At some point in time it is safe to say that every Microsoft Windows user is going to experience a blue screen of death (BSOD). The severity of BSOD’s can vary, some are just one offs that won’t cause any problems; others will be reoccurring and might prevent you from booting up your computer.
If you have been happily using your computer for a long time and you are just suddenly experiencing BSOD’s then the first thing you should do is look at what has changed on your computer recently. A very common cause of BSOD’s is new software or new drivers installed that are causing conflicts. If you have just installed a new anti virus scanner or installed a new piece of hardware then you should uninstall it and see if the problem remains. If you no longer get any BSOD’s after the uninstall then you know what the problem is.
Unfortunately though this isn’t always the case and some BSOD’s are harder to identity and harder to fix. Below is the list of the top three causes of BSOD’s and an explanation as to what you can do to identity and resolve them.
Faulty Memory – One of the most common and most overlooked causes of BSOD’s. People often spend hours trying to fix the problem and go as far as formatting their computer and reinstalling Windows, only to face the same problem again. If your BSOD’s are often different and relate to different file names or different STOP codes then there is a good chance it could be caused by faulty memory.
The best way to diagnose and fix this is to remove a stick of memory at a time and try every combination there is. Most people will be lucky to just have two memory sticks and so this is quite easy to diagnose and fix. If you have just one memory stick then try to get hold of an identical one to swap it with. Alternatively you could run a memory test program, Microsoft offer one as a bootable disc and this will do an extended test on your memory to check for faults. Click here for the link to their windiag site for more information on their memory test tool. Don’t forget to protect your files from disaster. By using a disaster recovery program, you will be able to safely backup the files that you need.
Faulty Hard Drive – The symptoms for this can be similar to the above; random BSOD’s that don’t seem to follow much of a pattern and have different STOP codes each time. Unfortunately this one is a little harder to fix than replacing memory. If you suspect your hard drive could be at fault then it’s a good idea to back up your data straight away and install Windows onto a new hard drive. A good way to test for the fault is to run a chkdsk /r command in a command prompt. You should be asked to reboot and Windows will run a full check on your hard drive when it starts back up. The /r command will check for bad sectors and label them as bad if it finds any. This can sometimes cure the problem but if there is a serious fault on the drive it will need replacing.
Conflicting Hardware – This normally happens when you have a driver that is not fully compatible with the operating system or it conflicts with an important system file. You can normally identity these because you will generally get the same error code each time and it should identity a particular dll or sys file. You should make a note of the file it is referring to and search online for the manufacture of that file. By doing this you should then be able to identity which piece of hardware is causing the problem. You should then update the driver as soon as possible and search online for the most up to date version. Nine times out of ten this should resolve the problem.