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Behind the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)

Introduction:

When your computer suddenly stops functioning and shows you a blue screen with an error message this usually sends panic to most users. In this tutorial I will attempt to explain why this has happened and what you can do to troubleshoot the error.

<>The Kernel:

When working in a Windows operating system, there is a core piece of software that is designed to control all of the hardware operation within the system called the "Kernel". When the Kernel finds a problem in the system it will shut down the operation of the hardware to a bare minimum and take a picture of the exact location that it found to be the problem. It then displays this error information on a pre-defined "Blue Screen". At this point, the system is not useable because the Kernel has shut operations down to avoid further damage.
Blue Screen Errors also known as STOP errors can be caused from any of the following:

  • Bad memory module
  • Poorly written device drivers
  • Corrupt Windows Registry
  • Incompatible DLL File
When faced with a blue screen, many attempt to copy and paste the information and become frustrated when they find that they are not able to do so. As I have stated above, the Kernel handles all of your hardware operation, so your mouse, keyboard, printer and so on, will not function. You will either need to write the information down on a piece of paper or take a picture of the screen with a digital camera. You will at least have the information to use for troubleshooting or show to a capable technician so that they can fix the problem. <>Troubleshooting The Error:

In most cases, a simple reboot of the operating system will allow users to gain access to their operating system again. Until the error has been fixed, you will be faced with another blue screen once the Kernel happens upon the unrecoverable error. There are a few things that you can do to get help for this error:
  • Type the error message in to the search engine of your choice to see if there is a fix available.
  • Sign-in to a newsgroup or computer help forum and post the error message in there to see if you can get any feedback on the error.
  • Take the computer to a repair shop.

For those of you that are reading this tutorial and did not save the error message in any way. There is a way to find the information in your operating system. Here's how:

<>Windows Debugging Tools for Windows Vista, XP, 2000 and NT:

To gain access to the error message you will need to download a free Windows Debugging Tool that can access the memory dump where the information resides. The link below will take you to Microsoft's web site where you can download the tool for your version and architecture (32 bit, 64 bit):
Note: Vista users, please read below before downloading the debugging tool.

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devtools/debugging/default.mspx

The debugging tool will automatically install to your system in the Program Files folder. To use this tool follow the instructions outlined in the Microsoft Knowledgebase Article below:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315263

If you are using Windows Vista, there is a much simpler method available to you:

  1. Go to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Select Problem Reports and Solutions
From here, you will be able to see the error message that was displayed in your blue screen and view possible solutions that Microsoft has already identified regarding your particular error. <>CHKDSK Tool:

Depending on the cause of the error, a tool that can be helpful in resolving these issues is the CHKDSK tool. CHKDSK has the ability to check your hard disk for errors and automatically fix them. We have written a tips for using CHKDSK which you can access by clicking the links below:

Check your hard disk for errors (Vista)
Detect and Repairing Disk Errors (XP)


If we can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail or register at our Free Computer Help Forums.


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