What is the BSoD? Understanding How You Get the Blue Screen of Death?

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Its Evolution

The BSoD started out in Windows 1.0, popping up whenever the computer booted improperly. This BSoD was highly primitive, so instead of normal letters and numbers, the blue screen was filled with nonsensical symbols. When Windows 95 was released, the BSoD had evolved into one of the operating system’s normal error messages. Instead of random numbers however, it would tell the user that an error has occurred and gave them the choice to continue what they were doing or restart the computer. This newer, more readable BSoD continued on to Windows 98 and Windows Me, before giving way to the BSoD of Windows NT operating systems. This more complex BSoD is powerful enough to stop Windows, telling the user that it does this to prevent damage to the user’s computer.

Anatomy of the BSoD

The first part of the BSoD is the stop error code. The stop error code is one of the most important parts of the BSoD, and it is important not to be intimidated by it. Every problem that can cause a BSoD has a stop error code, and this code greatly helps during troubleshooting. There are articles out there that will go in depth about each error code, but this isn’t one of them.

The next part of the BSoD tells you that Windows has encountered a problem and has shut down Windows. Here the important part is the specific error. Each word in the error code is separated by an underscore.

After this, there will be three long paragraphs about general troubleshooting tips. Read these if it is your first time seeing this screen. If not, these tips probably won’t be too much help. After the lengthy tips explanations however, it will tell you what driver actually gave you the error in the first place. This is highly important and should be duly noted.

What to do if you See it?

The creature known as BSoD lives silently on every Windows computer. It’s always watching and waiting for that perfect hardware, driver, or software error that will cause Windows to stop working properly. Once it senses your computer’s weakness, it strikes hard and fast, leaving you with no other option than to restart the computer. This could happen if there is a virus on your computer or a missing driver. It could also happen seemingly randomly. If you do encounter this beast, the first thing you should do is restart your computer.

Most of the time, the BSoD will not reoccur after a good restart. If it does however, figure out what you were doing to make the BSoD appear. If you just installed something new - like a CD drive or even a new jump drive - remove it and restart. Search the Internet for updated drivers for your part. If it is a software problem, uninstall the offending software. If it still happens, or if it isn’t a specific program or hardware causing the problem, you may be missing system files. In this case, you should use your Windows CD to perform a repair install. If a repair install doesn’t work, take down the stop error number and use Microsoft’s knowledgebase for the answer.