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How to Fix Blue Screen of Death Windows 10
The infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) can be frustrating and worrying when it appears on your Windows 10 computer. Also known as a Stop error, BSOD indicates a serious problem with your system. However, not all BSODs are unrecoverable and many can be fixed with some troubleshooting. This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to diagnose and repair the most common Blue Screen errors in Windows 10.
What Causes the Blue Screen of Death?
The Blue Screen occurs when Windows encounters a critical system error or problem from which it cannot recover. Some common causes include:
- Faulty or incompatible drivers – Drivers that are outdated, damaged, or incompatible with your hardware can trigger a BSOD. Video card drivers are a common culprit.
- Bad RAM – Faulty RAM modules or RAM that become damaged can lead to Blue Screen crashes.
- Overheating – Excess heat can cause damage to critical components like the CPU and RAM, resulting in BSODs.
- Disk errors – Corrupted system files, bad sectors, and damaged hard drives can result in critical STOP errors.
- Malware/virus infection – Viruses and other malware can sometimes modify or corrupt crucial Windows system files, causing Blue Screens.
- Software conflicts – Incompatible or buggy software programs can clash with Windows and generate system crashes.
Identifying the Cause of BSOD
When the Blue Screen appears, it will display a Stop code/error message indicating the type of problem or crash, such as “PAGE FAULT IN NONPAGED AREA”, “IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL”, “MEMORY MANAGEMENT”, etc. Identifying the Stop error code is key to troubleshooting the issue.
The Blue Screen will also provide a list of file names and drivers that were involved in the crash. Make a note of these as they can help pinpoint problematic drivers.
Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing Common BSOD Errors
Follow these steps to diagnose and address the most common Blue Screen for Death crashes in Windows 10:
- Check for overheating issues
Overheating can damage components and cause BSODs. Make sure your PC and hardware like CPU, GPU and RAM are not overheating by checking their temperatures in the BIOS or using a hardware monitoring app like Speccy or HWInfo. Ensure your PC has adequate ventilation. Clean any dust buildup from fans and heat sinks.
- Scan for malware and viruses
Malware infections can modify system files and settings, leading to Blue Screen crashes. Scan your system with reliable antivirus software like Malwarebytes or Windows Defender to detect and remove any infections.
- Update Windows, drivers, and firmware
Outdated drivers are a prime cause of BSODs. Go to Windows Update and install all available Windows and driver updates, especially GPU drivers. Also update your BIOS/firmware and other hardware components like network adapters to eliminate any incompatibilities. Restart your PC after updating.
4. Check memory for errors
Faulty RAM frequently causes Blue Screen crashes. You can scan your system memory for errors using the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool. Start by searching for “Windows Memory Diagnostic” in the Start menu. Then restart your PC and the tool will run on bootup. It will scan the RAM and detect any faults. If errors are found, you’ll likely need to replace the bad RAM modules.
5. Run SFC and DISM system file checks
Corrupted Windows system files can cause BSODs. Run the System File Checker (SFC) tool to scan for and restore corrupted files:
- Open an elevated Command Prompt
- Type “sfc /scannow” and hit “Enter”
- Restart your PC once completed
Then run the DISM tool checkHealth command to check the Windows image for problems:
- Type “DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth” and hit Enter
- Run DISM a second time with “RestoreHealth” instead of “CheckHealth” to repair any issues
6. Uninstall problematic software
Recently installed or faulty programs can sometimes conflict with Windows and cause Blue Screens. If the BSOD started occurring after installing a particular software, try uninstalling it. Use the Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a program option. Also uninstall any unnecessary or unused applications.
7. Check hard drives for errors
Hard disk errors like bad sectors can result in critical STOP errors. Run the CHKDSK command to scan for hard drive errors:
- Open an elevated Command Prompt
- Type “chkdsk /f C:” (replace C: with your system drive letter if different”)
- Type “Y” and hit Enter to proceed
- Restart your PC and CHKDSK will run on bootup before Windows loads
Any disk errors found will be repaired. Consider replacing the hard drive if errors persist.
8. Test your RAM with memtest86
For deeper RAM testing, download and run the free memtest86 tool. This comprehensively checks your RAM sticks for faults. Allow multiple passes of the test for thorough testing. If the test reveals RAM errors, the modules will need to be replaced.
9. Check minidump files for error details
Minidump files contain technical data on the cause of BSOD crashes. They can provide troubleshooting clues. Minidumps are located in C:\Windows\Minidump by default. Search for any minidump files from around the time of your most recent BSOD. Double-click a minidump file to open it in BlueScreenView for analysis. Look under the Bug Check Code and Caused By Driver section for error details. Google any identified driver file names along with the Stop code for fixes from the community.
10. Rollback or uninstall recent driver updates
If the BSODs start after a Windows, GPU or other driver update, it’s possible the new driver is faulty. Open the Device Manager, find the relevant device, right-click and select Properties > Driver tab > Roll Back Driver to revert to the previous driver version that was stable. If that doesn’t work, try uninstalling the device driver altogether.
11. Stress test your hardware
Hardware faults like bad RAM or a failing hard drive can cause Blue Screens. Stress test components like the CPU, RAM, GPU and hard drives using tools like Prime95 and Memtest86 to identify any faulty hardware that may need replacing. Even overclocked PCs should pass stress testing when stable.
12. Test in Safe Mode and clean boot
Boot your PC into Windows Safe Mode to see if BSODs still occur when startup programs and third party services are disabled. If the BSOD stops in Safe Mode, a conflict with a startup program or driver may be causing the crashes in normal mode.
You can also perform a clean boot to isolate the culprit. Use msconfig to selectively disable startup items and services and restart. If the BSOD goes away after disabling a particular software, you’ve found the conflict.
