How to Fix Blue Screen of Death
When operating systems encounter an unexpected situation, many display a blue screen with white text detailing the nature of the error. Windows is especially susceptible to these errors because Microsoft doesn't control the hardware, drivers or software that you can install. As a result, the PC components sometimes don't work properly, generating faults. When a PC displays this screen, it is frozen and requires a hard restart. Because it can be a symptom of serious problems and you lose all your unsaved work, users of early versions of Windows injected some humor into the situation and started calling it the "Blue Screen of Death," or BSOD.
Look for the text, "The problem seems to be caused by the following file," on the BSOD and note the names of any files that appear there. Note the names of any files after, "Technical Information."
Shut down your computer by holding down the "ON" power button for five seconds. If you are using a laptop, remove the battery if holding down the power button doesn't shut down the machine.
Push the power button again to restart the computer. If the computer starts normally and you don't see the BSOD again, the fault was temporary and restarting Windows has fixed the problem.
Shut down the computer again if the BSOD returns. Restart the computer and hold down "F8" to get the Windows Advanced Options Menu. Follow the on-screen instructions to select "Safe Mode."
Click the Windows "Start" button and type into the Search field the name of one of the files you noted when viewing the BSOD. If the file is in a folder indicating which driver or software caused the fault, uninstall the driver or software.
If you can't identify what is causing the problem, uninstall any drivers or software that you installed recently by using the uninstall function of the software. If you can't find an uninstall function, click the Windows "Start" button, click "Control Panel" and click "Uninstall a Program" under the Programs heading. Select the software from the list and click "Uninstall."
Restore the computer to a previous state if uninstalling software doesn't fix the problem. Click the Windows "Start" button, click "Control Panel" and click "System and Security." Click "Restore you computer to an earlier time" under the Action Center heading. Follow the instructions to restore your computer.
Look for hardware faults if uninstalling software doesn't fix the problem. Only open your computer if you're comfortable working with electronics and can identify major computer components.
Check the memory cards for faults. If you have more than one, remove all but one to identify a faulty card. If you have only one memory card, get an identical card and replace it.
If removing a faulty memory card doesn't fix the problem, take the computer to a repair shop. The next most likely fault source is the processor, and it should be replaced by professionals.
Tips & Warnings
- If the blue screen of death is accompanied by a box asking you to download software to fix the problem, you have a virus that is trying to trick you into buying worthless anti-virus software. Run an updated anti-virus program to remove the virus.
- Make sure your computer is turned off and unplugged before opening the computer to reveal the internal components.
References & Resources
- University of Wisconsin KnowledgeBase: Windows -- Troubleshooting Blue Screen Errors
- Hillsborough Community College: Computer Will Not Start Up - Computer Screen is Solid Blue With Columns of Numbers and Letters (the BSOD or Blue Screen of Death)
- Grinnell College: Blue Screen of Death
- Gainesville State College: Malware / Spyware Symptoms