What is Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)? (Causes & Fixes)

What is Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)?

A Blue Screen of Death or BSoD, officially means the blue screen error or stop error that you may see on your computer screen. This is actually an error screen displayed by the Windows operating system under specific conditions such as a fatal system error.

Fatal as it is said but there is nothing to bang your head against the wall when you see the Blue Screen of Death error code because there are ways in which you can fix it and also prevent it from being displayed.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Blue Screen of Death is actually the system error screen in Microsoft Windows operating system that signifies system conflicts or a system crash.
  • This error message shown on a blue screen is basically an alert signal to avert further damages to the system. Everything will stop when this message is displayed.
  • Apart from the actual error, the message also informs about the current debug status of the kernel, the memory modules loaded as well as the unloaded ones.
  • Triggered by the software and hardware, such a situation can be resolved by removing old and installing clean and new software updates and looking for support from the developer.

Understanding Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)

What is Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)

Ideally, most people think that a Blue Screen of Death error code indicates a system crash. Well, it is true in parts.

A Blue Screen of Death error code indicates that the operating system cannot operate safely any longer having reached a serious condition.

Such situations may result in hardware failure or an unanticipated termination of an ongoing and crucial process.

There are lots of other interesting things about Blue Screen of Death error codes to know.

Ideally, the Microsoft Windows operating system error screen, Blue Screen of Death, is displayed simply to point out system conflicts.

It also points towards a potential for a system crash.

The name, Blue Screen of Death, is quite meaningful and is given because the stop error message is displayed on a blue screen.

The Blue Screen of Death error screen or code is actually an alert signal for the user to ward off any further damages to the computer system.

No matter what the reason is, a Blue Screen of Death error will freeze Windows and you will need to reboot the system in order to continue to use it.

The good news is that the Blue Screen of Death issue has become less frequent now as it was in the past.

This is because the operating systems today are designed in such a way that they can deal with such issues or errors themselves without causing any interruption of hindrances in the operation.

History

Historically, it is from the beta version of Windows 1.0 that the Blue Screen of Death error codes have been around.

If a newer DOS version was found by Windows than it expected, it typically generated a blue screen before it started normally with a text or message saying ‘Incorrect DOS version.’

When the version 1.01 was finally released, the Blue Screen of Death however printed random characters.

This was the result of the bugs that were present in the Windows logo code.

However, this was not a crash screen and instead, upon crashing, the Windows 1.0 either departed to Disk Operating System or DOS or got locked up.

However, in the Windows 3.0 versions a text-mode screen was used to display the vital system messages.

These messages were displayed more often than not from digital device drivers that were in 386 Enhanced Mode or when the programs could not run for some specific conditions.

All these times, the messages were displayed on a black screen. However, in and from Windows 3.1, the color of the screen was changed from black to blue.

This specific version of Windows also displayed a blue screen when the combination of Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys was pressed by the users when programs were responsive.

However, as it was with the previous versions of Windows, the Windows 3.x also left to DOS if the error condition was found to be quite severe.

With the changes being made continually, the Blue Screen of Death error codes made their first appearance with Windows NT 3.1 released in 1993 which is considered to be the first version of the Windows NT family.

Subsequently, all other versions of Windows operating systems were released then after.

In its initial version, the Blue Screen of Death error code started with ***STOP: and that is why it is also referred to as the ‘stop error.’

Formats and Colors

The original Blue Screen of Death error code had a royal blue background and silver text on it about the information regarding the register values and current memory values.

However, it adopted a cerulean background with the release of Windows Server 2012.

As for the Windows 11 version, the background was still black but after the build number 22000.348, the background was changed into blue.

However, if you look at the preview builds of Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server you will see that it did not feature the usual blue background. Instead, it was dark green in color.

Previous Windows versions such as Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and Windows 98 allowed modifying the color of the screen but since the Windows NT or New Technology family, it is hard-coded.

