[IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL] Your PC suddenly crashes showing a disturbing blue screen (BSOD) with an error message? This is because Windows has encountered a serious problem. Here’s what you need to know to find its cause and fix the system.
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Your PC suddenly crashes showing a disturbing blue screen (BSOD) with a error message ? This is because Windows has encountered a serious problem. Here’s what you need to know to find its cause and fix the system.
Blue Screen of Death, Blue Screen of Death (or BSOD, its English acronym), fatal error… This is how PC users talk about the dreaded situation: the complete crash of Windows. The one that happens suddenly, that blocks all action and loses everything! Because the system then leaves no choice: Windows stops abruptly by stealthily displaying the famous blue screen with a mysterious message before restarting the computer. No time to save documents being processed in open applications: just hope that their automatic saving mechanisms will allow you to recover a recent version of documents on the next launch…
The blue screen, its color and its messages change from time to time, as the system updates. In preview versions of Windows 11, for example, Microsoft displayed it in black, before returning to blue. Likewise, if you signed up for the Windows Insider Program to find out what’s coming to Windows before everyone else, that infamous blue screen may be green! But for the vast majority of users, it currently looks like this in Windows 10 and 11:
Frequent in the 90s, blue screens are now quite rare, Microsoft having significantly improved the stability of Windows over the versions so that system processes are not or little impacted by the crashes of other programs. The appearance of a blue screen is still possible with the latest versions of Windows.
This practical sheet offers you different ways to understand the origin of the problem and solve it. One chance: Often after a BSOD, Windows will reboot normally and you have the option to scan the PC and attempt a repair. Better to act without too much delay because a new crash can occur at any time. In the worst case, Windows refuses to launch. There are again several solutions to repair Windows or reinstall it. We, of course, cover all of these eventualities!
Why Windows displays a blue screen?
Contrary to what you might think at first glance, if Windows displays the famous blue screen, it means that it hasn’t completely lost its touch. The BSOD appears when the operating system detects that an unexpected and serious event has corrupted data and code in memory, or compromised computer security. In short, since he can no longer function normally, he voluntarily prefers to stop as a precaution, to avoid more serious damage.
According to Microsoft, based on various studies, Windows is rarely responsible for blue screens, which are mainly caused by third-party programs. Most often, these are drivers, software used to control hardware components and devices (video card, wireless network chip, etc.) or sensitive applications designed by others editors, in particular security solutions (antivirus, firewall, etc.). Unlike “classic” applications, each of which runs in a protected space of RAM so as not to risk destabilizing Windows and other applications, all of this software operates at the lowest levels of the system, by modifying or replacing certain critical system functions. Here’s how the crashes break down, according to Microsoft:
- 70% is due to third-party drivers (graphics, CPU, or peripheral driver);
- 10% is due to hardware (damaged RAM, for example);
- 5% are due to Microsoft code (bugs in Windows or some of its components);
- 15% are of unknown cause.
How to identify the cause of a blue screen?
When it appears, the Windows blue screen sometimes displays a code to help you locate the source of the problem, sometimes embellished with a QR code in recent versions of the system, even, in the best of cases case, the name of the software that caused a crash. This information is valuable, because it makes it possible to more or less precisely identify the origin of the problem and therefore to find a solution more or less easily.
Thus, if a piece of software is flagged as faulty, you should update or uninstall it first, as soon as Windows starts normally. In addition, to reduce the risk of a new blue screen, consider unplugging all unnecessary peripherals from the PC before restarting, especially if the crash follows the installation of new hardware that you have just connected to your PC.
Sometimes it is quite simple to understand the origin of the fatal error, when it follows a recent event:
- the installation of a new application (including security software) or a new hardware driver;
- more generally, the installation of new hardware or software;
- a Windows (KBxxxxxx) or driver update via Windows Update that is found to be buggy or incompatible;
- too many applications open simultaneously (an overload that leads to a performance crash and hover);
- insufficient free disk space (Microsoft recommends always leaving a minimum of 10-15% free disk space for a PC to function properly),
But other causes of crashes are sometimes less obvious to diagnose:
- a hardware failure involving, for example, the RAM or the disk on which the system is installed,
- the action of a malicious program.
Our different sections will help you discover the origin of the system crash, and the associated solutions.
And if you have absolutely no idea of the cause of the problem, or if you simply want to confirm it, use the Windows Reliability Monitor, a little-known tool integrated as standard in the Microsoft system which precisely allows you to analyze a posteriori which causes a crash, thanks to a timestamped event report. Consult our practical sheet to find out how to use this amazing control tool – which is only useful for monitoring, however, without fixing anything.
How to use the error code (Stop Code) of a blue screen?
When a blue screen occurs, it is always a good idea to note the stop code (also called Stop Code) when it is displayed by Windows. This code tells you what the problem is and lets you search the web. Beware, the blue screen is stealthy and appears without warning! You usually only have a few seconds to write this code down or take a picture of the screen with your smartphone. It also happens that the name of the offending driver program appears just below. Some crashes, alas, don’t provide a stop code or the name of the driver that caused the crash, making it more difficult – but not impossible – to fix the problem.
