Windows failed to start a recent hardware or software change might be the cause

Another computer problem with Microsoft Windows operating system. This time most likely with Microsoft Windows 7 operating system. Below is the original question quoted verbatim.

“Asus My laptop will not restart. Message is “Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause…””

This individual did NOT know what operating system this computer had. This to me is an amazing lack of computer literacy. Anyways, they claimed they owned this Asus laptop for five years.

Most likely this individual owned an Asus computer with Microsoft Windows 7 operating system installed. Also, this laptop did NOT come with a DVD drive nor did it include a slot for it. Turn off that laptop.

Remove the battery and all external devices like USB printer, external hard drive, flash drive, etc. Disconnect the power cable from both wall outlet and laptop. Press and hold the power button for 60 seconds.

Plug the power cable back into wall outlet and laptop. See if Windows will boot. If your laptop battery is underneath a cover, you can skip that portion of the instructions and follow the rest.

If clearing potential electric static discharge or some funky Window hardware problem, was not fixed, then power off your computer. Power it back on and immediately start tapping your F8 key until an advanced boot options menu opens. Make certain to start pressing your F8 key before windows tries to boot.

Choose “Last known good configuration”. If that does not work then try “Safe mode”, “Safe mode with networking” or “Safe mode with command prompt” from that same advanced boot options menu. If your computer is able to boot into any of the safe mode options, your problem is NOT necessarily fixed.

You could then try to boot into normal mode. If you still receive that albatross of an error, then try booting into safe mode again. This time you want to perform some scans.

Perform a malware, spyware, virus, system file check, and check disk scan. You can perform a spyware scan on Windows 7 with the free already installed Windows Defender. To perform a malware scan, you may want to download and install Emsisoft Emergency Kit and or Superantispyware.

There are a plethora of antivirus software available such as Avast, AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, etc. You certainly do NOT need to use those tools that I mentioned. Now you want to run a system file check with the following command.

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sfc /scannow

You need to type in this command into a command prompt with administrator rights. Finally, perform a check disk scan with the following command.

chkdsk c: /f /r

This is a comprehensive scan that can take hours and potentially days to complete on a corrupt or failing hard drive. There are five stages with the command I gave you. You need to type this command into a command prompt with administrator rights.

I normally run a system file check scan three times. I only run a check disk scan once, unless I receive an error or after running this scan Windows boots differently or I feel running the scan a second time may potentially fix. If none of these scans do NOT fix your issue, you can open Device Manager and see if there are any hardware devices with problems.

Look for a red x or yellow exclamation point. Also, you can remove that problematic device in Device Manager and then clicking on a “Scan for hardware changes” tool. This should reload the driver for that device. If this does not fix your problem, you may need to download and reinstall the driver from the original equipment manufacture website.

Another potential way to fix this problem, is to perform a Microsoft Windows system restore. You would restore your computer back to before you were having this problem. Choose a recovery date back to before this error appeared.

You should not lose any of your important personal data. However, your programs that you installed after that recovery date will be removed. Finally, never interrupt a Microsoft Windows system restore while it is running.

If you are technology capable you could boot off of a Windows 7 compact disc or DVD and potentially fix your problem. If you search the Internet for “Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause“, you may find some additional ways to fix this problem, which are beyond the scope of this blog post. They would require command line expertise.

If you are NOT technology capable or just not in the mood to fuck around in the command line, at the very least you could take your hard drive out of your laptop and recover your data by installing it into a second computer. However, this might not be your cup of tea, so when all else fails, take it to a computer technician widely known as a computer repair individual. At the very least, they will be able to recover your data.

Also, they might be able to fix this problem. If not, they could reinstall the Windows 7 operating system for you. They would just need the Windows 7 certificate of authenticity product key that is legible on a sticker on your Asus laptop.

These instructions were written for an Asus laptop with Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, but certainly could be used as a basis point to troubleshoot other versions of Microsoft Windows operating system with a similar error and basically any computer hardware compatible with Microsoft Windows operating system.