As for the text mode of the message of the Blue Screen of Death error codes, it was displayed in different modes in different versions such as:

  • In 80 x 25 text mode in Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME or Millennium Edition
  • In 80 x 50 text mode in the Windows NT family initially
  • In the kernel mode font built in was used in Windows 2000
  • In the Lucida Console font in the Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 version and
  • The Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 versions use the Segoe UI font.

As for the resolution of the Blue Screen of Death it also differed in different versions such as:

  • In the Windows NT version, the text was displayed on a 720 × 400 screen
  • In the Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 versions the text was displayed with a 640 × 480 screen resolution and
  • On legacy Basic Input Output System or BIOS machines, the text is displayed at the 1024 × 768 screen resolution by default.

The resolutions in the BIOS machines could also be configured to use the highest resolution possible by using the ‘highest mode’ parameter in Boot Configuration Data.

On the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface or UEFI machines, the text of the Blue Screen of Death error code was displayed in the maximum screen resolution existing.

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However, the 1607 version or later of the Windows 10 uses the similar format as the Windows 8 but there is a QR code in it which directs the users to the web page of Microsoft Support when they want to troubleshoot any issue and want to know the necessary steps.

The Meaning

Now you may want to know why this specific error is called the Blue Screen of Death error code.

Scary and worrisome as it may sound, the phrase does not necessarily refer to the ‘death’ of the computer.

Therefore, do not think that your computer is dead when you receive this error message and start making arrangements to buy a new computer.

However, the Blue Screen of Death error code does certainly mean a few things that you should also know about.

First of all, it means that everything will stop when you receive this message, especially the operating system.

The worst part is that you will not be able to go and save your data by ‘closing’ the error.

You will even not be able to reset your computer as well in a proper way.

It will seem that everything is over, well, at least for the moment, and has to stop. So, now you know where the term ‘stop error’ comes from!

Apart from that, in almost all of the cases, the Blue Screen of Death error code also means that there is quite a serious problem.

This problem is needed to be rectified before you can use your computer system once again, normally. Usually, the Blue Screen of Death error messages will appear during the start-up process of Windows.

This means that you will not be able to bypass it unless you get the problem resolved.

There can be other times as well when you may receive the Blue Screen of Death error message in the course of using your computer system.

However, in such situations you will find that the issue is much easier to get rectified.

Components

You will see that there are four major components in the Blue Screen of Death error message. These are:

  • The actual error message
  • The existing kernel debug status
  • The loaded memory modules and
  • The unloaded modules without any errors.

Also the Blue Screen of Death error codes will include the troubleshooting tips as well as the allied driver data which will be displayed in the form of hexadecimal values as well as in a textual form.

This data is very important and you are recommended to make a note of it before you reboot your computer system.

This is as important as undoing recent software and hardware upgrades and verifying the proper hardware installation before rebooting the system.

Apart from that the Blue Screen of Death error codes also comprise memory dumps.

Typically, when a computer system crashes, all of the data stored in the system memory is then dumped and saved in a file in the hard drive that can be used for debugging.

However, Windows cannot recover from the kernel based errors and that is why the Blue Screen of Death error codes detail is displayed.

Reading the Codes

If you do not know how to read the Blue Screen of Death error codes, here are the steps to follow:

  • Go to the Start menu
  • Right click on ‘Computer’
  • Select ‘Manage’ to open the Computer Management window and
  • Select ‘Event Viewer’ in that window.

This event log data will isolate the cause of the Blue Screen of Death error.

Blue Screen of Death Examples

If you are lucky enough not to have encountered a Blue Screen of Death error message before you may not be aware of what it may look like.

However, this does not mean that it is zero percent likely to appear in the future.

If that happens, you will be left wondering when it is displayed.

Therefore, to make you fully aware of the Blue Screen of Death error codes here are a few examples of these codes along with their causes:

  • DIVIDE_BY_ZERO_ERROR – This crops up when an application attempts to divide by zero
  • IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL – This crops up when actual hardware and a buggy device driver conflict
  • KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED – This is the result of a device driver that is configured incorrectly
  • REGISTRY_ERROR – This indicates the system registry failure
  • INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE – This is the indication that the system is unable to read the hard disk
  • UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP – This error code indicates checking the Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor or CMOS for correct amount of Random Access Memory or RAM and Single Inline Memory Modules or SIMM for their type and speed
  • BAD_POOL_HEADER – This indicates the error is caused due to recent changes introduced and
  • NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM – This simply indicates there is corruption in the hard disk.