13. Reset or refresh your PC
If all else fails, resetting your PC by reinstalling Windows 10 can eliminate any corrupted files or settings causing Blue Screens. You have two options:
- Reset – Fully reinstall Windows but retain your personal files and apps.
- Refresh – Clean install of Windows and remove all programs and files, restoring a blank system.
Backup important data first! You can initiate these recovery options under Windows 10 Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.
Common Blue Screen Error Codes and Solutions
Here are some of the most common Stop errors and their typical fixes:
- PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA – Faulty memory (RAM) causing invalid page faults. Run MEMTEST86 to verify.
- IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL – Outdated or bad drivers. Update drivers and remove recently added drivers.
- KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED – Device driver issue. Update drivers and disable anti-virus software.
- SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED – Incompatible drivers and services. Update drivers and uninstall problematic software.
- MEMORY MANAGEMENT – Memory (RAM) corruption. Run Windows Memory Diagnostic. Test RAM with MEMTEST86.
- DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL – Bad drivers. Roll back or update drivers.
- ATTEMPTED_EXECUTE_OF_NOEXECUTE_MEMORY – Damaged hard drive. Run CHKDSK /f.
- KERNEL_SECURITY_CHECK_FAILURE – Corrupted system files. Run SFC and DISM scans.
- CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED – Hardware failure or driver problem. Check minidump error details. Stress test hardware.
- WHEA_UNCORRECTABLE_ERROR – Failing or overheating hardware. Check CPU and GPU temperatures. Test RAM and drives.
Preventing Blue Screens in the Future
Here are some tips to help avoid BSODs going forward:
- Keep your Windows OS, drivers, and software up-to-date
- Only install trusted programs from reputable sources
- Maintain active antivirus protection
- Regularly backup important data
- Clean out dust, especially from PC heat sinks and fans
- Avoid overclocking components like CPU, RAM and GPU
- Monitor system temperatures using an app like Core Temp
- Disable Fast Startup in Windows settings to allow proper rebooting
Carefully following the step-by-step troubleshooting guide above should resolve the most common Blue Screen errors. However, if issues persist or worsen, you may need to repair or replace any identified faulty hardware components causing the BSOD crashes.
FAQs: Blue Screen of Death Fixes
What are some quick fixes for a Blue Screen error?
Some quick things to try include:
- Disconnect or uninstall recently added hardware/drivers
- Boot into Safe Mode
- Roll back any recently updated drivers
- Run antivirus scans to check for malware
- Open the case and ensure cables/components are properly connected
- Check for overheating issues
- Reseat RAM modules and graphics cards
- Access Advanced Startup Options and Startup Settings to access recovery tools
Why does my computer keep showing Blue Screen?
Frequent Blue Screens usually indicate faulty hardware or drivers. Some common culprits:
- Faulty RAM modules
- Overheating CPU or GPU
- Buggy graphics or motherboard drivers
- Failing hard drives with bad sectors
- Damaged Windows system files after a virus infection or incomplete update
- Hardware components that aren’t fully compatible
Frequent crashes point to underlying hardware or driver-related faults. Thoroughly check drivers, test components, monitor system health, run file scans and stress tests to identify problems.
Is it safe to restart the computer after the Blue Screen?
Yes, it is generally safe to reboot your PC after a Blue Screen crash. The BSOD halts system operations to prevent further damage. After a crash, Windows will automatically generate a memory dump file and restart. Important: Don’t continually power on if you keep getting BSODs. Repeated crashes can indicate a serious failure that can worsen if continually booted.
Why did my Blue Screen message disappear before I could read it?
To give you time to read the BSOD error message, disable the automatic restart feature:
- Go to the Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings.
- Under Startup and Recovery > System Failure, uncheck “Automatically restart”
- Click OK to apply settings
Now your PC will halt on a Blue Screen until you manually restart instead of auto rebooting. You’ll have time to read the error code and message to help troubleshoot the issue.
How can I tell if my Blue Screen is caused by RAM?
Clues that point to faulty RAM as the BSOD culprit:
- Error code “PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA”
- Error messages referencing memory failures or corruption
- MEMORY_MANAGEMENT or IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Stop errors
- BSODs during memory-intensive tasks like gaming or video editing
- You recently installed new RAM modules
- Windows Memory Diagnostic tool finds RAM errors
Test your memory stick with MEMTEST86 to confirm the RAM faults causing Blue Screens.
What’s the easiest way to fix the Blue Screen of Death?
Some easy first steps:
- Identify the Stop error code and note any error details
- Check for overheating of PC components
- Update Windows, chipset/motherboard and graphics drivers
- Roll back recently updated drivers if issues started after an update
- Disconnect or remove any new hardware/USB devices
- Scan for and remove malware with antivirus software
- Run SFC and DISM system file scans/repairs
Taking these simple steps can resolve many common BSOD issues and avoid more complex troubleshooting.
While the Blue Screen of Death can seem alarming when it appears suddenly, stopping your PC is a protective measure to prevent further damage from critical errors. In most cases, the BSOD can be resolved with some diagnostic troubleshooting to identify and address the underlying fault.
Carefully noting the Stop error code and message when a Blue Screen occurs is key to diagnosing the problem. Follow the step-by-step guide above to update drivers, test components, check system health, scan for file corruption and malware, and fixing any errors will help isolate and repair the cause of most BSOD crashes.
Identifying and replacing any damaged or incompatible hardware is crucial for preventing repeat Blue Screens going forward. With the right diagnostic approach, you can get to the bottom of frustrating Blue Screen errors and restore normal functionality and stability to your Windows 10 PC.