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The “Blue Screen of Death” a.k.a. “the Blue Screen” or BSOD which is actually a Windows operating system “stop message,” will appear whenever a software, hardware or driver error occurs preventing Windows from operating properly.

Sometimes, the problem will resolve itself with simple reboot of your system. However, the error that has caused the Windows failure and the subsequent “Blue Screen of Death,” maybe something more sinister and more tricky to correct.

The following are some generic tips on how to get your PC up and running again following an encounter with the “Blue Screen of Death.”

A Windows operating system can crash for any number of reasons and in any number of ways. Regardless of the specific Windows operating system you use, chances are you will have at least one brush with the “Blue Screen of Death” at some point in your life. However, the newer the version of Windows that you use, chances are the fewer blue screens you will encounter. For example, Windows XP is much more stable than Windows 95.

Because there are so many ways that your Windows operating system can crash and burn into a “Blue Screen of Death,” the following instructions are simply generic troubleshooting suggestions that may help you in the event that you’ve come face to face with the “Blue Screen of Death.”

Basic Troubleshooting for BSOD

For starters, when the “Blue Screen of Death” appears upon your screen, grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Be sure to write down all relevant information that appears on the screen including error numbers, file names or anything else. Unfortunately, these messages may appear for just a split second before your computer automatically restarts, particularly if you are using Windows XP. To prevent this from happening, right click on “my computer,” choose “properties,” select the “advanced” tab. Under “setup and recovery,” click “settings” and uncheck “automatically restart.

When the “Blue Screen of Death” appears attempt to restart your computer. Sometimes, if the blue screen appears while windows is booting, it may kick over to a troubleshooting menu that will give you the option to “restart Windows normally.” If your computer restarts without issue, be sure to save the information you wrote down about the error and save it in case it happens again or so that you can do more specific research about the messages you received.

If the system does not start correctly or the blue screen continues, reboot the system and when the memory screen appears, press F8 repeatedly. This should bring you to the advanced options menu.

In this menu, choose to start Windows in “safe mode” which will load only a minimal set of drivers and no automatically loaded software. If it is a software issue, or even a driver issue for that matter, that is causing the “Blue Screen of Death,” Windows should now load properly with limited functionality. Within safe mode, you can try to fix the problem using some of the tips listed later in this tutorial.

If your PC fails to load Windows in safe mode, restart your computer again, repeatedly pressing F8 during memory check. Instead of choosing to start windows in safe mode, this time try the option to “restore last known good configuration” in the advanced options menu. If your system boots normally, the problem has likely been fixed.

If none of the tips listed above help and you still get a Windows stop message or if system restore is disabled, make sure to write down any information you can get from the blue screen messages. The next question to ask yourself is, did you install any new hardware or software shortly before this problem occurred? If so, this new hardware or software may have caused the problem.

Specific Troubleshooting BSOD

If the “Blue Screen of Death” is a reoccurring issue or your computer crashes regularly and it is affecting your use of Windows, there are a number of more specific options that may alleviate the problem.

Once you have followed the “basic troubleshooting” instructions outlined above, you should have a grasp on whether or not the stop messages are related to new software or drivers, or if it is a hardware issue or a system file issue. If you haven’t figured this out, the rule of thumb is that if you cannot boot into safe mode, you are probably experiencing a hardware issue or a system file is missing or has become corrupted. If you can boot into safe more, but are still experiencing the “Blue Screen of Death” while running windows normally, you likely have a software or driver issue.

Software & Driver Issues

If you boot into safe mode, the first step should be to perform a system scan with virus and spyware software. If the scan finds and eliminates any items, it is possible that those items were causing the stop error. Attempt to reboot Windows normally.

If the problem persists, startup in safe mode again and attempt to run the Windows system restore utility. From safe mode, you should be able to access all restore points created by the restore utility. This is more reliable than the “last known good configuration” option mentioned earlier. In order to access the system restore utility go to “start,” choose “all programs,” choose “accessories,” choose “system tools” and click on “system restore.”

Use this utility if you are fairly sure about the recent software or driver that may have caused problems, because you can choose to restore the system the configuration that existed prior to this installation. However, that software will now be disabled should you choose this option. If you don’t know the root cause of the stop error issues, simply restore the system to the point just prior to when you started seeing the “Blue Screen of Death” appear on your computer. If the first choice does not address the issue, keep trying until you have found the right restoration point.

Other ways to deal with software or driver issues is to simply disable or uninstall the item, which has been determined to be the root cause.

Additional Driver Issue Solutions

If you have determined that it is a device driver that is the root cause of the issue, you can try to revert to a previous version of the same driver or simply disable it. To do either, right click on “my computer,” choose “properties,” click on the “hardware” tab and choose “device manager.” Expand the section for where the problem device is located, highlight that device, right click and choose “properties.” Click on the “drivers” tab.

Click “roll back” to revert to a pervious version of the driver or choose “uninstall” to completely remove the driver. You may also choose “disable,” which will prevent Windows from loading the device during startup.

If the driver was the culprit and Windows opens normally, search for a working driver for the affected device.

Additional Software Issue Solutions

If your Windows stop error messages are the result of faulty or incompatible software that starts automatically with Windows, crashing the system, you can use your PC’s MSCONFIG utility to edit your startup programs.

Choose “start\run” and type “msconfig” and click the “startup” tab. Simply uncheck any or all items on the list. Once you have edited your startup programs, reboot.

Hardware & System File Issues

If your PC will not even allow you to boot into safe mode and the “last known good configuration” option has failed, your computer is probably the victim of a hardware or system file issue. Here are some solutions:

Check for hardware errors

If you have recently added any new hardware to your system, power off the computer, remove them, and then attempt to reboot your computer. If you changed your motherboard or moved your Windows installation to a new system, perform a repair install of Windows.

Test Your System Memory

If no new devices have been added or if removing them does not help, obtain a Windows memory diagnostic or memtest memory diagnostic program and copy it to a CD. Use the CD to reboot your system and test its memory. If there are errors in the memory of your system, this is the likely “Blue Screen of Death” culprit. If this is the case, you will likely have to purchase new memory.

Fix Missing/Corrupted System Files

Windows may not work if certain system files are missing or corrupted. Similarly, changing the motherboard may cause your Windows installation to stop working until system files are updated and repaired. Perform a Repair Install, which will reinstall all Windows system files without effecting directories, settings or user data.

Other Defective Hardware Issues

If you continue to experience similar startup problems, power off your computer, open it’s case and remove any non-essential hardware. The only things that should be connected to your system and motherboard should be the mouse, keyboard, hard drive, CD drive, video card, memory, processor and power supply. Next reboot your PC first in safe mode, then normally. If the computer boots without error, the issue is likely with one of the components you removed. Pinpoint the issue by reinstalling each component separately.

The procedures presented in this piece should help you to fix most “Blue Screen of Death” issues. However, because there are so many problems that can result in the “Blue Screen of Death,” it is impossible to address every situation and express every solution. Hopefully, this tutorial will help get your PC back onto the road to recovery.
 

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