Remember, the file names of the Blue Screen of Death error codes, which are denoted as .SYS extensions, will indicate the source of the BSoD error. If you cannot locate this file name you may use the driver update tool to find it.

Also download, reinstall, and update the device drivers to ensure seamless functionality.

This is very important because in most of the cases the Blue Screen of Death errors are typically related to and are a result of the archaic device drivers.

Blue Screen of Death Causes and Solutions

Blue Screen of Death errors mostly result from a hardware failure, system crash, or a driver problem.

There are also a few other likely causes of Blue Screen of Death errors that are listed and explained below.

This specific situation is related to the hardware of the system or even the temperature inside.

Any virus or a corrupt registry may also result in a Blue Screen of Death error just as timing and resources deficits.

These errors can also crop up when:

  • A device driver is poorly written
  • There is a faulty memory
  • There is a faulty Hard Disk Drive or Solid State Drive
  • There is a faulty motherboard
  • There is a faulty processor
  • The Power Supply Unit or PSU is faulty
  • There are power supply issues
  • There is malware infection that results in the damage of system files or MBR or Master Boot Record
  • There is BCD or Boot Configuration Data errors
  • The components overheat due to overburdened hardware, dust and faulty fans and
  • The hardware runs beyond its specific limits.

However, in the Windows 9x, the Blue Screen of Death errors are much more common due to the absence of memory protection and instability, bugs in the kernel of the operating system or incompatible Dynamic Link Library or DLL.

Sometimes, software incompatibilities may also result in a Blue Screen of Death error just as low-level software operating in the Windows kernel.

And, if there is low disk space in the C Drive you may also see a Blue Screen of Death error.

According to a resource from Microsoft, 70% of all of the Blue Screen of Death errors result from poorly written third-party driver codes as well as incompatible apps or programs that cause conflicts.

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Solutions:

As said earlier, Blue Screen of Death errors do not mean the end of your computer.

You can fix the issue after you recover the data from the blue screen, which is discussed later.

Typically, it is the software and the hardware that can trigger a Blue Screen of Death error.

You may find it for sure when you troubleshoot the problem.

If software is the likely cause of the error then you can follow these steps of troubleshooting to make sure of it:

  • Check for any program updates available for that software and install them
  • Uninstall the existing software and install a clean version of it again if updating it does not work
  • Look for support information from the developer and
  • Try using a competing program which is similar to it if uninstalling the existing one proves to be the cause of the error.

On the other hand, if hardware is the probable cause of the Blue Screen of Death errors then these are the specific steps to follow to confirm it:

  • Check that the particular hardware is mentioned in the Windows Hardware Compatibility List
  • Update the firmware of the hardware
  • Check it out with the manufacturer for any information or support available
  • Replace the piece of hardware if nothing works out.

One you know what is the cause of the blue screen errors, you can follow these steps to resolve the issue.

The simplest way to fix this issue is to reboot your computer and most of the time you will be successful in your first attempt.

However, if it fails, you can try fixing the BCD error, MBR error or the driver issues of the hardware.

Still, if these entire attempts go in vain, here are the specific steps to follow to fix the Blue Screen of Death errors.

Undo all changes made by using System Restore to roll back the system software to its previous state.

This process should be followed especially if you know that the Blue Screen of Death error has occurred after you have installed a new hardware or a new program, updated the driver, or installed a Windows update.

Make sure that there is enough free space on the C Drive left.

Ideally, you should clear up the drive so that there is at least 15% of total capacity of the drive available as free space at all times.

You can also use the Windows 10 Repair Services for fixing the Blue Screen of Death errors.

This will ensure that there is no loss of data in the process.

Run a proper scan on your computer system to look for virus or malware in it that may be affecting the Master Boot Record or Windows kernel at a low level to result in system instability and Blue Screen of Death errors.

