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.
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.
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.
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.”
Log in using an administrator account and password.
Uninstall any recently added hardware or software if the BSOD occurred soon thereafter.
Click the Windows "Start" button, select “Run,” type “eventvwr” (without quotation marks here and throughout) and press “Enter.”
Click “System” and click the “Source” column header to arrange the items in that category in alphabetical order.
Look for any errors or warnings under the source “disk.” If you see any, your hard drive may be failing.
Click the Windows "Start" button, select “Run,” type “cmd” and press “Enter” to bring up a command prompt window.
Type "chkdsk /r" and press “Enter:”
Press “Y,” press “Enter,” type “exit” and press "Enter" to close the window.
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.
Log in to Windows using an administrator account.
Click the Windows "Start" button, select “Run,” type “eventvwr” and press “Enter.” Click the “Application” log.
Click “Time” to arrange the items in chronological order, beginning with the most recent.
Double-click the most recent log that lists “Winlogon” as its source. This is your Check Disk report.
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.
- If you received a page fault message and had recently replaced your memory modules, try removing the modules and re-seating them in their slots.
- If you cannot find any evidence of hardware problems, and you have not installed any new hardware, software or device drivers recently, the issue may be with the Windows installation. Back up your data and reinstall Windows.
- Windows may also halt if your system overheats. Make sure that none of your computer’s ventilation holes are covered, and dust your computer case regularly with canned air, especially if you have pets.
A writer and proofreader since 2006, B. Steele also works as an IT Help Desk analyst, specializing in consumer and business user tech support. She earned a B.A. in English and journalism from Roger Williams University. Steele also holds certifications as a Microsoft-certified desktop support technician, Microsoft-certified IT professional, Windows 7 enterprise support technician and CompTIA A+ IT technician.