Imagine that suddenly and without warning, while working on your computer, the screen says goodbye. For a short period of time you will see a blue screen that contains highlighted information, but before you can read everything, the computer will shut down and restart. The Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), also known as a stop error or bug check, is a warning of faulty hardware, software, or drivers forcing Windows to shutdown.
- Steps to follow if a blue screen appears
- Steps to follow after successful restart
- The most common error messages
- Solutions with Windows functions
- How can a blue screen be prevented
The blue screen is therefore an indication of a critical system error . As a precaution, the computer suddenly shuts down, leaving you surprised or upset in front of the screen. Depending on the version of Windows you have, the blue screen will look different.
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In most cases, the computer can restart normally after a blue screen, in which case you will be able to find out what is causing it. In contrast, if the blue screen reappears shortly after starting the PC, a hardware defect may need to be repaired . Sometimes a system component needs to be replaced, for example, a RAM or hard drive failure. In other cases, the operating system must be reset. In the IONOS Digital Guide you will learn how to proceed after the appearance of a blue screen.
Regularly backing up your data and documents protects you against data loss in the event of potential critical system errors that eventually manifest on a blue screen of death.
Steps to follow if a blue screen appears
- Try to remember what you were doing at the exact moment the blue screen appeared . Were you playing on the computer or just editing a document? Were you watching a video from the Internet or were you in the middle of a video call? The answer can offer invaluable information about the cause of Windows blue screen. Take note of the last action you took; Ideally, you should be able to remember what programs were open at the time.
- Check the temperature of your computer . If it gives off unusual heat, it may not be ventilating properly, which may be because you don’t have enough room to circulate air. In addition, dirt caused by, for example, a buildup of dust can greatly influence a rise in system temperature and thus performance, causing damage to hardware. In these cases, the appearance of a blue screen as a precautionary measure is not uncommon.
- Remove all unnecessary hardware , such as external hard drives, headphones, cameras, USB sticks, etc. Sometimes the blue screen is caused by faulty devices or drivers.
- If the computer does not restart automatically, wait a few minutes before turning it on again.
Steps to follow after successful restart
If the computer restarts, there are a few ways to find out what causes the blue screen.
- Get the information found on the blue screen. In Windows you have the option to disable the automatic restart of the system , so that you can have enough time to write down the error that appears on the blue screen. To do this, follow these instructions: right-click on “Computer” (for example in Windows Explorer) and then on “Properties”. In this way, a window will open with the information of your system. Go to “Advanced System Settings”. In “Start and restore” accounts with the option to remove the check mark from “Automatically restart”.
- When the blue screen reappears, log the error message . It will appear at the bottom of the screen in Windows 10 and earlier versions on the third line from above. A characteristic of error messages are capital letters. For example: “KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED” or “DATA_BUS_ERROR”. This includes an error code in 0x00000 format, and sometimes a responsible system file (such as usbuhci.sys or kbdhid.sys ). Therefore, the same blue screen can contain two or three important data.
- Even if the blue screen does not reappear, it is advisable to determine its cause to avoid future breakdowns. Fortunately, in cases where system errors occur, Windows creates so-called minidump files that certain programs can read. You can use the free BlueScreenView tool to rebuild the last displayed blue screens.
- Normally, with the information obtained, you can search the web to determine the cause. We have compiled the most common error codes for you.
Since the Windows 10 update on its anniversary, the program generates a QR code on the blue screen that you can scan with your mobile phone. In most cases, however, you will only be redirected to Microsoft technical support, and that page offers limited help.
The most common error messages
|DATA_BUS_ERROR||Memory failure||Check the RAM lock function with MemTest or replace the hardware if necessary|
|INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE||Defective driver||Update or install the driver|
|Virus / malware infection||Antivirus analysis, in BIOS within “SATA Mode Selection” change from “IDE” to “AHCI”|
|UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP||Hardware failure||Uninstall and reinstall drivers (mainly for those recently added devices)|
|Too high temperature||Check the operation of the fan, if it is necessary to clean the PC or check the environment|
|NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM||CPU memory overload||Look for complex processes in Task Manager; Uninstall / reinstall the affected program if necessary; For Windows processes, check for errors on the hard disk on which Windows is installed (right-click and then “Properties”, “Tools” and “Check”).|
|IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL||Incompatible or outdated drivers||Deactivate recently added drivers through device manager (look for the command “mmc devmgmt.msc” in the start menu and run it); then get and install the latest driver version corresponding to the device manufacturer|
|BAD_POOL_CALLER||Unwanted memory access||Disable drivers for recently added devices via Device Manager (see above); Then obtain and install the latest version of the corresponding driver from the device manufacturer.|
|FAT_FILE_SYSTEM||Incorrect file system||Check the operation of the hard disk, find and run “chkdsk” in the start menu|
|OUT_OF_MEMORY||Memory failure||Check the RAM lock function with MemTest or replace the hardware if necessary|
|PAGE_FAULT_IN_NON_PAGED_AREA||Memory failure||Check the RAM lock function with MemTest or replace the hardware if necessary|
|UNABLE_TO_LOAD_DEVICE_DRIVER||Defective controller||Disable drivers for recently added devices via Device Manager (see above); Then get and install the latest version of the corresponding driver from the device manufacturer.|
|KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED||Defective software||Uninstall / reinstall recently used software (latest version or version supported by the system)|
|With file.sys: system errors||In the event of system file errors, run the Windows repair tool (see “Checking and repairing system files” below).|
Microsoft provides an overview with about 350 known error codes. However, the page is only available in English and is intended for experts.