Run the full system scan using the antivirus software while your PC is in the safe mode.

Sometimes, installing the most recent drivers for hardware may also fix the Blue Screen of Death errors.

It will upgrade the outdated driver or anything that is installed incorrectly that may result in a system crash.

Look for the service packs, updates and patches that are released by Microsoft from time to time for their operating systems and apply them.

Sometimes, these come with fixes for Blue Screen of Death errors.

Also, check the System and Application logs available under the Event Viewer to look for any warnings or errors.

Sometimes, these may provide valuable clues on the cause of the Blue Screen of Death errors so that you know what exactly you need to fix in order to resolve the issue appropriately.

There are also several incidents when an erroneously configured or overclocked BIOS or Basic Input Output System causes several issues at random including Blue Screen of Death errors.

Restoring the BIOS to its default settings often resolves the issue.

However, there are specific steps to follow to return the BIOS to its default settings. These are:

  • Going to C:
  • Clicking on Windows folder
  • Clicking on Software Distribution folder
  • Opening the Download folder and
  • Deleting all the files that are stored in this folder.

Also, you will need to delete the $Windows.~BT folder which you will find in the root directory of C Drive.

After you have deleted all these files from their respective folders, you will have to reboot your computer.

While it reboots, keep pressing the F12 or Delete key to go to the BIOS.

Once you are there, enable UEFI Boot and at the same time disable all overclocking options of the processor, especially if you have set a value that is higher than the default values.

And, finally, if none of the above methods resolve the issue, you will need to reinstall Windows.

Either reset it or perform a clean install.

However, before you perform it make sure that you have created a proper backup of all important files and data of your computer in an external hard drive so that nothing is lost.

Is Blue Screen of Death Serious?

Though the Blue Screen of Death error is certainly not a very good thing to encounter, it is not dead serious in any way because it surely does not mean the end of the world.

There are a few specific types of Blue Screen of Death errors that may happen only once and never occur again.

These occasional blue screen errors are usually harmless.

However, there can be a few continual Blue Screen of Death errors which can be frustrating and problematic because these points to serious malaise in the system and you may also lose your valuable data due to it on every reboot due to hardware issues or system problems.

However, the Blue Screen of Death errors will themselves not delete the files or data in your system but you will not be able to access the data and files stored in your system when the message appears.

This can be a serious issue and a concern for most of the users.

The good news is that the recurring Blue Screen of Death errors can be remediated by the above mentioned process.

Therefore, it can be said that the Blue Screen of Death errors are not that serious an issue.

Can You Recover Files from the Blue Screen of Death?

Yes, there are easy ways in which you can recover lost data or files from the Blue Screen of Death.

However, for that you will need to use trustworthy data recovery software. As said earlier, this ideally should be done before you fix the error.

Ideally, you can do this in two different methods such as by using the data recovery software wizard without a bootable media by removing the hard drive and with it by not removing the hard drive.

If you want to do the recovery without the bootable media you will need to remove the hard drive from your computer with the Blue Screen of Death errors in it and then connect it with another normally running computer as a second drive.

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You will then have to download the data recovery software and install it on the computer and follow these particular steps:

  • Select the hard drive where the lost data is
  • Select and click ‘Scan’
  • When scanning is complete, use ‘Filter’ or ‘Search’ to locate the lost files
  • Select all those files that you want back and
  • Click on ‘Recover.’

Remember, you must also browse a different location to save these files.

If you want to use the bootable media along with the data recovery software wizard but do not know how exactly you should remove a hard drive, these are the particular steps to follow to recover the lost data.

You will first need to create a bootable disk and the steps to follow for it are:

  • Get an empty USB
  • Connect the USB drive to the computer
  • Launch the data recovery software wizard
  • Select the USB drive
  • Click on ‘Create’

This will create the bootable disk. However, the USB may not be new but make sure that it is empty.

If there are any files stored in it, remove all of them to another safe storage device because when you create a bootable disk, all previous data stored in the USB will be erased.

