A PC that crashes / freezes every 30 minutes and shows blue screen errors constantly is annoying and frustrating. It reduces productivity and, worse, it could end up destroying important files and data in your computer.
The good news is that you can prevent your PC from constantly restarting and the blue screen error messages can actually provide essential diagnostic information. This helps when you research websites for the right information and tool to fix the growing issue.
Prevent Automatic Restarts
When Windows crashes, it’s likely that the default settings for a newly installed program (in Windows XP to 8) cause the system to crash and restart over and over again.
This setting can be found in the Control Panel under “System” and then go to “Show Advanced System Settings, Advanced, Startup and Recovery Settings.” From there, deselect “Automatic Restart.” As for the “Write Debugging Information” option, you can confidently leave that blank. While there are memory dumps for Microsoft’s analysis tools, they rarely provide any relevant information.
It is more helpful to select the “Enter Event To The System Log” option. Once done, restart the PC, then go to Windows boot menu by pressing F8 and selecting “Disable Automatic Restart On System Failure” option.
Next time your PC crashes, it won’t restart…reducing the risk of losing important data. However, you will then be presented with the dreaded blue screen of death.
Anatomy of a Blue Screen
Since Windows 7, blue screens have become less frequent, but they are not quite out of the picture yet. The causes are almost always hardware and driver related. Usually all it takes is reading the error message thorough to successfully find the solution. These following messages are particularly common.
INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE: This means there is a problem with the access to media or system partition. Potential triggers include incompatible BIOS settings, controller, driver, or physical damage to the hard disk.
UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP: This message is almost always caused by a problem with the hardware. Possible reasons are newly installed devices, heat problems, defective RAM modules or an unstable power supply.
PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA: The blue screen indicates faulty memory management. Triggers are often defective, overclocked and incompatible with other memory devices or overheated.
IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL: This error code is usually caused by incompatible drivers, as well as by an overheated or overclocked CPU.
Under “Technical Information,” you can find more information about the errors which are useful when searching in the web for solutions. This message always contains starts with the line “*** STOP” and an eight-digit hexadecimal number. That 8-digit hexadecimal number is the error code.
In other cases, the blue screen contains even accurate indication and sometimes even specifies a file name, usually with the file extension SYS, that is causing the problem.
With Windows 8, the blue screen of death has a new form. Instead of getting a plain-looking error message, you get to see a slim, full-screen error message in pastel shades. However, the brief description of the error message should give you clues where to start.