Computer Skills Required: Beginner to intermediate
Duration: Depends on diagnosis
Your computer suddenly crashed then a blue screen appeared with figures that you don't understand. When it restarted, you found out that your work is unsaved. A few moments later, the computer showed the same screen again and restarted. It then happens endlessly.
Windows XP BSOD, identical to Windows 7
Windows 8 system and above
The blue screen of death (BSOD), formally known as “stop error” or simply “system crash” is a fatal error screen displayed by Windows. The computer is made to “stop” if the system cannot function safely anymore and to prevent damage to the system. It is commonly caused by faulty hardware or software that is related to hardware. Some are initiated by viruses or malware.
Prior to Windows 8, BSOD shows some technical information as initial diagnosis, while the later version suggests to seek more information online. Digging into the root cause of error through lenghty system error logs might take hours and requires programming skills, so here are some practical ways to troubleshoot and fix BSOD:
Recent Hardware and Software Changes
If you have changed something recently with your computer, or the system made changes to itself (e.g. Windows Update), then it might be causing of the problem. Some computer settings, drivers (the software that controls your hardware) or changes in hardware or component might be the root problem. Putting the settings or hardware back might be the solution.
1. If the computer restarted and you can still login to Windows, click “Start” and type “System Restore”. Choose the most recent restore data that the computer had function. This will revert all system changes that you or your computer has made.
2. If you cannot access Windows by normal means, then login into Safe Mode. To do so, press F8 before the Windows boot-up screen. Choose “Safe Mode” at the menu. Safe mode loads minimal services and drivers so any errors with the two can be bypassed at the moment. If you successfully login to Safe Mode, do step 1 to do undo changes.
3. If you replace a hardware inside the CPU, your new hardware might not be compatible or defective. Replace it by another one and try again.
4. Some changes in BIOS settings sometimes causes errors because of incompatibility with the configuration with the existing Windows settings. Undo what you changed in BIOS then restart your computer.
5. Format the computer to a fresh Windows installation. If the problem persists, then the problem is the hardware.
1. Reseat all the components inside the computer, including the cables. Bad contact with each hardware causes blue screen. To do, remove all the parts, then put it back. Ensure that the contacts and cables are firmly acttached.
2. Overheating hardware might cause BSOD. Make sure that all exhaust and vents are clear and fans are functioning -- free from dust. Clean the processor's heat sink. It is best to use a medium paintbrush and compressed air (or ball pump) for the heat sink.
3. Test the peripherals. Set your computer with the minimum requirements to boot Windows: a motherboard, CPU, CPU fan and heat sink, RAM and video card (or a built-in one). If it boots and runs well, then one or more of the removed parts are defective. Try to identify which component is defective by testing it on the motherboard, replacing each with a good one, one at a time. If the new hardware does not give you a blue screen, then the old one might be faulty.
BSOD Caused by Viruses and Malware
Few viruses and a lot of malware types go deep into your Windows system affecting its processes giving you the same blue error. Scanning your computer with an updated anti-virus and anti-malware may resolve this issue. It is recommended to scan your computer outside the Windows Environment so malware won't be active in memory and hide into the system. Avast! Antivirus has a boot-up scanner option. Malwarebytes is an excellent malware fighting software that can create bootable USB drives or hides itself from attackers so you can install it in infected system. (For instructions, see Malwarebytes On Infected Systems).
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