This ‘Shell cannot be started. Failure Occurred During Initialization‘ error occurs when Windows users attempt to open a Powershell terminal window conventionally. In the vast majority of reported occurrences, the issue is restricted to the 64-bit version of PowerShell (the 32-bit version works just fine).
If you’re looking for a quick fix, you can launch the 32-bit version of Powershell instead, since the issue only seems to occur with 64-bit versions of Powershell.
But if you’re looking for a permanent fix that will fix the issue indefinitely, you should run the .NET framework repair tool in order to fix corrupted dependencies and consider creating a brand new Windows profile in case the issue persists.
How to fix the ‘Failure Occurred During Initialization’ error in PowerShell?
Method 1: Opening the 32-bit version of Powershell
As it turns out, ‘Shell cannot be started. Failure Occurred During Initialization‘ error typically occurs with the 64-bit version of Powershell. if you’re looking for a quick fix that will allow you to input commands in Powershell without getting to the cause of this error, you should open a 32-bit window of Powershell instead.
But keep in mind that this is only a workaround as it won’t repair the root cause that will trigger the ‘Shell cannot be started. Failure Occurred During Initialization‘ error.
If you want to use this workaround, here’s s a quick guide on opening the 32-bit version of Powershell:
- Press the Windows key to open up the Windows start menu.
- Use the search function to search for Windows PowerShell (x86) and press Enter.
- Then, from the list of results, right-click on Windows PowerShell (x86) and choose Run as administrator from the newly appeared context menu.
- After you manage to open up the x86 (32-bit) version of Powershell, input the command that was previously throwing the ‘Shell cannot be started. Failure Occurred During Initialization‘ error and see if the issue is now resolved.
In case the same problem is still occurring or you want to get to the root cause of the issue, move down to the next method below.
Method 2: Running a .NET Framework Repair Tool
As it turns out, most users that have encountered this particular issue have confirmed that the issue was related (in some way or another) to the Microsoft .NET Framework folder. In most cases, the ‘Shell cannot be started. Failure Occurred During Initialization‘ error will occur with .NET Framework 4.x due to a file named machine.config.
If this scenario is applicable, you should be able to fix the issue by replacing the .NET corrupted instances with healthy copies. There are multiple methods that will help you do this, but the most accessible one is running the .NET Framework Repair Tool.
Most affected users have reported that the issue was fixed swiftly after they ran this proprietary Microsoft tool to fix the corrupted .NET dependencies.
Here’s a quick guide on running the .NET Framework Repair Tool on every recent Windows version:
- Open your browser and access this link here. Once the page is completely loaded, click on the Download button (under Microsoft .NET Framework Repair Tool).
- After you arrive at the next screen, start the operation by checking the box associated with NetFxRepairTool.exe. After you do this, click on the Next button to advance to the next menu.
- Once the download is complete, double-click on the installation executable and click Yes when prompted by the User Account Control prompt in order to grant admin access.
- After you open the Microsoft .NET Framework Repair tool and you get to the first window, you should proceed by checking the box associated with ‘I have read and accepted the license terms’. After you do this, click on Next to advance to the next menu.
- When you get this far, the utility is already scanning the .NET dependencies for issues. Wait patiently until the process is complete and avoid interrupting it to avoid causing additional issues.
- Once the process is complete, click Next once again to automatically apply the repair strategies that are recommended.
- After the fixes have been successfully applied, click on Finish to complete the process.
- If you’re not prompted to restart your computer automatically, do it manually and see if the problem is resolved at the next system startup.
In case you’re still encountering the same ‘Shell cannot be started. Failure Occurred During Initialization‘ error, move down to the next potential fix below.
Method 3: Creating a new Windows profile
As it turns out, this issue can also be caused by a corrupted windows profile that ends up interfering with your OS ability to make use of .NET dependencies. One way to fix this issue is to create a new Windows profile. This operation will end up replacing corrupted dependencies with healthy copies.
Several affected users have confirmed that this operation finally allowed them to fix the ‘Shell cannot be started. Failure Occurred During Initialization‘ error when opening Powershell.
Here’s a quick guide on creating a new Windows profile on Windows 10:
- Open up a Run dialog box by pressing Windows key + R. Next, type ‘ms-settings:otherusers’ and press Enter to open up the Family & other people tab of the Settings app.
- Once you manage to get inside the Family & other users tab, scroll down to the Other users tab and click on Add someone else to this PC.
- After you arrive at the next screen, add the email (or phone number) associated with the Microsoft account and click on ‘I don’t have this person sign-in information’ if you want to create a local account.
- At the next screen, login with your Microsoft account or click on Add a user without a Microsoft account (if you want a local account).
- Next, add a username and password to the new account, then fill the security questions and click on Next once again.
- After the new account has been created, restart your computer and sign in with the newly created account at the next startup.
- Open an elevated Powershell window and see if you’re still encountering the same ‘Shell cannot be started. Failure Occurred During Initialization‘ error.