- If you haven’t had time to write down or photograph the information shown in the blue screen, see Analyze a memory dump after a BSOD.
- If shown on the blue screen, the stop code is either an English phrase such as CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED or a hex code in the form 0x0000003B. Here are some other common codes: SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED, IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL, VIDEO_TDR_TIMEOUT_DETECTED, PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA, SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION, DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION (see full list of messages and codes at the end of this article).
- A search for this error code on the web, for example on Microsoft’s online technical support, or in a search engine like Google or Bing, will enlighten you on the possible causes of the crash, and how to fix it. ‘remediate. Often by uninstalling or updating the offending program.
- If the crash occurs right after the installation of software or hardware and its driver, or after a Windows update, check for conscience the meaning of the code as shown below, then proceed to this step to return to an earlier situation.
- With your usual web browser, go toMicrosoft Technical Support, type the error code in the input field and perform a search.
- Hopefully, the list of results will point you to what to do or a help page to consult.
- If not, search for the error code in a Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo or Qwant search engine. In the list of Web pages corresponding to your request, favor those on Microsoft sites. If none match, try the web pages of technical sites and support forums, on CommentÇaMarche or other sites in French.
- Of course, if the blue screen tells you the name of the offending driver, do a web search, followed by the word BSOD, for example, to see how other Internet users got away with it.
- In the Google results list, also use the date of update indicated for most pages. Newer pages have a better chance of providing you with relevant information.
- If this search does not bring you a relevant solution, refer to the section Repair Windows using Microsoft’s online wizard.
In some cases, the blue screen of Windows also displays a QR Code (illustration below), which you can photograph with your smartphone and which will send you to the website mentioned in full in the blue screen.
- If you want to photograph the QR Code to go directly to the Microsoft help page: open the Camera app on your Android smartphone or iPhone, aim at the screen of the computer as if you wanted to photograph it, the app detects a QR Code and offers to send you back to the website. Touch the message to view the website in your browser. Nothing obliges you to take such a photo of the QR Code, you can simply type the address indicated in your Internet browser!
- If you do not use the photographed QR Code: on the offending computer after restarting, or on another computer, or on a smartphone or touch pad, in the Internet browser (Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox… ), go to the Stop Codes page on the Microsoft support site or type the following address: https://windows.com/stopcode .
- Microsoft will always direct you to a short, easy-to-verify web address on one of its sites, such as windows.com/blablabla or microsoft.com/blablabla strong>. li>
How to fix Windows after blue screen with Microsoft online assistant?
Microsoft’s Mini Online Assistant can be found at https://windows.com/stopcode. You can view this web page on the computer that produced the blue screen, if Windows agrees to restart, or on another computer, or even on your Apple or Android phone or tablet. The manipulations will of course be carried out on the PC that has crashed.
At the bottom of this Resolve Blue Screen Errors page, follow the instructions by answering the question in Step 1: When did- did you get the error? – yes, it is very familiar…
Note that the English/French translation of this web page is confusing: in step 1, when Microsoft Assistant talks about an update, it means “an update of Windows”, not your other software or your peripheral drivers (printer, webcam, etc.). Similarly, when the assistant then mentions “your device” or “your peripheral”, understand “your computer”.
If in step 1 you choose “After installing an update”, the page wizard https://windows.com/stopcode< /span> will explain:
If in step 1 you choose “While using my device”, the page wizard https://windows.com/stopcode will explain:
- How to restart Windows in safe mode, with or without network support. You can also refer to our fact sheet Restart in safe mode, which is much more complete.
- How to view the list of installed applications in Windows and uninstall software, such as antivirus or security software. Also refer to our practical sheet Delete an application in Windows.
- How to restore, disable or uninstall drivers. Also refer to our more comprehensive how-to sheet: Windows drivers, how to update drivers, which explains in particular how to revert to an old version of a device driver .
If the blue screen occurs shortly after installing new hardware or software, or updating a device driver, for example, you’re probably at fault. If you can access Windows again after a reboot, follow these steps.
- Our practical sheet Windows drivers, how to update drivers explains in particular how to obtain the latest version of a driver, or on the contrary how to revert to the previous version of ‘a device driver.
- If you want to uninstall a driver, open Windows Device Manager by right-clicking on the Start menu…
- … In Device Manager, right-click the driver and choose Uninstall Device.
- You can also turn to a utility to install on your computer, such as DriversCloud.com, which checks online all the drivers installed on your hard drive in order to update, if necessary.
- On the web, DriversCloud.com also offers you an analysis of BSOD blue screens to help pinpoint the causes.
