You have probably heard about the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Well, there could be a lot of causes for this problem. It could be a hardware problem, recent system configuration changes, system or driver files stuck in an endless loop and so on. Here, we will attempt to go over the most common causes and show you the different methods used to fix the issue.
Dealing with BSOD (a.k.a. The Blue Screen of Death)
Turning your PC on
The first thing we need to address here is what you should do after the system crash. Once the crash screen appears, shut your PC down by holding the power button until the machine turns off. Wait for a couple of minutes and then start your PC again. If you are lucky, you should have enough time before another BSOD occurs, so that you could execute the steps from the fixing methods before your PC crashes again. In case you do not have enough time and the error recurs before you could do anything to fix it, next time you attempt to start your PC, boot into Safe Mode. This should allow you to go through with the the fix methods without being interrupted by any sudden crashes.
What has caused it?
As we said above, there are plenty of possible reasons for this problem to occur. In order to determine which is the best method for solving it, you’d need to figure out what the cause of the crash is.
First of all, you would need to figure out whether it is a software or a hardware issue. If you feel confident enough, you might open your PC case and carefully examine it. Look for any cables that are not firmly connected to their sockets and see if all components are well-seated in their place. This is trickier if you are using a laptop. If you do not think that you can handle this, you might take your machine to an expert who can take a look at the internal hardware and tell you if there is something to it. However, before doing so, you might as well try our solutions for fixing any software problems that might be causing the crashes. If it is coming from your software, you might not need to take your PC to a specialist.
There are several ways you can acquire information concerning the potential cause of the BSOD problem.
- Testing your RAM, hard drive and PC temperature – There is a lot of free software online that can help you do that. You can test your RAM with a tool called memtest86 and you can use Open Hardware Monitor to check your PC temperature and various other aspects.
- Also, in order to test your hard-drive, you can use the chkdsk function integrated in your system. Here is how to do that:
- Open My Computer.
- Right-click on the hard-drive you want to check and select Properties.
- Go to the Tools tab and select Check now.
- Your PC will need to restart so as to scan the drive. Click Schedule disk check in order to set your system to carry out a hard-drive test the next time your machine boots. If any problem gets detected, then this might be what’s been causing the crashes.
- Another important thing to do is examine the crash report (tho BSOD). Usually, once your PC crashes and the blue screen appears, your machine will either shut down or restart by default. You don’t want that because this won’t’ give you enough time to look through the report. In order to disable the auto-restart, this is what you need to do:
- Open your Start Menu, type view advanced system settings and open the first result.
- Click on Settings under Startup and Recovery.
- Uncheck the option Automatically Restart and click on OK.
- The next time the crash occurs, write down the following pieces of information:
- The file name written after the message The problem seems to be caused by the following file.
- The first code after the STOP message at the bottom of the screen.
- After doing this, google the results and see if the search yields any valuable information that will help you determine what to do next.
Fix method 1: Restore point
In many cases errors that lead to a BSOD might be caused by a recent change to your system configuration. You might have issued that change yourself or some piece of programming might have done it for you without you even knowing about it. Whatever the case, the result is a system crash. If this is what has caused it, there is an easy method to fix the issue. All you have to do is restore your system to an earlier state, where the settings’ configuration did not cause crashes. However, it is important to note that in order to do that, you would have to have created a restore point at that earlier stage where things were fine, else there would be no configuration to go back to. Luckily, most of the time there are several such points created by default. If you do not know how to restore your PC back to that earlier state, here is a guide that will show you how to create a restore point and use it, should the need arise.
Fix method 2: Driver updates
In most cases, updating your drives to their newest versions should be able to do it for you. There might be a bug or a corrupted driver file that is causing the issue. Therefore, once you turn on your PC, whether it’s done normally or in Safe Mode, get onto the official site of your graphics and audio drivers developer and seek out the latest version for your system. It’s different for every developer, but usually there should be a downloads or help section on the website and this is where the downloadable contents should be.
After you’ve updated everything, restart your machine normally and see if it has been fixed. If no more crashes occur, then it is all fine now and you would not need to try the other suggested methods.
Fix method 3: OS update, repair and re-install
Maybe it is not your drivers, maybe the issue is caused by a corruption in system files of your operational system. In that case, you need to update your Windows OS or repair it. Here, we advise you to back-up any important personal files that you might have, because repairing or re-installing your OS would delete them.
- If you are a Windows 7 user, you can either download the latest updates manually from Microsoft’s official website or boot your PC from a bootable DVD/USB device. Then you can try to repair your OS, which will only delete any personal files on your PC or you can outright re-install the whole OS. We recommend the first option, since it’s easier and quicker. Go for the re-install only if the repair did not fix it.
- Update and repair: The procedure is similar for Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. However, you are given some additional options depending on what you exactly want to do. For example, if you did haven’t gotten a certain important update from Windows Update, you can execute an in-place upgrade from an ISO file or a bootable DVD/USB. If you want to Repair your Windows OS or carry out an in-place upgrade, here is a link to a guide that will show you how you can do that.
- Refresh and Reset (Windows 8,8.1 and 10): You can also Refresh or Reset your system from the boot menu. Refresh will replace all system files while leaving most of your personal data intact while Reset is will fully restore your PC to its factory state. If the issue is really persistent, you might go for this option, but not before you back-up any important files and documents that you might have. In order to get to the Refresh/Reset go to the same link for the in-place upgrade. There, you can also find instructions on how you can Reset or Refresh your machine. Keep in mind that unless you are going for the Reset option, you’d need a bootable DVD/USB device. However, even if you do not have one, resetting your OS is still a possible course of action that does not require a bootable device.
Fix method 4: Custom audio driver update
A common cause for the BSOD is when Windows forces the usage of a the wrong driver for your system. If that is what’s causing the crashes, you would need to manually update your driver, not allowing your OS to automatically install an online update.
- Download a driver that is suited for your system from the official site of the developer of your sound card.
- Open your Start Menu and search for device manager. Open the first result.
- Expand Sound, video and video game controllers
- Right-click on High Definition Audio Device.
- Select Update Driver Software and in the resulting window, select Browse my Computer for Driver Software.
- Navigate to the driver’s folder and update the driver from there.
- Make sure that the Include subfolders option is checked.
- Make sure that the Include subfolders option is checked.