OH NO… It’s the Blue Screen of Death (Windows 10)

Category: Windows-10

Fans of Windows XP may differ, but I believe that Windows 10 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 usually a 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 10…

Fixing the Blue Screen of Death on Windows 10

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 10.

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. (See my article Do You Know Your Computer's Worst Enemy? for more tips on dealing with overheating.)

Bad RAM memory can cause the Blue Screen of Death error. You can run the Windows 10 memory check diagnostic routine to check your system memory. Close any open files or programs, click the Start button, type mdsched.exe and press Enter. Next, click "Restart now and check for problems". Your computer will restart and run the memory diagnostic. The results of the test will be in the Windows Event Viewer.

BSOD Windows 10

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 magnetic hard drives regularly to minimize errors. Note that solid-state (SSD) drives don’t need to be defragged. See my related articles [CAUTION] Hard Drive Makes a Clicking Sound? and [FREE] Tools to Tune and Optimize Your Hard Drive for more help with this.

Software errors that cause a BSOD can occur when Windows 10 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. See my article Try System Restore for Windows 10 to learn more about System Restore.

More BSOD Fix Options

Check the Security and Maintenance Center to see if there are any known problems or unresolved configuration errors. Click Start and type "Security and Maintenance" in the search box, then press Enter. Under the Maintenance heading, there's a link to "View reliability history". You'll be able to see if any software or system components have been malfunctioning.

Finally, Windows 10 has a Reset option that may help to resolve a Blue Screen error. See my article [RESET BUTTON] Restore Your PC To Factory Defaults?. A Reset will install a fresh copy of the Windows operating system, while keeping all your personal files intact.

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.

One final note: Windows 10 may automatically restart after a BSOD. It can be hard to diagnose the error message on screen because the restart can happen before you get a chance to read it. I recommend disabling this setting. To do so, click the Windows button, type advanced system settings and press Enter. Click the Settings button in the Startup and Recovery section. Remove the check mark next to Automatically restart, and click OK. You’ll need to restart your computer for this to take effect.

Have you experienced the BSOD on a Windows 10 computer? Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "OH NO… It’s the Blue Screen of Death (Windows 10)"

Posted by:

22 Apr 2021

Bob, I agree with you about the Windows 10 stability. I haven't had a BSOD in years, certainly not since Windows 10. And Windows 10 is better about plug and play than any previous version. You rarely have to install any device drivers, Win 10 does it automatically in most cases.

Posted by:

Arh Ess
22 Apr 2021

Having never experienced the BSOD, I have to ask: how does one get out of it to access the fixes? That is, assuming the comp. does not restart?

Posted by:

22 Apr 2021

The most useful utility for analyzing the BSOD is the Nirsoft utility of BlueScreenView, found at https://www.nirsoft.net/utils/blue_screen_view.html.

Posted by:

22 Apr 2021

You are correct, this fan of XP definitely disagrees on Win10 being superior to XP in any way.

Posted by:

22 Apr 2021

I was having a BSOD for a while on my laptop, because there was some software update that knocked out the functionality of my webcam, so every time I'd try to use my webcam I'd get the BSOD. I searched all over the Internet before I finally found a fix. I had to use a generic driver or some such thing. Whatever, it worked, and I haven't had that issue since.

Posted by:

Elaine Ness
22 Apr 2021

Oh, such a tale I have of this: the short and sweet version. I bought a desktop computer from an acquaintance in another city far from me. She had it built by a guy but did not have the product key. She called him for it. I bought it. It was slow to load but she had not noticed that since her laptop is slow also. When it was delivered by transport, the screen had the watermark to "activate windows." (Why had he not done that??) I could use it but had little loaded while I waited for delivery of a new Ethernet cable from the U.S.(I live in Ecuador.) I tried to activate it but the product key did not work. Then, after a few weeks, I got the deadly blue screen. 'No OS system associated with...' was the basic message. I had no recovery flash drive. A local tech was able to activate windows and also found the builder had installed a win 7 processor from 2011. Only after the fact did the seller tell me she thought the guy was shady. Duh. It is my second computer and it will always be a slow machine but I use it only for writing not surfing. I made a recovery flash drive.

