If you have ever spent any time using a computer, you will be familiar with the term “BSOD” or “Blue Screen of Death” you may have even seen a few of them. “Blue Screen of Death” is a light-hearted term for a “Stop Code”. A stop code gives information detailing why a computer crashed.
The Blue Screen first appeared in Windows NT 3.1 (released in 1993) and they stayed very similar up until the release of Windows 10 (2015), when they revamped it with the sad face image (example at the top of this blog). This newer version of the BSOD is more user friendly and doesn’t contain as much information, instead of giving a code it gives us the English translation for it, in the example “CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED” and a QR code that when scanned takes you to a webpage and explains a little bit about debugging.
The image below shows the older version of a Blue Screen of Death from Windows 7. Note how it provides more information.
(To keep it simple I’ll only explain a few bits here)
We can see that the stop code is “0x0000001E” and then parameters for the code are “0x8000003, 0x8008CB62” etc. Parameter 1: The exception code that was not handled, Parameter 2: The address at which the exception occurred. Etc. The last section at the bottom lists NTOSKRNL.EXE which is a fundamental part of a Windows operating system that links software to hardware.
Usually a Blue Screen is caused by a faulty driver or faulty hardware. If you have recently changed some hardware and a BSOD starts to occur it’s worth swapping the hardware out to see if they stop, if they do, then you either haven’t updated the drivers on the system to match the new hardware or the hardware may be faulty.
If you have recently updated some drivers or installed some software, then this would be most likely cause of the BSOD. The first step in troubleshooting a Blue screen is asking yourself “What’s changed?”.
Two of the most commonly seen stop codes are:
(0x0000007B) INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE this normally means that a BIOS setting for SATA mode has changed from AHCI to IDE Mode, this can be caused by a power cut and a dead BIOS battery making the BIOS reset to default settings. This could also be caused by turning a computer on while having an external hard drive or memory stick plugged into it.
(0x0000001A) MEMORY_MANAGEMENT This can be a sign of faulty RAM however it can also point to a faulty driver causing issues.
If you find yourself in a position where you encounter a “Blue Screen of Death” please note down the details from it or take a photo of it and restart your computer. If it happens again then it’s time to troubleshoot. You can find a list of bug check codes from Microsoft here that will be of help you to understand what your specific bug check is for. If you’re not confident to troubleshoot this on your own then I’d advise getting professional help from an IT support company to do this for you, we have tools that can speed up the process and remove all your frustration as we do the hard work.