Blue Screen of Death on Windows 7
AskBobRankin, 14 March, 2011

Summary: Windows 7 is the most stable version of the operating system to date. Still, it's not unheard of to see the dreaded "Blue Screen of Death" suddenly pop up. It's a serious warning of a major problem in your system and should not be ignored. Here's what to do if you encounter the Blue Screen of Death on Windows 7...

Fixing the Blue Screen of Death on Windows 7

Technically, the Blue Screen of Death is known as a "stop error." Windows brings everything to a complete, sudden stop "to prevent damage to your computer." The cause of a stop error may lie in hardware or software, and it can be very difficult to track down. Here are a few guidelines to debugging the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) on Windows 7.

An overheated CPU can cause a BSOD error. If your cooling fan is running constantly, you may need to take steps to cool things down inside of your computer case. Blow out dust. Replace heat sink thermal grease. If the cooling fan does not spin freely, install a new one or lubricate the bearing. Laptops may benefit from a lap pad designed to circulate cool air beneath the laptop.

Bad RAM can cause the Blue Screen of Death error. Run the memory check diagnostic routine available on the Win7 Startup Options menu. Press F8 during bootup to bring up the menu.

Other hardware errors are difficult for consumers to diagnose. You may need to have a qualified service rep run diagnostics on your computer.

Software errors that cause a BSOD can occur when Windows 7 does not shut down properly. Loss of power during shutdown is the most common cause of such errors. Using System Restore to restore your Windows settings to an earlier configuration may resolve a BSOD problem. (Click the Start button, type System Restore, then press Enter.)

More BSOD Fix Options

Check the Windows 7 Action Center to see if there are any unresolved configuration errors. Open the Start menu and type "action center" in the search box. Click on Action Center to open it and review any issues.

Outdated software drivers are a common cause of Blue Screen of Death errors. Running Windows Update will scan your computer and download updated drivers from many major vendors. Third-party driver updaters such as Driver Detective <> may do a more thorough job.

Hard disk errors may cause a BSOD error. Run the error-checking tool on your boot drive's Properties page to find and fix errors. It's also a good idea to defragment hard drives regularly to minimize errors. See my related article "Windows 7 Hard Drive Errors" for more help with this:

When all else fails to cure a recurring Blue Screen of Death, you may have to take the machine to a service center or ship it to the manufacturer for diagnosis and repair. Hopefully, the machine is still under warranty as this can be expensive. Be sure to make backup copies of all essential data before sending the machine in for repairs, and delete any sensitive data from the hard drive before turning it over to strangers.

Copyright 2005 - 2011 - Bob Rankin