Blue Screen of Death on Windows 7

Category: Windows-7

Windows 7 is the most stable version of the operating system to date. Still, it's not unheard of to see the dreaded Blue Screen of Death suddenly pop up. It's a serious warning of a major problem in your system and should not be ignored. Here's what to do if you encounter the Blue Screen of Death on Windows 7...

Fixing the Blue Screen of Death on Windows 7

Technically, the Blue Screen of Death is known as a "stop error." Windows brings everything to a complete, sudden stop "to prevent damage to your computer." The cause of a stop error may lie in hardware or software, and it can be very difficult to track down. Here are a few guidelines to debugging the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) on Windows 7.

An overheated CPU can cause a BSOD error. If your cooling fan is running constantly, you may need to take steps to cool things down inside of your computer case. Blow out dust. Replace heat sink thermal grease. If the cooling fan does not spin freely, install a new one or lubricate the bearing. Laptops may benefit from a lap pad designed to circulate cool air beneath the laptop.

Bad RAM can cause the Blue Screen of Death error. Run the memory check diagnostic routine available on the Win7 Startup Options menu. Press F8 during bootup to bring up the menu.
BSOD Windows 7

Other hardware errors are difficult for consumers to diagnose. You may need to have a qualified service rep run diagnostics on your computer.

Software errors that cause a BSOD can occur when Windows 7 does not shut down properly. Loss of power during shutdown is the most common cause of such errors. Using System Restore to restore your Windows settings to an earlier configuration may resolve a BSOD problem. (Click the Start button, type System Restore, then press Enter.)

More BSOD Fix Options

Check the Windows 7 Action Center to see if there are any unresolved configuration errors. Open the Start menu and type "action center" in the search box. Click on Action Center to open it and review any issues.

Outdated software drivers are a common cause of Blue Screen of Death errors. Running Windows Update will scan your computer and download updated drivers from many major vendors. Third-party driver updaters such as Driver Detective may do a more thorough job.

Hard disk errors may cause a BSOD error. Run the error-checking tool on your boot drive's Properties page to find and fix errors. It's also a good idea to defragment hard drives regularly to minimize errors. See my related article Windows 7 Hard Drive Errors for more help with this.

When all else fails to cure a recurring Blue Screen of Death, you may have to take the machine to a service center or ship it to the manufacturer for diagnosis and repair. Hopefully, the machine is still under warranty as this can be expensive. Be sure to make backup copies of all essential data before sending the machine in for repairs, and delete any sensitive data from the hard drive before turning it over to strangers.

Have you experienced the BSOD on a Windows 7 computer? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Blue Screen of Death on Windows 7"

(See all 25 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

16 Mar 2011

I have tried to find a comprehensive list of BSOD errors and their meaning, but have been unable to locate one. Apparently Sun Microsystems once had one in PDF form, but Oracle has taken it off the site. Do you know of such a list?

Posted by:

Stan Koper
16 Mar 2011

I experienced a BSOD with windows 7 (Ultimate X64), an upgrade from Vista Ultimate x64). Someone recommended a free utility, BlueScreenView. That one tells me that the error message was PEN_LIST_CORRUPT, with ntoskrnl.exe, which a number of people commenting on that type of error message said might be a memory problem. Second choice was a driver problem. I have an Nvidia X1800 card, and I had recently upgraded the driver, so I dropped back to an earlier version. No issues since (knock on wood).

Posted by:

David W Solomons
17 Mar 2011

My Win 7 was prone to fairly frequent BSODs for a few months in 2010 until the manufacturer admitted that the probable cause was incompatible memory chips (Corsair chips with Asus motherboard - they had been arguing the case with Asus for some time and finally came to that conclusion. A change to other generic chips - I forget the make but will find out if you are interested - resolved the problem). I have since received just one completely unconnected BSOD a few weeks ago, but this has not recurred so I'm hoping it was due to some software that I have since uninstalled!

Posted by:

David W Solomons
17 Mar 2011

PS regarding your comment on Driver Detective, I have found SlimDrivers to be very effective and totally free :-)

Posted by:

18 Mar 2011

Are you serious? Driver Detective? How much did they or do they pay you for that mention? You don't even mention human reason!???

