Troubleshoot the Blue Screen of Death - dummies

By Dan Gookin

One problem that can appear on a Windows PC is so loathed that it has its own acronym: Blue Screen of Death, or BSOD. Fortunately, Mr. BSOD isn’t as common as he was in years past, but he’s still around. Offend Windows in an extreme way and see the BSOD for yourself.

The possible causes of a BSOD are numerous:

  • Malfunctioning RAM

  • Overheating

  • Bad voltage supply

  • Faulty hardware

  • Overclocking or another extension of system abilities

  • Poorly written software — specifically, device drivers

  • Operating system bugs and other types of bugs

  • Hyperventilating

In most cases, you can do nothing but restart the computer.

Some BSOD error messages you can recover from, such as removing media that is in use by the computer. In that case, you can restore the media to (you hope) remedy the situation.

If possible, you can check the Microsoft Knowledge Base for information about the BSOD. If you see an error number, you can refer to it by using the Microsoft web page; for example:

Stop 0x00000001e

This line of text might be part of a BSOD message. In that case, visit the Microsoft Knowledge Base and search for the text Stop 0x00000001e.

The BSOD is often thought of as a Windows-only issue, but other operating systems and even game consoles use similar techniques.