- Finally, it is possible that the manufacturer of your computer has updated certain drivers and system software, for example the Bios/UEFI of the PC’s motherboard, programs whose update is not offered to you by the previous methods. Go to the manufacturer’s website, section Support or Assistance, indicate the exact reference of your computer and check if there are software and drivers to download.< /li>
- The manufacturer sometimes tells you the urgency of the update, like here on the Dell site, and will give you instructions to update your PC anyway.
During the occurrence of a blue screen, if you have not modified the default Windows settings, the system copies all or part of the contents of the computer’s RAM to a file on the hard disk. computer at the time of the crash. This file is called a memory dump. It helps computer scientists understand the causes of a crash when writing programs. But you don’t need to be an expert to extract useful information from this dump, in particular the error code (stop code) generated by Windows, and perhaps even the name of the faulty driver.
- After restarting the computer, download a version of the BlueScreenView software at the bottom of this page. For example this version, which does not require installation: just unzip the zip file and run the program BlueScreenView.exe.
- If both panels of BlueScreenView do not display any information, in a Windows File Explorer window, navigate to the C:\Windows folder and locate the MEMORY file .DMP. Drag it to the top panel of the BlueScreenView app (in the area showing Dump File).
- The Bug Check String column tells you the error code for each crash referenced in the top list. The Caused By Driver column possibly tells you the name of the driver that caused the crash. But there may not be one like in the example below, or the memory dump may wrongly mention the driver ntoskrnl.exe (in this case< strong>, ignore it).
- If you select a crash from the top list, the bottom panel will in some cases show you the names of the affected files and drivers. You can also right-click on a crash and choose Google Search – Bug Check+Driver. In a tab of your web browser, Google then lists the pages corresponding to this error code and to the possible driver mentioned.
A full hard drive or SSD that prevents Windows from working properly, damaged sectors that make it impossible to read system files… your computer’s storage can also be the cause of the crash and screen blue.
- To check if the hard drive has enough free space, open File Explorer and look at the gauge of drive C, which most likely has Windows installed. If this gauge is not blue, and a fortiori red, it means that disk space is low. Refer to this how-to to free up Windows disk space.
- If you suspect a damaged disk, see our how-to scan and repair your disks with ChkDsk.
If the error code alerts you to a hardware problem that could be related to the RAM of the PC, of the type MEMORY_MANAGEMENT, here is how to run a test of the RAM or RAM (Random Access Memory) with the tool provided by Windows, after restarting the PC.
If the tool tells you that there are indeed errors, you will have to replace the memory modules of the computer – if they are not soldered directly on the motherboard… – following the advice of the technical support of the manufacturer of your laptop or desktop PC.
- If after the blue screen, Windows restarts: In the lower left corner of the screen, click the magnifying glass or the Start menu and type Windows Memory Diagnostic. Click on this proposition when it appears as a Best bet proposition.
- A window will appear giving you two options: choose Restart now.
- If, after the blue screen, Windows does not restart properly: bring up the Windows Recovery Screen using one of the methods explained in this sheet. Then choose the option Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, then Command Prompt.
- In the black window that appears, type mdsched and press the Enter key.
- If Windows was running, it closes. Then the PC restarts and Windows Memory Diagnostic starts…
- It will let you know after a few minutes if a problem has been detected.
- If Windows restarts, you can also watch for a message in the lower right corner of the screen.
- If you haven’t had time to see this message,type the two keys Win+R anywhere in Windows, then enter eventvwr and press OK.
- The Event Viewer appears. Left-click Windows Logs > System. Locate the source MemoryDiagnostics-Results in the list and read the memory test result below.
A malicious program may be causing your computer to crash. There are many solutions online or to install on your PC to scan RAM and disks for viruses. Here is a simple method with the program provided by Microsoft.
- This how-to sheet tells you how to remove malware and adware in Windows with the Microsoft Safety Scanner tool.
Whether Windows displays a blue or all black or all white screen – it doesn’t matter what color – if the crash recurs regularly, you will need to find a solution! In the case of a black or white screen, other avenues should be explored.
- On the Web, a Microsoft wizard asks you some questions and offers you many solutions following the PC freezes with a black screen or a white screen.
- Also refer to our practical sheet to find solutions when your PC displays a black screen.
If, despite your best efforts, the blue screens follow one another without you finding the cause, a restoration, an update or a complete reinstallation of Windows is required. Gradually test the following different solutions, which will not all have the same effect depending on the actual cause of the crsh. From experience, we have already encountered inexplicable blue screens on new and up-to-date PCs: the only effective technique was to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch, reformatting the system disk – and thus erasing all its contents after backing up personal files . Everything worked perfectly afterwards, without ever seeing the slightest blue screen again. Proof that the problems came from the applications installed as standard by the manufacturers (bloatware as they are called).
The complete list of Windows stop-codes
Error messages and stop codes that appear on Windows blue screens are taken from a large inventory made by Microsoft which you can find on this page. Here is the complete list, organized in alphabetical order of the messages, with their specific stop code. Click a message title to view Microsoft documentation for the error.
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