How to Fix Blue Screen of Death on Windows XP

By B. Steele

The Blue Screen of Death, or BSOD, occurs when a serious hardware or Windows kernel fault prevents the operating system from functioning normally. The system halts to prevent further damage, and you’re presented with a screen filled with white diagnostic text that is often difficult to decipher. Installing buggy or incorrect drivers often causes a BSOD, as does failing hard drives and corrupted operating system files. Sometimes, simple power surges may cause your system to halt.

Step 1

When you see a BSOD, look at the third line of text from the top of the screen to determine why your system halted or can't boot up normally. One common reason is an “unmountable boot volume,” which may indicate a problem with your hard disk or the file structure on it. Another common issue is “Page fault in non-paged area,” which may point to corrupted data on your hard drive or failing memory modules. If any specific hardware driver is mentioned, note this as well.

Step 2

Shut down the computer and unplug its power cable from the wall. Press and hold the power button for a few seconds to discharge any residual power from the motherboard. Let the system sit for 10 minutes. Minor power surges sometimes cause a BSOD, and letting the circuits discharge for a few minutes may resolve the problem.

Step 3

Plug the power cables back in, and reboot the computer. Tap "F8" repeatedly until you get to the Windows boot option menu. Select “Safe Mode” and press “Enter.”

Step 4

Log in using an administrator account and password.

Step 5

Uninstall any recently added hardware or software if the BSOD occurred soon thereafter.

Step 6

Click the Windows "Start" button, select “Run,” type “eventvwr” (without quotation marks here and throughout) and press “Enter.”

Step 7

Click “System” and click the “Source” column header to arrange the items in that category in alphabetical order.

Step 8

Look for any errors or warnings under the source “disk.” If you see any, your hard drive may be failing.

Step 9

Click the Windows "Start" button, select “Run,” type “cmd” and press “Enter” to bring up a command prompt window.

Step 10

Type "chkdsk /r" and press “Enter:”

Step 11

Press “Y,” press “Enter,” type “exit” and press "Enter" to close the window.

Step 12

Reboot your computer and allow the Check Disk utility to run. This Windows utility checks your hard drive for errors and repairs bad sectors and file system errors. This process may take an hour or more.

Step 13

Log in to Windows using an administrator account.

Step 14

Click the Windows "Start" button, select “Run,” type “eventvwr” and press “Enter.” Click the “Application” log.

Step 15

Click “Time” to arrange the items in chronological order, beginning with the most recent.

Step 16

Double-click the most recent log that lists “Winlogon” as its source. This is your Check Disk report.

Step 17

Review the information in the Description field. If the log notes any bad sectors, consider replacing your hard drive as soon as possible, even if Check Disk was able to repair them. Bad sectors sometimes are symptoms of an impending hard drive failure.