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Understanding Blue Screen or Stop Errors

Posted: Nov 10, 2011 - Jim Bernstein

Blue Screen errors (Also known as bug checks) can occur on computers running Microsoft Windows when the system encounters a condition that compromises safe Windows operations. As a result, the system is halted and the “blue screen” with the bug check information or STOP error is displayed. Blue Screen errors can be very hard to diagnose since the information displayed in the error message can be hard to figure out making it difficult to trace it back to the originating cause.

Almost every Windows user has seen a blue screen error at some point in their computing lifetime and they can be very frustrating. Sometimes all you need to do is reboot your computer and you will be ok on the next restart. Other times it will keep on going to the blue screen and will even do so in Safe Mode. Most novice and even intermediate users usually get stuck on blue screen errors and often end up formatting their hard drive and reinstalling Windows to get past it.

These types of errors can occur for several reasons:

  • Software defects in drivers or core system services cause an invalid instruction to be sent to the processor.
  • Defective hardware causes unhandled messages to be sent to the operating system.
  • Core system services have been terminated (e.g., Local Security Authority or Client/Server Runtime Subsystem).

Bug checks provide diagnostic information such as STOP codes and driver names that can help lead to problem resolution. Because of the volatile state of the system, this information cannot always be recorded when the event occurs. It is important that you record the information associated with the bug check and driver information sections. Many of the bug check messages have relevant information that you should read and understand if they apply to your situation. Finally, if you have enabled memory dumps, wait until the dump is complete before restarting the computer (if you do not have automatic restart enabled). Your device vendor and/or Microsoft use the memory dumps to help understand the state of the system at the time that the bug check occurred. You can change the memory dump settings through the Startup and Recovery button in the System Properties’ Advanced tab, while the STOP messages might not always indicate the root cause of the problem, in combination with other sources of data; it can help direct a trained support technician to track down the root cause of the problem.


 

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