Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Troubleshooting the Blue Screen Of Death

BSOD’s, spontaneous reboots, freezing, and “incorrect password” lockouts. Bad computer. Bad.

bsod.jpg

Ah yes, the Blue Screen of Death. I sincerely hope you never see this rascal. The BSOD, or more properly, the Windows Stop Message, occurs when Windows detects a problem from which it cannot recover. The operating system halts and ‘diagnostic information’ is displayed on a blue screen as a series of hexadecimal numbers (there actually are a few humans capable of understanding, and using this information to effect repairs…but as far as I know, they all live in Seattle) which, frankly, will be of little use to the average user. Usually, a simple reboot resolves the issue. But sometimes it doesn’t–you reboot, Windows loads, you get the Welcome screen, and bingo! BSOD. Wash/rinse/repeat. Aargh!!!

If this happens to you, the odds are pretty good that you have (quite recently) added a new device (or card) or memory module to your machine, or installed a program that your machine just doesn’t like.
If it was a module, device, or card, try removing it and restoring your machine to the way it was before the install. If you run for a day or so with no BSOD’s, then you can be fairly sure you’ve found the culprit. It may be that the device is defective. It may be that you didn’t install it exactly correctly [maybe it didn’t “seat” all the way into its slot?], or maybe your machine was being fussy the day you installed? Don’t give up on your new card/device/module just yet. Go to the manufacturer’s Website and download the latest device driver for your version of Windows, and “unzip” and install it (by double-clicking on the downloaded file). Then reinstall your card/device/module–taking extra care to fully seat it, and double check your wires and cables–and reboot. If it is a defective unit, it will not be long before our friend the BSOD revisits…return the unit to the seller (or manufacturer) for exchange or refund.

If you suspect a recently installed application (or…Microsoft Update) is the cause, then use the Add/Remove Programs tool to uninstall it. (XP+older: Start> Control Panel> Add/Remove Programs, Vista: Start> Control Panel> Uninstall a program.) [Note: in Vista, uninstalling Updates is done through Windows Update itself, not Add/Remove.]
If you are unable to get into Windows, reboot and start hitting the F8 key to get into Safe Mode. [For more info, click here] Again, run for a day or two, and if you do not experience any BSOD’s, you’ve (most likely) found the perp. Again, you need not despair and abandon the program. It may have simply been an incomplete or corrupted install that was causing the stop errors. Try reinstalling it, but first make sure that there are no other applications running–turn off your AV, your IM, and close IE. You will soon know whether it is simply an incompatible or poorly written application.

I am going to stop here, but I want to acknowledge that this is far from a complete discussion on all the possible causes (nor cures) for BSOD’s and the other woes mentioned at the top of this post. I will return to this topic again, and I invite your comments and critiques, and suggestions. I close by suggesting you also read my article on the Windows System Restore tool (click here) and reminding you that — should all your efforts fail, my services are available at http://aplusca.com.

Today’s free link: Sandra Lite from SiSoft. This is a benchmarking and system analysis tool that shows you a wealth of information about the workings of your computer, and detects areas that aren’t working as well as they should.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 3, 2008 - Posted by | advice, BSOD, computers, device drivers, hardware, how to, PC, performance, Plug and Play, removing Updates, Safe Mode, System Restore, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. my computer, when i start it up the windows loading page doesn’t even get to come up, instead i get a flash of BSOD and my computer restarts. I’ve tried starting in safe mode, safe mode with command prompt, safe mode with networking and the option start with previous settings that worked, they all cause me BSOD. I’ve tried entering the BIOS, but something else comes up saying boot with floppy, cd-rom drive, dvd drive, and something i believe is my harddrive(wierd name). i tried my wierd name one, still doesn’t work ><. any advice besides reformatting. And btw there is no way for me to tell what the BSOD is saying, it comes and goes way too quick.

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    Comment by maik norman | July 21, 2008 | Reply

  2. Maik–
    I am sorry to hear of your troubles– they are serious, but not (usually) unrecoverable.
    My answer sort of depends on your experience level.
    If you are an “advanced” user, comfortable with DOS and the command line, there is a method that involves the Recovery Console (an option available when you boot from the Install CD) and going into Recovery Points. Use a search engine to look up “repair Windows with Recovery Console” for the steps.
    If you aren’t quite that skilled, but have Installed Windows before, you can boot from the CD, launch Setup.exe and start the Install. Windows will see/detect your previously installed version and ask you what you want to do– select “Install to same Windows folder” which will put a new Install over the old Windows system files, and move your previous files and folders and documents to a folder named “Windows.old”. Simply reinstall you apps, set things to your liking, and drag-and-drop your old files to your new My Documents folder.
    If you are at all uneasy by the words I’ve used so far, take your computer into a real technician’s shop.. not some chain-store’s Support Department. Recovery is a time consuming process, so expect to pay a reasonable fee.

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    Comment by techpaul | July 21, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] […]

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    Pingback by BSOD fault PC woe - Windows Vista Forums | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  4. I have dealt with a wide range of blue screen of death problems and the main cause is not having your drives synced properly with your operating system and hardware. Make sure you update your drivers on a regular basis and you should be just fine.

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    Comment by Blue Screen Error | November 27, 2009 | Reply

  5. Hey,
    I have Windows 7 running. I get a BSOD everytime I connect it through an external modem. It doesn’t show any error when working on LAN or WiFi. Can you give me some suggestions?

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    Comment by Koustuv | June 21, 2011 | Reply

    • Koustuv,
      From the (limited) information available, it sounds like either the device, or the device driver, is either incompatible with Windows 7 or faulty. I would start by going to the support/download page at the device manufacturer’s website and downloading the appropriate driver (32-bit or 64 bit).. if a Windows 7 driver is not available, you might try the appropriate (32-bit or 64 bit) Vista driver (if available).
      You can find if your version of Windows 7 is 64-bit by right-click-ing on Computer, and selecting Properties.

      Should that fail, I would look for a new external modem — one that is ‘rated’ 64-bit/Windows 7 compatible.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | June 21, 2011 | Reply


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