Blue Screen messages troubleshooting

Posted on 2011-10-13
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Is it possible to recommend a general procedure to follow when facing a BSOD situation? Although the sepcifics of the message can vary each time according to the eventual cause, It would be interesting to hear if anyone follows a general procedure to try and troubleshoot the cause of Blue screening.
Question by:dannewton
    LVL 18

    Accepted Solution

    Since the BSOD (blue screen of death) can be caused either due to a hardware (ram, harddrive, etc) or software issue  (usually a driver or dll issue or corrupted files), it is best to try to rule out which of the two is causing the BSOD, either hardware or software. One of the best ways to try to rule out a driver issue is to boot the system in safemode, if it boots up in safemode fine, then usually the bsod may be due to a driver issue, or a startup application because not all the drivers and startup applications are loaded when you boot in safemode. It also depends when the BSOD occurs, if you boot to windows normally and it does not cause it to BSOD right away, note when it does it occur, does it occur after running a certain application, or does it happen after using the system for an extended period of time? If it does not occur right away and does not matter what application you use then the BSOD could be a hardware issue, it may be over heating or have bad capacitors on the motherboard, or it could be the hard drive or ram is bad.

    You can test the memory or hard drive using many different applications, by creating a self booting CD discs, which are not dependant upon the current operating system installed on your computer. This can rule out if the BSOD is caused by either the memory or hard drive. You can also swap out memory from a machine that works good, with the memory from the machine that has the BSOD, and see if solves the problem.
    LVL 87

    Assisted Solution

    First make sure all the PC's you want to be able to troubleshoot are set to make minidump files (right click "Computer", select "Properties", "Advanced System Settings", "Advanced" tab, and then under Startup and Recovery "Settings", under System Failure, make sure the small memory dumps or minidumps have been selected).

    After a BSOD a minidump file will be created in the folder you can select above (usually C:Windows\Minidump).

    Then install the Windows Debugger on a PC you want to use to examine those files. Below is a Link to that:

    With that, and the info in the Link below you should be able to troubleshoot many of the dumps:

    Something else to make sure of, always try to check several, not just one dmp files, as one crash can always happen and isn't always a big issue, and also, if the PC crashes regularly with different crashes, that usually leads to a problem with the hardware, not the software.
    LVL 91

    Assisted Solution

    >>  a general procedure   <<  check the file it points to with google
    if you have several dmps pointing to different issues, start by checking ram and disk

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks for all this input folks - most useful from different angles. I will add to a knowledge base for use next time a BSOD occurs.

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