What Is a Blue Screen?

by David Miller

Also known as the Blue Screen of Death or the Windows Stop Error, this screen image usually appears when a serious error occurred in your operating system. These errors can mainly be found on Windows-based computers and there are a variety of causes that can be responsible; however in most cases it can easily be repaired if you understand what the error message means.


When the blue screen appears it serves to protect the system from irreversible damage. It also provides the user with important information pertaining to the error, making it easier to locate and correct the problem in your system. It might not be so easy to understand for the average computer user and therefore you can consider other resources or even a professional to help solve the problem


These error screens are usually caused by faulty hardware or poorly written device drivers; in order to prevent damage to your system's integrity, it shuts itself down and you are left with the blue screen. Other reasons include corrupted system files and start-up errors. When installing new devices you may also encounter this error if you have a problem with your computer's hardware configuration.


The information provided on the blue screen can guide you towards the fault in your system. The information will be divided into four parts; the number and user friendly name of the stop error, the recommended user action, the driver information and the status information. By carefully dissecting this information you can find the driver or hardware causing the problem. During the occurrence of these errors the contents of your system's memory are also dumped into a file for later use and diagnostics; either to a file on your hard drive or one of the COM ports.


Given the variety of causes that can lead to the blue screen it is difficult to have a specific set of instructions to resolve the system error. There are various websites that provide a list of known errors with possible solutions and also a troubleshooting guide to help you solve the problem. You can also use your operating system's Safe Mode; starting up and eliminating certain drivers one at a time, basically a process of elimination. In some instances the problem corrects itself simply by restarting the machine. However, if you are still unsuccessful it might be a good idea to acquire the help of a professional PC technician.


There are various precautions you can take to reduce the risk of running into a blue screen error. When installing new hardware make sure that you install the drivers from the manufacturer of the hardware. This will eliminate compatibility errors and ensure that your device will work perfectly. Also keep your current system drivers updated; check the manufacturer's website at least once a month to make sure your device will not become unstable with outdated drivers. Basically you need to keep your system's health in check to avoid any unnecessary errors.

About the Author

David Miller is a Kentucky-based freelance writer who has written on a variety of subjects for eHow. He has also written content for many websites and small businesses. He has a background in the technology sector which he still pursues and enjoys.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera laptop with blue screen image by dim@dim from Fotolia.com