How to Fix a Blue Screen of Death

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Cause of Blue Screen of Death error

Blue screens are generally caused by problems with your computer’s hardware or issues with its hardware driver software. Sometimes, they can be caused by issues with low-level software running in the Windows kernel. Regular apps usually won’t be able to cause blue screens. If an app crashes, it will do so without taking the operating system out with it.

A blue screen occurs when Windows encounters a “STOP Error.” This critical failure causes Windows to crash and stop working. The only thing Windows can do at that point is restart the PC. This can lead to data loss, as programs don’t have a chance to save their open data.

When a blue screen occurs, Windows automatically creates a “minidump” file that contains information about the crash and saves it to your disk. You can view information about these minidumps to help identify the cause of the blue screen.

Blue screens also look a bit different, depending on what version of Windows you’re running. In Windows 7 and previous versions, the blue screen looked much like a terminal screen, displaying all manner of information.

In Windows 8 and 10, blue screens are much simpler.

That’s really not as big a deal as it sounds, though. Even in previous versions, blue screens tended to go by fast enough that reading that information was difficult, anyway. And there are easier ways to get all the details you need for troubleshooting.

How to Fix a Blue Screen of Death

This troubleshooting guide will apply to any version of Windows, including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Tip: If you are experiencing a completely blue or light blue screen with no text or error message, your computer may have a bad video card or monitor, resulting in only seeing a blue screen. If possible, attempt to check if your video card is having issues or your monitor is bad.

Note: If you are getting a blue screen and then your computer immediately reboots without being able to read the text in the blue screen, follow the steps below. If you cannot get into Windows to perform the steps below, boot the computer into Safe Mode. If you cannot boot into Safe Mode, you may have corrupt Windows system files, a defective memory chip or a defective hard drive. You should run hardware diagnostic tests to determine if the memory or hard drive is causing the blue screen errors.

  1. From the desktop or in the Windows Start menu, right-click on My Computer or Computer.
  2. Click the Properties option.
  3. In the System Properties window, click the Advanced tab or the Advanced system settings link.
  4. On the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup and Recovery section.
  5. In the Startup and Recovery window, uncheck the Automatically restart check box.
  6. Click OK.

If you have trouble locating good advice for solving your problem, don’t worry. BSODs can have a variety of root causes. We do have some additional tips that might help you deal with many blue screens:

  • Use System Restore: If your system recently started blue-screening, use System Restore to roll its system software back to a previous state. If this works, you’ll know that it’s likely a software problem.
    Scan for Malware: Malware that digs deep into Windows and gets its hooks into the Windows kernel at a low level can cause system instability. Scan your computer for malware to ensure buggy malicious software isn’t causing it to crash.
  • Install Updated Drivers: An incorrectly installed or buggy driver can lead to crashes. Download the latest drivers for your computer’s hardware from your computer manufacturer’s website and install them — this may fix BSODs caused by driver problems.
  • Boot Into Safe Mode: If your computer is blue-screening every time you turn it on, try booting into safe mode. In safe mode, Windows loads only the essential drivers. If a driver you’ve installed is causing Windows to blue screen, it shouldn’t do so in safe mode. You can work on fixing the problem from safe mode.
  • Check for Hardware Problems: Blue screens can be caused by faulty hardware in your computer. Try testing your computer’s memory for errors and checking its temperature to ensure that it isn’t overheating. If that fails, you might need to test other hardware components—or hire a pro to do it for you.
  • Reinstall Windows: Resetting Windows—or performing a clean install—is the nuclear option. It will blow away your existing system software, replacing it with a fresh Windows system. If your computer continues to blue screen after this, you likely have a hardware problem.

Fatal exceptions

Many of the blue screen error messages you’ll encounter with earlier versions of Windows will be fatal exception error messages or Fatal 0E messages. If your blue screen message starts out with A fatal exception 0E … or An exception …, you are encountering this error. For these blue screen errors, follow the fatal exception error troubleshooting steps.

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How to Fix a Blue Screen of Death
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