The Fatal Exception, Stop error, or Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) is a prevalent system error that occurs in various computers running on Windows platform including the latest Windows 10 OS. As the name implies, this error is represented by a blue screen along with a series of error messages and codes, pertaining to an internal system glitch. As a result the computer system stops, crashes, and sometimes, freezes on the same screen.
Given the number of complaints raised by users of different Windows platforms who have been plagued with the BSOD syndrome, Microsoft has responded by implementing some sort of prior fixes to certain bug that is affecting the Windows system and causing the Blue Screen symptom. A notable improvement was perceived since the release of Windows Vista. Since then people have seen a drastic reduction in the number of Blue Screens incidence or Stop Errors. But then again, the problem did not vanish completely. As a matter of fact, BSOD error or stop error still manifests in the latest Windows 10 platform.
Why did this happen and what must be done in order to get it fixed? If you too have the same questions in mind, then this content might be able to give you the answer. Read on to learn more.
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What is Blue Screen of Death or Stop Error and what triggers this error to occur in Windows 10?
Blue screen of death is an error or condition that pertains to a system crash, system fault, kernel error or a Stop Error. The problem is also known as a “bug check.” Majority, if not all, Windows users are sure to have encountered this error at one point or another.
The usual occurrence of this error is during system start-up when the computer attempts to load the operating system. In other cases, it happens in an instant or randomly. When this occurs, you will see a blue screen along with error messages and codes describing what happens and the possible reasons as to why it occurs. It stays for a few seconds and then your computer, stops, crashes or reboots by itself.
In newer versions of Windows like Vista, Windows 7, 8 and 10, the BSOD problem is no longer depicted by a blue screen but rather by an error prompt saying that “Microsoft Windows Operating System is not responding.” In this case, users are given with two options — either to Close the program or Wait for the program to respond. If you hope for the program to fix the problem by itself, then you can click on the latter option. Otherwise, close the program and lose some information. Apparently, it appears to be more elegant than the old-style BSOD but still caused you the same trouble.
Usually error messages or error codes denote what went wrong and give you hint on what to work on so as to resolve the underlying cause. The standard format for a stop error or BSOD is comprised of three segments.
- The first segment contains symbolic error name or the stop error message given to the operating system. It corresponds to the Stop Error code that appears with the message.
- The second segment contains recommended troubleshooting methods you can try on.
- The third segment contains error number and parameters. This pertains to the bug check information, which is comprised of text, error number, hexadecimal codes, and up to four parameters following the word STOP.
In Windows 10, the blue screen of death problem can appear in two scenarios. The first is when booting Windows 10. In this scenario, you can access the desktop. The second scenario is when you are prompted with the BSOD error and it won’t let you boot into the desktop or get you stuck in boot loops.
The Blue Screen of Death can also happen due to some faulty Windows drivers or Windows update has gone wrong. Various factors can actually trigger your Windows computer to encounter the stop error or black screen of death. But all of them can be summed up in two main forms — either software or hardware problem.
Compared to Microsoft’s prior versions of Windows operating system, the latest Windows version 10 is deemed faster and more stable. But just like the previous Windows platforms, it’s also affected with the dreaded issue on BSOD or Stop Error. For some reasons, Windows devs still have failed to completely wipe out the bug that causing this fatal ‘stop error’ or blue screen error. Fortunately, there are a number of potential solutions and workaround you can use to deal with this system error.
Listed below are suggested workarounds and potential solutions you can try on. The best way to start is to determine the onset of the problem. In short, simply answer the question as to when you start getting the error. Did it occur during Windows update installation or while using your computer?
What to do when the stop error/BSOD error occurs after Windows update or device driver installation?
If you get the stop error after installing software update or driver on your computer, then a faulty update or driver is likely to blame. In this case, you can do any of the following:
Step 1. Restart and select the option to restore the system to a last known good configuration.
The right and safe way to restart a computer is usually done by tapping or clicking on the Start button and then select the option to Restart. However, there are some instances when the computer is frozen and unresponsive. In this case, you can restart using the Ctrl+Alt+Del keyboard shortcut. You will need to press all three keys simultaneously to open the shutdown dialog box. But if using that keyboard shortcut won’t work, then your last option is to reboot the computer by pressing the Power button until it’s powered off, wait for 30 seconds, and then press the Power button again to turn it back on.
Step 2. Boot your computer into Safe Mode.
Starting your Windows 10 computer in Safe Mode will help you troubleshoot and determine whether the BSOD error is triggered by recently installed drivers or programs. Only the core drivers and services are activated while in Safe Mode. So if the error does not occur while in Safe mode, then it denotes that the default settings and original device drivers are not the cause. In this case, you can try running Device Manager in safe mode and uninstalling the most likely suspect. Or you can also do a System Restore in Safe Mode.
There are two Safe Mode states you can boot into. You can boot your Windows 10 computer into the usual/standard safe mode or safe mode with networking. Starting your computer in the latter safe mode state will include network drivers and services that require access to the Internet and other computers in your network.
Here’s how to boot Windows 10 into safe mode:
- Simultaneously press the Windows logo key and the letter I on the keyboard. Doing so will open Settings. Alternatively, you can select the Start button located in the lower-left corner of the screen and then select Settings.
- Select Update & security.
- Click Recovery.
- Navigate to Advanced Startup.
- Select the option to Restart now.
- When you see the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot-> Advanced options-> Startup Settings-> Restart.
You will then see a list of options upon the restart.
- Select 4 or press F4 to boot your computer in Safe Mode.
- If you’ll need to use the Internet while in safe mode, select 5 or press F5 to boot your computer in Safe Mode with Networking.
You may then start to diagnose your computer and try to isolate whether the Stop or BSOD error is triggered by any of the default settings, programs or drivers. If the problem does not occur while in safe mode, it means your original drivers aren’t the cause. Proceed to the next step.
