Blue Screen of Death
In Windows operating systems, the "Blue Screen of Death" is among the most feared error messages that can occur. This nickname, given by users because of the distinctive monochromatic blue background on which the error message is displayed, refers to any error which results in a complete system shutdown. When a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) occurs, it is often accompanied by a message which is not incredibly useful to the user, such as "STOP" or "PAGE FAULT IN NONPAGED AREA". This article will go over some of the common causes of BSoD errors, along with how they can be fixed.
In resolving a BSoD error, the first thing to consider is whether or not you made a change to the computer immediately before the error began to occur. Installing a new program, or a new hardware peripheral, are the two most common examples of changes that can result in BSoD errors. If you are positive that you have changed nothing, failing hardware or malicious software could be causing the issue.
If you have made a change to the computer recently, you are already in possession of the simplest way to resolve the issue: the Windows System Restore utility. System Restore automatically takes a snapshot of the configuration of your computer before changes are made, enabling the computer to be easily restored to its previous state in case there is a problem with the change. To use System Restore in Windows Vista, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and System Restore. The software will guide you through the rest of the process.
If you are unable to run System Restore because the computer is not booting properly, it may be necessary to run System Restore from Safe Mode. To do this, tap the F8 key repeatedly after the computer begins to boot, and before Windows begins loading. A startup menu will appear. Choose Safe Mode, and proceed to run System Restore to restore the computer to the point before the change was made.
If System Restore is unsuccessful in resolving the BSoD error, the error may be occurring as the result of a faulty driver installation or software that is not fully compatible with your computer. To remove installed software in Windows Vista, click Start, then Control Panel. From the Control Panel, double click on Program and Features. On the list that appears, right click on the program that you would like to remove, and choose Uninstall. This should be done in Safe Mode if the program is causing a BSoD error.
Faulty drivers should also be removed from within Safe Mode. This can be done by right clicking on My Computer, then clicking Properties. Click Device Manager, then scroll down until you have found the hardware category that contains the recently installed drivers. For example, a sound card driver will appear under Sound, Video, and Game Controllers. Click the plus icon to expand this category, right click on the device, and select Uninstall. Ensure that you have the correct drivers for this device available before uninstalling the present ones.
If you are sure that no recent changes have been made to the computer, the most likely culprit is a virus or malware. These can be installed without knowledge when a compromised website is visited, and can often cause BSoD errors. Several programs are available for the scanning and removal of viruses and malware. Some of these are free, but many of the best solutions cost a modest fee.
The most popular solutions for the removal of viruses and malware include:
- ZSecurity: http://www.zsecurity.com
- TrendMicro Housecall: http://housecall.trendmicro.com
- Ad-Aware: http://www.lavasoft.com
- Spybot Search & Destroy: http://www.safer-networking.org
If none of these solutions resolves your BSoD error, it may be caused by hardware that is no longer working properly. Because the easiest way to isolate failing hardware is to try operating the computer after changing just one item of hardware at a time, it may be easiest to have a professional look at the issue for you. Failing power supplies are one of the most common hardware-related causes of BSoD errors, due to the lack of clean power going into homes. A competent computer hardware technician would be able to diagnose this for you.