An error screen called the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) appears when something goes seriously wrong with your Windows computer. It is often caused by a hardware fault, a problem with your drivers, or a software error.
In general, BSODs occur when Microsoft Windows encounters a critical error that it cannot recover from. Here are some common causes, and how you can start troubleshooting BSODs.
BSOD: What Does It Mean?
The term “Blue Screen of Death” itself is a humorous reference to the fact that the blue error screen is a sign that a serious – even deadly – error has occurred on your computer.
It has been a fundamental part of the Windows experience since the 90s, and everyone who runs a Windows PC has encountered a BSOD.
On Windows 10 and Windows 11, Insider Preview versions of Windows have a “green screen of death” instead of the blue screen.
Blue Screens of Death: What Causes Them
Most blue screens are caused by a problem with your computer’s hardware or hardware driver software. Blue screens are usually caused by problems with low-level software in the Windows kernel, or by a serious driver error. Regular apps are unlikely to cause them. When an app crashes, it will not take out the operating system with it.
When Windows encounters a “STOP Error,” it crashes and stops working. The only thing Windows can do is restart the PC, which may lead to data loss.
If 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 the minidumps to help identify the cause.
A blue screen looks different depending on your version of Windows. Windows 10 and Windows 11 have simple blue screens. You’ll see a frowny-face emoji and the message “Your PC has run into a problem and needs to restart.” We’ll collect some information about the problem, and then we’ll restart.
Blue Screen Error: How Do You Fix It?
There are several ways to fix a blue screen error. Sometimes, a cursory internet search will reveal what’s wrong with your system. At other times, you need special software to diagnose your system. Use WinDbg or
WinDbg Blue Screen Error Fix
Blue screen errors can be diagnosed with WinDbg, a powerful tool.
SDK installation for Windows 10
Visit the Windows 10 SDK download page. The Windows 10 SDK contains numerous tools, such as the Windows Performance Toolkit, Debugging Tool for Windows, .NET Framework Software Development Kit, and more.Once the installer has been downloaded, run it.
When the Windows 10 SDK installer opens, select the first option to install the Windows Software Development Kit. The default installation path is fine.
Then press the Install button.
WinDbg: Opening and Configuring
Go to Windows Kits > WinDbg in your Start menu and choose the debugger that best fits your system architecture. I have a 64-bit system, so I’ll use WinDbg X64.
Your BSoD memory dump contains information about the crash, such as “cause” and “location”.
There are two main types of BSoD memory dumps: full dumps and minidumps. A minidump is usually smaller, but contains more information than a full dump.
In your root directory, typically C:WindowsMinidump, you will find the minidump logs.
The full dump can also be found at C:Windowsmemory.dmp
This tutorial will analyze a minidump (since that’s what I have).
Check out how to enable post-crash Windows dumps if you don’t have any.
Getting back to WinDbg, we need to set a symbols source. Symbols are essentially identifiers for programming languages that relate to specific information. Symbols make it easier to analyze logs and codes.
Copy and paste the following into File > Symbol File Path:
Once that is done, press OK.
WinDbg Analysis of Your Crash Dump
You can either drag your dump file into WinDbg or press Ctrl + D to open the file browser and locate your dump file. When the dump file loads, you will see the initial analysis screen. It will look like this:
The error code is BugCheck 1A
Memory_corruption ( ONE_BIT ) gives you an instant indication of the problem
Your BSoD is probably caused by a memory error in this case.
WinDbg commands can be used to take the analysis to the next level. For instance, the !analyze -v command (highlighted in blue in the image above) displays detailed information regarding your error message. Under the Bugcheck Analysis header is a command link. If there is no link, enter the command at the bottom of the WinDbg window if there is no link.
The command performs a huge amount of automated analysis. WinDbg displays the results under a new BugCheck Analysis header. While WinDbg throws out a lot of information, you are only interested in a few key pieces of information to round out your BSoD assessment.
In addition to the new BugCheck Analysis header, the parameters provide additional useful information. For example, in the example below, the fault is confirmed as Memory_Management (1a). Further information is provided by the Arguments (informative parameters).
According to Arg1, “A corrupt PTE has been detected,” explaining that “Parameter 2 contains the address of the PTE.”
The PTE error probably refers to my virtual memory, so I can start my BSoD fix there, but there are many more errors that I don’t know about.
A search on the internet is your friend in those cases. Searching for the initial error code and additional argument information will return results of other users experiencing the same problem. The system error you are experiencing isn’t new and mysterious. Someone else will also have experienced the same BSoD. You are not the only one experiencing it.
With your BSoD information, you can now complete an internet search.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS
If analysis of your Blue Screen with Wibdg does not fix your computer repair problem try the following.
- If your system recently blue-screened, use System Restore to roll its system software back to a previous state. If this works, you’ll know it’s a software computer repair issue.
- Scan your computer for malware to ensure buggy malicious software isn’t causing your computer to crash. Malware that digs deep into Windows and gets its hooks into the Windows kernel at a low level can cause system instability.
- The latest drivers for your computer’s hardware can cause BSODs if they are incorrectly installed or buggy. Download the latest drivers for your computer’s hardware from your computer manufacturer’s website and install them – this should fix BSODs caused by software problems.
- You can try booting into safe mode if your computer is blue-screening every time you turn it on. When Windows loads safe mode, it loads only the essential drivers. If a driver causes Windows to blue screen, it shouldn’t do so in safe mode. In safe mode, you can work on fixing the problem.
- Blue screens can be caused by faulty hardware in your computer. In order to ensure that your computer isn’t overheating, you should check its memory for errors and check its temperature. You might need to test other hardware components if that doesn’t work.
- Reinstall Windows: Reinstalling Windows is the nuclear option. It will replace your existing system software with a fresh Windows install. If your computer continues to blue screen after this, you likely have a hardware issue.
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