The next step is to boot from the bootable USB. The steps to follow in this particular stage include:

  • Connecting the bootable disk to the computer that will not boot
  • Restarting the computer while pressing F2 at the same time to enter the BIOS to change the boot sequence and
  • Setting to boot the computer from Hard Drive to Removable Devices if you use a bootable USB disk or to CD-ROM Drive if you use a bootable CD/DVD.

Now, the final step is to recover the lost data from the unbootable hard drive.

Use the data recovery wizard when you boot the system from the USB and select the drive that you wish to scan.

Clicking on ‘Scan’ will start the process through which you can find all of your lost files and data.

When the scanning process is completed, preview all of the recoverable files, choose the ones that you want, and click on the ‘Recover’ button.

This will restore the files.

However, make sure that you save all the data and files that you have recovered in another place so that chances of data overwriting are eliminated.

Just keep in mind at this point that if the Blue Screen of Death error is the cause of hardware damages, you will not be able to recover your data or files in this method. For that you will have to resort to the previous method.

Does Blue Screen of Death Mean You Need a New Computer?

In simple words – No, receiving Blue Screen of Death errors does not mean your computer is damaged and you will need to buy a new one.

These errors are pretty rare and often these errors occur only once and are usually harmless.

On the other hand, regular occurrence of Blue Screen of Death errors indicate serious problems with the hardware or even the operating system so much that it cannot go back to a point of stability.

Still, this does not mean you will need a new computer.

Often a simple restart will mend the issue but for recurring errors further investigation is required to identify the root cause and fix the issue.

In short, a computer that experiences Blue Screen of Death errors can surely be repaired.

However, it may be simple or complex, depending on the bug or the extent of hardware damage.

The cost of repair is also quite less, provided you do not have to replace an expensive hardware of your computer system.

Remember, you are not in the primitive ages anymore.

Therefore, Blue Screen of Death error is not scary or frequent today as it was in the earlier days, thanks to the sophisticated technologies and the latest versions of Windows operating system.

Can Blue Screen of Death Damage Your Computer?

No, Blue Screen of Death does not damage the computer because it occurs due to some sort of an issue or damage in the computer itself in the first place.

This means that the Blue Screen of Death errors are the results of the computer problem.

Moreover, when you receive this error message, everything stops. You cannot access files and data stored in your computer and even cannot close the error and save the file you were working on.

This means that when the Blue Screen of Death errors appear, further damage to the computer is summarily prevented,

However, it will ruin your day if you are busy all day on your computer, working or playing. It has to be fixed by rebooting, recovering and reloading the programs and files before you can start working again.

Can a Blue Screen of Death Fix Itself?

Typically, Windows 8 and Windows 10 operating systems can actually fix the Blue Screen of Death errors by performing a troubleshooting step automatically when the computer restarts after the error appears.

However, in other cases it might not but there is nothing to worry because the troubleshooting steps, as mentioned above already, are easy to perform.

Still you can check out the Action Center for any additional information about fixing this issue.

And, the best bet is to look for a solution on the web.

In fact, even Windows 10 and Windows 8 normally recommend performing additional search for the error right on the blue screen itself.

And, if the Blue Screen of Death error appears for only one time, in at least 90% of the cases these errors are easily and automatically fixable by simply restarting the computer.

This is because the error is usually solved by disabling, or disconnecting, or simply uninstalling the relevant drivers, applications, and devices, or updating just as recommended by Microsoft.

Ideally, if a computer is in a proper working state it will not display Blue Screen of Death errors at all.

However, no hardware or software is perfect and therefore it can appear as a rare occasion for some reason such as hardware issues or bugs in the software or in the operating system.

If such errors appear once in a couple of years, you should not worry about it but if Blue Screen of Death errors appear frequently, you have a real problem in hand to look into and get resolved.

Conclusion

Therefore, after going through this article you now know that a Blue Screen of Death error is not a serious issue if it happens less frequently.

It will not damage your computer but will need doing some recovery which may ruin your busy day.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers since childhood. He has over 12 years of experience in writing, computer testing, and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin

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