Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quick and Dirty guide to Blue Screen of Death(BSOD) aka stop errors

Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) is also known as a Stop Error. This happens when your Windows Platform OS encounters a critical error.

While most users tries to overcome it conveniently with the hard reset button, hoping it might not occur on the second boot up, this might happen again.

As a default, once the operating system encounters a BSOD, the system will reboot itself almost instantaneously, leaving the user unable to see what was the actual error.

And if the BSOD occurs during the boot up and kernel loading process before the Graphical User Interface (GUI) appears, this will result in a continuous boot and auto-reboot loop. In such a situation, the user activating the reboot button will have no effect.

To find out what was the reported error that had caused the BSOD, the user need to interact with the boot up process and prevent the "Automatic Restart Upon System Failure". To do that, there are 2 methods. One of them is to be done before while the user is still able to access the GUI. (i.e. When the system is still healthy). The second method is to be used when the GUI is no longer accessible and is currently in the continuous reboot state.

For Method 1, has a good graphical guide on how to change the bootup options in the XP GUI.

For Method 2, the user must press F8 before Windows start loading, this needs to happen just after the BIOS screen showing the hardware,ram,HDD. Once Windows detected the F8 keypress, it will present some options for booting.

Using the cursor keys, move down and highlight over the "Disable automatic restart on system failure" and press enter. Once this is done, Windows will boot and the system will halt without an automatic reboot once the BSOD appears.

The BSOD screen will present some important technical information that may give the user an idea of what caused the BSOD. See example below.

In this above BSOD, the most important relevant text here will be the STOP error code ( especially the 1st set of code before the bracketed code ) ie 0x00000050.

While there are many FAQ on what each and every stop code means on a general basis provided on many sites such as some below : : XP Stop Error Messages : Windows BSOD Stop Codes

But there may be unique stop codes such as one I encountered recently which was due to a Windows XP Update package from Microsoft itself!

XP BSOD due to Windows Update KB971486 and its resolution

The actual quick and dirty guide to finding the solution to your BSOD, would be to key in the relevant technical info in Google and search for it.

The example of searching for solution with respect to the problem I encountered above is here. <------ Click here to see how I searched using google.

The trick is to use quotes if you want to search an exact match of the phrase as shown in the BSOD.

To search a solution for the BSOD screen capture above, you'd need to key in this inside the google search box

From the top few results, there should be a solution out there already tested and proven.

Today is 28th October 2009
Time now is 09:55 hrs

PS : I was given a dinner treat after solving a friend's laptop with the guide above. Thanks and now you know how it's done!
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