windows\system32
  10. At the new prompt, type the following: rd /s catroot2
  11. Type Y to confirm.
  12. Restart the computer.
    You may receive the We apologize for the inconvenience... message again. Let the timer complete the countdown from 30 to 0.
If the computer still does not start, continue to Step 8 and perform a recovery.
If the computer starts into Windows and the error does not return, you are done.

Step 8: Recovering Windows XP

To perform a recovery, refer to the following document: Performing an HP System Recovery in Windows XP .

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