The "Blue Screen of Death"

That old "Blue Screen of Death" is the nemesis of many Windows users, even in these days of Windows 2000 and XP.

So named for its colour (blue) and its function (a "dump screen" that gives you somewhat cryptic technical information as to why Windows just crashed), it's become synonymous with Windows annoyances in general.

But don't hide from it and pray it doesn't happen to you
(or pray it'll just go away). Over the next few tips we'll tell you how to beat the BSOD, learn what it's telling you and fix the problem at its root.

Why do BSODs happen in the first place? There are four top reasons that account for the vast majority of BSODs:

  1. Bad hardware
  2. Environmental conditions
  3. Bad kernel drivers
  4. Hardware conflicts

A BSOD staring you in the face is sending you a message. Generally, at the very top of the screen there is a line with the label "*** STOP:...." followed by a series of numerical codes, called parameters, and a text description of the crash. The codes are used to provide additional information about the crash and vary from error to error. Below that is usually a list of the services and drivers running at the time of the crash, and the memory address of the crash (which isn't too useful unless you're a programmer).

In the coming tips we will give you a rundown of the most common BSODs, their corresponding error information, and some possible resolutions.

From time to time we get calls where the user explains that "the computer just keeps restarting on its own". The fact that the computer is doing this says that there is a stop_error happening and in order to resolve the matter we must be able to see the BSOD to determine the cause. Thankfully, you can disable this behaviour easily enough and we suggest you do it now just in case your computer falls ill. Just follow these three steps:

  1. On the start menu right click My Computer and choose Properties
  2. In the Properties window that will open, select Advanced and click the Settings button under Startup and Recovery
  3. Under System Failure, uncheck "Automatically restart."

Click OK on all dialog boxes to close them and then restart your computer.

This way, if you do get a BSOD error, you'll be able to see it and make sense of it instead of being dumped right back into your boot or startup screen.

Final Words

Being proactive toward troubleshooting on your computer only takes a few minutes. Hopefully you will never need it but if you do, you will be prepared.

As always, should you have any questions about your computer, do not hesitate in picking up the phone or writing... better to contact me and be sure.

Tom @ Tata Computers