It sometimes happens when working on your PC; a blue screen abruptly pops up having the text written in white, which says, ‘Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart.
We’re just collecting some error info, and then we’ll restart for you.’
Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) or the STOP error is not only frustrating but also leads to severe data loss if in case the data you are processing is not saved on the hard drive.
Unlike an application crash, the STOP error is one of the worst kinds of errors which brings the whole system out.
BSODs can be a fatal consequence of critical error either in the computer's hardware or even related to the software. The operating system fails to recover from the critical error it registers and reboots itself.
It was first observed in the Windows 3 operating system and has been successively witnessed in all the latest versions of the same. In the earlier versions of Windows, like Windows 7, the screen displayed all the information related to the crash. In the latest versions, though, the sight is much simpler.
Since the system reboots in just a few instances, it is anyway not possible for the user to grasp all the information.
Windows is, by default, programmed to reboot instantaneously after it registers the STOP error. As the blue screen comes up, it first creates a memory file that stores the crash information and saves it to the disk.
Depending on the operating system in use, the file created may range from a 64kB "minidump" introduced in Windows 2000 to a "complete dump," which is similar to the physical memory of the system or the RAM. This file can later be debugged by the user by the aid of the kernel debugger.
If the user wishes to have more time to learn about the details being displayed on the screen, such as the specific error code causing the failure, they can manually disable the automatic restart after BSODs from the control panel.
One will have to access the Advanced system settings and click the Settings button under "Startup and Recovery." A dialogue box would appear where the user will have to uncheck the option for Automatic restart under system failure tab.
In doing so, they will be able to view the blue screen and comprehend all the necessary details without the system rebooting.
Causes of BSODs
There could be numerous reasons for BSODs. As the blue screen comes up, a text containing a code of error and its symbolic name is displayed.
A common error code, for example, is "0x00000003 INVALID_AFFINITY_SET". The user can copy the corresponding code and look for solutions on the internet. Otherwise, the system reboots and fixes incurring problems. But even the system sometimes fails to execute the task properly.
As it happens, troubleshooting becomes necessary to get an insight into pertaining issues. The problem causing the hasty failure, as mentioned before, might be related to hardware or the software. Here is a checklist of probable causes of the error:
Software Related Issues of Blue Screen of Death
1. Newly installed programs or drivers.
Sometimes it happens that the updated drivers or new software installed directly or indirectly trigger the STOP error. It is always possible for the user to gear back and opt for an earlier working state of the system. Uninstalling the drivers can resolve the issue.
On the other hand, sometimes, the software may be incompatible with the operating system's working version. In that case, 'startup repairs' is always a probable way out. It is already installed in the system and might help the system to recover successfully.
If in case it doesn't work, the user must try using different but similar software that would be compatible with the operating system.
2. Old software or un-updated drivers.
In a confrontation with the first point, sometimes older versions of the software and the drivers which are not updated cause the blue screen. In such a case, the user must try installing the latest system drivers and updating the software's working versions.
3. Low storage.
Low disk space is a rare reason for the blue screen of death, but it cannot be overlooked. When disk space is running low, it might mean the drivers are not updated, or the search file index is corrupted. To resolve the issues of STOP error, there must be ample storage space.
Users must always keep the storage in check and, as a thumb rule, have 15% to 20% space of hard drive free.
4. Corrupted files.
Driver lags or rare bugs may get pushed in the system, thus corrupting the system files. One good way to resolve the issue might be to run detection tests to find bugs and accordingly remove them.
BIOS is rarely advised to be updated since it works for long time intervals.
But at some point, its compatibility with the system is affected, thus triggering the BSOD. One can also try returning the BIOS to the default working state to deal with the error since it can cause many unwelcome issues.
If in case the BIOS levels are highly customized, and it isn't practical to reinstate it back to default levels, one can at least change the CPU multipliers to adjust overclocking and voltage settings. By doing so, in some cases, one might resolve the problem causing the error.
6. Virus and malware.
Due to malware and viruses, the system files and drivers may end up corrupted, causing the blue screen of death. Specifically, malware paves its way into depths of the operating system and gets into the Windows kernel, causing instability.
It is always good to keep the anti-virus software updated and perform regular scans. If any software has been downloaded from a suspicious site, it must be instantly eradicated from the disk.
7. System restore.
Try taking a step back to the point where all the drivers and functions were working fine and see if the system works fine. While making any minute changes, keep track of your actions and carry out modifications in the drivers, one at a time.
By repeatedly doing so, the user may be able to identify the fault.
Blue Screen of Death Explained
Hardware related issues of the blue screen of Death
Improper air circulation
One indication of repeated shutdowns caused by the blue screen of death could be an unusually high system temperature. Due to improper air ventilation, system hardware's temperature may increase, causing hardware drivers to fail.
In response to it, errors popping up is a common precaution which the system takes. To avoid it, the user must ensure proper working of the cooling fan and must, at regular intervals, get rid of the dust clogs in the system.
Unplug unnecessary hardware cables
It is advised to operate the system, which has been incurring the error only on the essential hardware peripherals. One can unplug peripherals like portable hard drives, printers, smartphones, HDMI cables, etc. Since these can affect the working of a PC, they may cause the error.
