There are few more terrifying things than coming face to face with the blue screen of death (BSOD). Maybe you’re rebooting your computer or you’ve just updated your PC and now your device is unusable. You’re at risk of losing valuable files, especially if they haven’t been backed up.
Don’t panic! There are some common fixes for this unsettling screen warning so let’s dive into it so you can get back to your regular computing.
What is the blue screen of death?
The blue screen of death is also called a stop message or stop error. Colloquially, it’s known as the blue screen of doom, bug-check screen, system crash, or simply blue screen error. It signifies a system crash stemming from internal issues that we will explore in-depth below.
What causes the blue screen of death?
Windows creates what’s known as a minidump file when a BSOD happens. This file contains information about the crash and saves it to the disk. However, in most cases, Windows automatically restarts when a blue screen appears.
If you want more time to see what the minidump file is or to see if it’s a blue screen happening at all, you can disable automatic restarts on BSODs from the Windows Control Panel.
When your PC restarts after a blue screen, it goes through an automatic troubleshooting and repair process on its own. However, if Windows can’t repair the issue, you can start to troubleshoot your own.
If you can isolate the actual Stop Error number or code, you can search the web for the cause of the exact error. Or refer to this helpful list of common BOSD error codes and their meanings.
How do I fix the blue screen of death on Windows 10?
First, figure out if you took any actions before the BSOD occurred. Did you install a new program, update a driver, or initiate other software changes? If you did any of these things, that may be what caused the BSOD.
Undo your last action and test for the STOP Error message. Depending on the change that occurred, these fixes may work:
- Start your PC using the Last Known Good Configuration
- Utilize System Restore
- Go back to the previous device driver before your latest update
If these do not fix the problem here are some things to check:
1. Check for driver space because if there’s not enough, it may cause a BSOD to rear its ugly blue head
2. Check the device’s temperature
A device that’s overheating can lead to a system crash and a blue screen of death. Make sure that your PC has adequate cooling systems so you don’t risk this problem.3. Scan for malware and viruses
4. Look for any patches
Microsoft provides patches and service packs for operating systems that may include fixes for your BSOD.
5. Update drivers for your hardware
Updating your drivers can fix your STOP error in some instances.
6. Check the System and Application logs in Event View to spot possible errors
7. Change your hardware settings to default in Device Manager.
If you have customized settings, that could be the root issue for your BSOD.
8. Ensure you have default BIOS settings.
9. Have you recently tried to install new memory or expansion cards?
Double-check that the components were installed and seated correctly.
10. Use diagnostic tests to find out if you have malfunctioning hardware somewhere in your computer since that’s often the culprit behind a blue screen
If your BIOS is out-of-date, it could lead to system crashes.
12. Start your PC with essential hardware
This is a good way to test what hardware is working and what isn’t.
13. Reinstall Windows
This wipes the slate clean and starts the operating system fresh. However, it should only be an action you use as a last resort because it will restore your entire computer to factory settings, erasing any files.
Are there any precautionary measures I can take to prevent BSOD?
There are a few steps you can take to help reduce the risk of running into blue screens of death. As you’ll notice, most precautions involve keeping all the components of your computer, both software and hardware, updated so you don’t run into compatibility issues.
1. Hardware care
Since hardware is often at the root of the problem when a BSOD occurs, it’s important to take steps to make sure any new hardware is paired with the correct, updated drivers. You can go to the manufacturer of your driver and manually search for these updates. You can also return the hardware to its default settings by going to the Device Manager in the Control Panel.
Just like hardware, software needs to be regularly updated. And if you’ve seen BSOD after installing new software or update, undo the installation and reinstall.
3. Keep your antivirus updated
Regularly scan your computer for viruses and malware so you can prevent attacks that cause system crashes.
4. Keep drivers updated
If you never update your drivers, they can become unstable and create issues within your operating system. As a reminder, uninstall previous, out-of-date drivers to ensure compatibility.
With these tips, you can prevent and troubleshoot any BSODs you experience and get back to computing for work or play.
About the Author
Michelle Wilson is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Michelle is a content creation specialist writing for a variety of industries, including tech trends and media news.