Solutions with Windows functions
If multiple blue screens prevent you from making adjustments and finding possible solutions, it is best to start Windows in safe mode. Hold down the F8 key during computer startup to switch to safe mode before the Windows logo appears. In this mode, Windows will load only the processes and drivers that are absolutely necessary. You may be able to solve existing problems like this without having a blue screen.
Another way to activate safe mode is to work directly in Windows. Find the ” msconfig ” function in the start menu and execute it by right-clicking on it as administrator.
Launch the system setup program quickly and easily by searching the start menu
In the system configuration window you can activate the “Start in safe mode” function under “Start”. Confirm by clicking “OK” and restart your computer. Windows will boot into safe mode.
Checking and repairing system files
Many of the internal problems can be solved with Windows’ own tools. Find the command line in the start menu and open the program (also by right-clicking and selecting “Run as administrator”).
Right-click the entry to run the command line as administrator
In the new window you can type commands. First write “sfc /?” and press “Enter”. Next, you will be offered some options to check the system files . At first it is recommended to choose “sfc / scannow” for a complete scanning process, which can take up to 30 minutes. At best the faulty system files will be repaired and the blue screen issue will be resolved. With “sfc / scanfile = FILEIPFAD” you can check and repair only a certain file. This option is recommended if the faulty system file is specified on the blue screen. Thus, you will save a lot of time with the repair. Of course, this is only possible if you have the exact file path.
Start Windows in the last configuration that worked
Windows is able to remember the last time it ran smoothly and reactivate this version, if necessary. To do this, shut down and restart the computer while holding down the F8 key when restarting. Below the options you will find “Last known configuration that worked.” Now start Windows with this version. If this option resolves the blue screen error, it is likely that a system or driver update has caused the problem.
If all else does not help, it may be necessary to reinstall the operating system . Again, hold down the F8 key when starting your computer and select “Repair Computer.” Here you will find the option to restore your system.
If you have a Windows installation disc, you can launch it at boot time and reboot the system.
Be careful because all the data stored on the system hard drive will be lost. Therefore, you should only consider this possibility if all other solutions have not helped you.
How can a blue screen be prevented
You cannot protect yourself 100% from a possible blue screen of death since internal errors can occur without the user being complicit in it. This may be due to an incorrect update or spontaneously occurring hardware defects. However, with certain tricks you can prevent the loss of important data, as well as reduce the chances that a Windows blue screen will surprise you without warning.
- Create backup copies of your data and documents. Because the blue screen is often an indication of hardware defects, and therefore also of the hard drive, you should make an external backup of all important data on the hard drive. Store backup copies of your files on external media or in the cloud to minimize damage caused by possible system failures. The fastest way to do this is with the Windows data backup tool itself: in “Control Panel”, in the first section “System and security”, go to “Create a computer backup” (Windows 10: “Backup and Restore”). You can then create a recommended or individual backup of your data on a hard drive of your choice (for example, an external hard drive).
- Keep both the Windows version and the device and system drivers updated . As a general rule, they are automatically updated. Rarely, a faulty update may be the cause of a blue screen. However, it is recommended to comply with the updates in order to avoid possible compatibility problems.
- Use an updated antivirus with an active scanner and / or a firewall to protect yourself against viruses or malware , among others. In some cases, these malicious programs cause critical system errors and Windows must respond with a blue screen. There have also been cases in which malicious programs have simulated a blue screen to deceive the user and scam him.
- Keep your computer clean and tidy. Check if the fan works without problems to avoid defects in the equipment. Leave the computer off when you don’t use it. Uninstall the software you don’t need and watch the processes in the background. Don’t click suspicious links on the Internet and, if possible, get downloads from reputable sources. Careful and conscious manipulation of your computer considerably prolongs its useful life and reduces the possibility of errors in the system in the form of a blue screen.