Step 3. Uninstall the most recent update you’ve installed.
If you can access the desktop, try uninstalling the latest update you’ve installed. Here’s what you can do:
- Get to the search box on the taskbar.
- On the search box, type View installed updates and then select View installed updates to continue.
- View the installation date by expanding the next window.
- Select the update that you want to uninstall.
- Select Uninstall to confirm action and initiate update deletion.
If the stop error or BSOD error is gone after you uninstall the update, then you can set your computer to temporarily block the update from automatically installing again.
Here’s how to it’s done:
- Open Device Manager by pressing and holding (or right-click) the lower-left corner of the desktop and then select Device Manager.
- Look for and right-click the device with a problematic driver installed, and then select Properties.
- If prompted with the Confirm Device Uninstall dialog box, select the option to Delete the driver software for this device, if available.
Computers that are running on the Windows 10 platform automatically receive frequent updates to obtain the latest features and fixes. System drivers are also installed automatically so that you will no longer have to choose which updates are necessary. However, there are times when a specific driver might temporarily trigger some issues to affect your device. To prevent such problems from re-occurring, you can restrict the problematic driver from re-installing automatically the next time Windows Updates are installed on your computer.
Step 4. Roll back a device driver.
If the blue screen of death or stop error occurs after updating a device driver, then most likely the new driver is to blame. In this case, rolling back a device driver can possibly fix it.
Follow these steps to roll back a device driver in Windows 10:
- Press and hold the lower-left corner of the desktop or right-click on it, then select Device Manager. Doing so will launch or open the Device Manager screen.
- Look for the device that has the problematic driver installed and then right-click on it.
- Select Properties to continue.
- Go to the Driver tab.
- Select the option to Roll Back Driver.
- To complete the process, restart the computer and see what happens afterwards.
Again, there are two possibilities as to why stop error or BSOD occurs on your computer. It may be due to some Windows drivers causing conflict or some Windows updates have gone wrong. Performing the above steps can be potential solution. But that is only possible if you can access the desktop.
What to do if BSOD reboot loop is preventing you from accessing the desktop?
Windows 10 will automatically route you to the Repair mode if you are stuck in a Blue Screen of Death reboot loop after several times. Proceed with these steps to fix the problem.
- While in Repair mode, you can use the System Restore facility.
- Click on System Restore.
- Select a date/period before the BSOD error occurs.
System Restore will then attempt to restore your computer to a prior time and the remove any changes made by Windows Update. Your files will not be affected in the process.
If the stop error or BSOD error begins after installing any hardware recently, shut down your computer and then remove the new hardware. After removing the new hardware, reboot your computer and then open Device Manager. If the hardware still appears in the list, uninstall it. Reboot your computer again to see if that has fixed the BSOD error.
Step 1. Use Driver Verifier Manager.
It’s a lesser known but powerful tool that is primarily designed to troubleshoot a buggy device driver that is likely causing the BSODs.
Here’s how to access this tool on your Windows computer.
- Type in “verifier” in the search bar and hit enter.
- Look for Verifier.exe from the list of search results.
- Select the option to Run As Administrator.
- While on the Driver Verifier Manager screen, select the option to Create Standard Settings.
- Next, select the type of drivers you want to verify or diagnose. In many cases, unsigned drivers are likely the cause as they are created for older versions of Windows.
- Click Next, until the process is complete.
- In rare occasions, the Driver Verifier Manager tool does find a non-conforming driver which may not be the culprit. That being said, extreme caution is required.
Step 2. Check the memory and hard disk.
Some cases of BSOD or stop errors are tied to memory issues like insufficient memory on the device. To make sure this is not causing you this trouble, you can use the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool to check the current status of your computer’s memory.
Here’s how to diagnose Windows 10 memory:
- Open the Control Panel.
- In the Search box, type in “memory.”
- Under Administrative Tools, click on Diagnose your computer’s memory problems. This will get you to the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool screen.
- Select one of the given options. You may opt to Restart now and check for problems or check for problems the next time you restart your computer. The first option is recommended.
You may choose when to run the memory diagnostics tool immediately or automatically when you restart Windows. Be sure to save your work and close all your running programs before making a selection.
To check for hard disk errors, follow these steps:
- Click on Computer.
- Right-click the disk drive that you want to check and then click Properties.
- Click the Tools tab.
- Under Error-checking, click Check now. Enter the administrator password or confirmation, if necessary.
- Choose any of the given options:
- Automatically fix file system errors – if you want your computer to automatically repair problems with files and folders detected by the scans.
- Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors – if you want to perform a thorough check. Using this method will trigger the system to attempt to find and repair physical errors on the drive itself. It can take much longer to complete.
- Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors – if you want the computer to check for both file errors and physical errors.
Step 3. Use Windows Recovery tools.
You can use any available Windows recovery tools to help you uninstalled or roll back software changes, repair Windows start-up files, and restore Windows OS from an earlier backup if necessary.
If that won’t work either, then you may consider re-formatting hard disk or re-install Windows 10 on your computer.
Important Note: All programs you’ve installed will then be deleted and the default Windows settings will be restored. So be sure to back them up before you start.
You will also need to use the original installation discs or files to reinstall programs you’ve installed.
Step 4. Diagnose the hardware system.
As mentioned earlier, stop errors, blue screen or black screen errors can be caused by both hardware and software issues.
If the above-listed workarounds have failed to fix the problem and your Windows 10 is still stuck at BSOD, then you can proceed with hardware check. At this point, it’s possible that some damaged components like hard disks, defective physical RAM, or overheated CPU chips do exist and trigger the stop/BSOD error to occur.
Take note of the error code as they can tell you which hardware component is damaged and how to get it fixed.
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