Posted by:

22 Apr 2021

As others suggest, drivers can also seem to cause it on Win10. Some things never go away and driver rot is one of them.

Posted by:

22 Apr 2021

Almost every BSOD I’ve ever experienced has been related to a driver issue. Researching the error code and updating to a different driver has fixed the issue for me when it has occurred. Fortunately, BSOD error are few and far between these days on my Windows machine (running 10.)

Posted by:

22 Apr 2021

I thought Win 10 handled all of the defrag necessary on spinning hard drive?

Has some new information on this slipped past me?

Posted by:

22 Apr 2021

Duane: Correct. By default, Windows 10 defrags hard disks (or "optimizes" for SSDs)once a week.

Posted by:

Kathleen A Dombrowski
22 Apr 2021

Hi Bob, This is my go-to when ALL ELSE FAILS. If the system has important docs. or priceless pictures not backed up to the cloud. Remove the HDD put it in a USB enclosure or other type of setup and have a look see, if I find anything important it gets saved. Next I put the HDD back in and do a clean install of Windows. When finished checking for updates etc. I head on over to device manager and look for drivers that might need updating. There have been some hardware problems that I found and resolved. Otherwise this has always worked for me. Since 2002 I do a clean install on all of my PC's and Laptops yearly, it's a pain but avoids many issues.

Posted by:

23 Apr 2021

For the past several months my Windows 10 installation has been experiencing BSOD's or a sudden shutdown without even the "courtesy" of the BSOD - almost daily initially and "only" about 2x or 3x a week more recently. When that happens the system restarts without any intervention by me and runs apparently flawlessly until the next event. The most painful part of the problem is that in the earlier phases, rebooting took 7 to 9 hours - really! - and now that has "improved" to 4 or 5. Then, after rebooting it can run perfectly for several days. No one has been able to determine for certain whether the cause is software or hardware but the HDD is about to be replaced with a SSD. I hope that resolves the problem.

Posted by:

Russell Baldwin
23 Apr 2021

ob has a great list of things to look for. A big culprit can be a failing power supply. Electronics can be fickle things depending on temperatures, so Bob's spot on when he says to check cooling systems, what ever form they may be. I have an older laptop that has a great screen, but not so latest processor. It is showing signs of heat stress, so time to clean etc. if I want to keep using it. I upgraded from win7 to win10 and before having heat issues, it was running better than I ever expected it to. Been years, since win98 that I have seen the BSOD... Personally, I think win10 overall is the best version so far. It may not be perfect, but to me it seems to have fundamental advantages for old and new computers alike. Great article Bob, Thanks!

Posted by:

Wild Bill
24 Apr 2021

Oiling fan bearings is only a temporary solution. On
older motherboards and power supplies failing capacitors are a common issue, especially from XP days. If you are using a desktop, removing the side panel will allow inspection of on-board capacitors: a capacitor whose top is bulging upward is a sign of trouble. Especially in laptops, heat can be an issue. The fans blow air through a small heat exchanger and when it is clogged with dust and whatall, the fan starts running more often, then shutdowns start to occur. All said, I must agree with Bob: over 20 years of playing with Windows, 10 is now the best. RIP XP.

Posted by:

26 Apr 2021

Thank you for another great topic coverage.
Before proceeding w/the recommended "One final note" of Remove the check mark next to 'Automatically restart' using the 'AdvancedSystemSettings'; it may be wise to view the crash-logs, either with the Win10 built-in 'EventViewer' or the 'ReliabilityMonitor'. The semi-cryptic logs may provide telltale signs of the root-cause(s) of the crash/BSOD.

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