One can also test the hardware to find out any damaged pieces of the system, which might be the sole reason for BSOD. Start running the system with minimal peripherals, and if it works, you might realize the culprit causing the abrupt failure.
Loose hardware cables
Besides unplugging unnecessary hardware, the ones which could be loosely linked to the system might also cause the blue screen to come up. One should thus, always ensure that all the hardware attached isn't in loose contact.
We know that it is essential to update the working versions of hardware constantly, it is also necessary to update the ageing hardware. As it reaches the end of life, the failing hardware begins to send SOS hints or Blue Screen death.
Run hardware diagnostic tests and try changing or updating the hardware. It is important to have a backup before altering the hardware settings.
Ensure that the system's hardware is well on the compatibility list. It is always possible that it might not be compatible with the version of the operating system in use and maybe the reason for the error. The support information from the manufacturers about the hardware might prove to be pivotal too!
Firmware is a special class of software that provides low-level control of the hardware. Just like in many cases updating the software helps in resolving the issue of Blue Screen of death, updating firmware, the hardware’s software is a good idea.
Apart from the given remedies, if the system is anyway blue-screening every time, running it in safe mode could turn out to be helpful. In that way, the operating system would only run on essential drivers providing minimal functionality and thus allowing you to diagnose the problem.
If any driver is causing the brusque failure, it won't bother you in the safe mode. The last nuclear option or the do or die alternative to deal with the error is to reinstall Windows or perform a clean test. It will get rid of the existing software on the system and put in place a fresh Windows system.
Although, if the cause is related to the hardware, reinstalling Windows won't help. Thus, before opting for the final option, one must, in a way, meticulously assess the probable outcomes.
The procedure of troubleshooting BSODs is roughly the same in various operating systems. In Windows 7,8, and 10, one can troubleshoot the blue screen information using the action centre. In Windows 7, troubleshooting can be done by heading to "System and Security" in the control panel.
Simultaneously, in Windows 8 and Windows 10, the user will have to access Security and Maintenance in the control panel itself.
Windows 8 and Windows 10 perform the step of troubleshooting automatically, but it is still recommended to visit the Action Centre and look for details. When sometimes, the operating system fails to chalk out the details, it is always good to search the web for alternative solutions.
Copy the code being displayed on the screen and search for the solution on the internet. In that way, you will get an insight into the root problems causing repeated blue screening.
Apart from all the conventional solutions to detect the problem, some specially built software could help you detect the exact trouble. Here is a list of special tools which could be preferred:
It is specially designed to interpret small dump files created by the system when it suddenly fails to operate. Thus, it generates a detailed report about the crashes and comes with a unique feature to search drivers online and help you resolve the issue quickly.
It has a simple user-software interface and is available to everyone for free.
If you want to find out the exact reason why the system abruptly blue screened, then this is the software you should be vouching for. WhoCrashed helps you to look for the particular driver whose failure must have caused the BSOD.
It scans the system to look for the kernel modules that might have caused the failure. It is openly available on the internet and also offers its users recommendations on potential causes of failure.
Restoro is an ideal software to deal with all sorts of errors. It delivers the best performance when it comes to repair and optimization of the system. It runs deep scans and detects the minor problems causing the blue screening. Added to it, it automatically fixes the problem.
Along with it, the user interface of the software is easy going making it one of the most desirable software to diagnose problems. In conjunction with all its features, the software enhances the system's performance, inhibiting intermittent freezing and thus improving the overall stability.
All this comes at a free price for the users.
Built by Microsoft, this is another free troubleshooting software that scans the dump files using the command line and helps users debug the system to prevent Blue Screen of Death.
Debug Diagnostic Tool
It is primarily designed by Windows to troubleshoot. Unlike the other mentioned software, this one does not aid in taking care of problems like crashes, blue screens, memory loss, etc. Instead, it helps the user in generating crash and hang reports. It is freely available to everyone.
When there seems to be no way out, these tools often prove to be the ultimate saviors when the issues are software-related. But when the problems are related to hardware, one will have to take professional help after a point.
Are BSoDs harmful to computers?
It is undoubtedly infuriating and frustrating when the screen suddenly goes blue and reboots.
Not only is there a critical loss of data, but it also distorts the link. Imagine you are in an interview on Skype or an online video conference with your colleagues when the system decides to reboot itself. Exasperating, isn't it?
Having quoted all the Blue Screen of Death's unwelcome consequences, one must realize that technically it isn't 'bad' for the computer when it encounters blue screens on rare occasions. The whole point of the abrupt reboot of the system is to protect the system.
When it senses something isn't running smoothly, it decides to immediately stop its functioning, which comes to our sight in a dreadful blue screen. Even the perfectly operating systems have minute flaws since neither any software nor any hardware is perfect.
It is important to take into consideration the phrase 'rare occasions' above. Blue screening once or twice in a year is perfectly fine, but when it becomes a repetitive contingency, one should interpret it as a warning. It might come as a sign of failing hardware, which must not be avoided.
If the issue anyway prevails and goes beyond your understanding of the system, don't try any other things.
Instead, simply consult professional help from the experts. They would know about every minuscule issue causing the screen to go blue. Their help would save your time and frustration that comes with the ugly shutdowns.