You’re working on your trusted PC typing and printing documents. Then from nowhere, your computer freezes, and you encounter that dreaded blue screen. What could’ve gone wrong? How do you fix it? And most importantly, how do you avoid getting it again?

What is the Blue Screen of Death?

The blue screen of death (BSOD) appears when Microsoft Windows can’t recover from a critical error. It’s also called stop error, exception error, or blue screen. BSOD is usually a result of low-level software (or drivers) crashing or faulty hardware. The computer will crash because it would have come to a point where it can’t operate properly or safely. At this point, the operating system will have encountered a “STOP Error”.

The user will have the option to either restart the computer or troubleshoot the error. Older versions of Windows will display a blue screen with detailed information on the problem; newer versions instead display: “Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart. We’re just collecting some error info, and then we’ll restart for you.”

Although the name is ominous, BSOD is an issue you can resolve on your own. What frustrates users is the fact that any unsaved data will be lost.

What Usually Causes the Blue Screen of Death?

The BSOD can be the result of either a software or hardware malfunction such as:

  • Hardware malfunctioning because it hasn’t been plugged in or installed properly.
  • Faulty memory, overcrowded memory, or not enough memory to run the operating system.
  • Improperly written device drives.
  • Components are getting overheated because the fan isn’t operating correctly or there’s dust build-up inside the case.
  • Hardware is becoming obsolete or incompatible.
  • Lack of memory protection.
  • Errors in software after installation or update.

How to Fix a Blue Screen of Death

Most times, Windows can automatically fix the issue, but there are a few circumstances where you need to look under the hood. Here’s how you can fix a BSOD:

  • Delete any new software or drivers that were installed before BSOD occurred because they might have had a hand in the “STOP Error.”
  • If any drivers were recently updated, you could roll back to the previous version that worked fine.
  • Sometimes the issue could be caused by old programs/drivers, so an update may be the solution since incompatible or old program files or device drivers can cause BSOD.
  • Sometimes Microsoft updates come with corrupt system files, which can cause the system to crash. Check for and install any update or patch that can fix the BSOD from Microsoft. Another option is to uninstall the faulty update or carry out a System Restore to get a fresh copy of system files to replace the corrupt ones.
  • BSOD can also be caused by malware that has corrupted system files or drivers. The solution is to update your antivirus definitions and scan your system thoroughly.
  • Once in a while, the BIOS needs to be updated because if it’s incompatible or outdated, it can result in a STOP code.
  • If the fan malfunctions and affects the air circulation in the computer, then overheating can cause BSOD. A fix requires you to clean out the fan and gills of your computer.
  • When installing or upgrading to a new operating system, a BSOD may occur because there is not enough storage space to accommodate the new operating system.
  • Having too many unnecessary hardware peripherals like flash drives, SD cards, portable hard drives, secondary monitors, printers, HDMI cables, and smartphones can interfere with the installation or upgrade of an operating system, leading to a BSOD. Disconnect everything and only leave the mouse and keyboard.
  • Unseated hard drives, RAM chips, and loose cables can also return a STOP code. Ensure that all hardware components are firmly in place, or unplug and then reseat all these components for good measure.
  • Sometimes your hardware (hard drive, RAM, Motherboard, or other parts) could be just getting old and causing BSOD. To fix this, backup files, run a diagnostic on your hardware, and replace what’s no longer working.

If you can’t fix it yourself, call for online or local onsite repair services to get expert help. An experienced technician can carry out the more complicated fixes as they have the software, tools, and knowledge that you may not have.

Don’t Turn Blue With Your Screen

A blue screen is a safety protocol to protect your computer. While you may have lost unsaved data, all your programs and saved files should be fine. Once your PC has restarted, try to fix the problem or get an expert to help you. To avoid a blue screen, treat your PC to regular maintenance checks and keep it uncrowded.