EDITOR'S NOTE: Disclosure: $0.00

Posted by:

25 Mar 2011

Here is a website that seems to have a very good list of stop errors:

Posted by:

25 Mar 2011

Almost 100% of HP i7 chip ownwers with constant Blue Screens of Death are caused by bad Truckee motherboards. Check their user blog.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2011

I have not had much with Win 7, but have had a lot of experience with HPs in general, and I have found many a bad factory image. Restoring from the restore partition does the trick every time.

Posted by:

C Staples
26 Mar 2011

Well I don't understand. I click on start menu and type action centre and it pops up a pdf file from my desktop? duh?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Perhaps it has something to do with running an Australian version of Windows? Here is an alternate way to do it:

Posted by:

28 Mar 2011

Ask Bob Rakin? I don't think so! I would never ask a man who runs his auto-updates on auto-pilot and accepts every that Mictrosoft foists upon him.

I can never understand the mentality of people who give Microsoft god-like status and obey at all costs and never questions the complete and utter shoddy rubbish that they sometimes foist upon you. Would I trust my PC to such a man? Not in a million years.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Neil, it's fine to have a bias. But an angry, spiteful bias is almost always counter-productive. I can tell you this: millions of Windows users do exactly as I recommend (updates on auto-pilot) and do not experience any problems as a result. The alternative is FAR scarier... a world where naive users are left to decide which updates they should apply.

Posted by:

29 Mar 2011

I have a HP i7 Windows 7 machine and I've been having the BSOD regularly. I have restored the system but that didn't help. It seems that if you would do the Windows7 restore it would know if all windows programs were correct! Then windows should have a way to determine what is going wrong if it wasn't hardware and which program is causing the problem. Looking at the event log I haven't been able to figure it out. I've ran all the hardware tests and they never fail. HP has been no help all they want me to do is reinstall the operating system.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you can save the BSOD error numbers, that might help.

Posted by:

second dock
30 Mar 2011

I always set my Windows 7 updates to auto-pilot (just important updates, not optional ones) and I have always been satisfied. How can you decide which important updates are not necessary? I think Microsoft geeks know it better. And one more thing: hackers are always there. Is it not better to fix holes as soon as possible?
And about Microsoft being bad: I do not consider Microsoft as a god but are you sure Apple OS and Linux are saints and want to rescue the world from devil Microsoft? I really doubt !!

Posted by:

Samuel G
31 Mar 2011

I have a Core i7 HP Pavilion laptop with Windows 7 and every time I update the nVidia display driver, I have major or minor problems. I always have to rollback the driver.

Posted by:

05 Apr 2011

BSODs may also appear if you use optimizer programs that go too far in deleting everything that appears to be unnecessary. Instead, use just ONE comprehensive optimizer with good reputation like WinUtilities ( and paid versions) or TuneUp Utilities ( (paid version only with 15-day trial download).
This Microsoft TechNet article also gives a little of information about demystifying BSODs:

Posted by:

11 Apr 2011

Get apple they don't get these problems.

Posted by:

Samuel G
13 Apr 2011

PS: the latest display driver installed AFTER all important Windows 7 updates (including SP1) and no problems so far

Posted by:

14 Apr 2011

I have this problem when trying to open a file in office 97.

Posted by:

15 Aug 2011

@ guys with Intel/Nvidia hardware:

Check your computer's temperatures.

Posted by:

14 Jan 2012

My Windows 7 Vista running on Toshiba Satellite laptop -- three times in the last 2 weeks the screen has gone black and the machine is unresponsive. During these events I was (1) nowhere near the computer; (2) running a backup; and (3) watching a YouTube video. Shutting off the computer and restarting it causes it to restart normally; however, it has lost my passwords for Facebook and another website to which I was signed in. I received this computer from my brother in law who said that it has never done this in the time he had it. Any ideas?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Random glitches like that usually point to a failing hardware component. Could be the RAM memory, or power supply. Also possibly an overheating condition. See

Posted by:

11 Oct 2012

Similar to Kate, running Windows7, I was getting blue screen notification on automatic restarts of my HP laptop's dump. I vacuumed the vents on the bottom and it has been fine for a week.

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