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Blue Screen of Death

by whoozhe
October 13, 2003

Windows crashes, and you get the dreaded Blue Screen of Death, a blue screen with lots of technical information. What should you do?

The most common reason for Blue Screen Of Death (BSoD) is problems with incompatible versions of DLLs. This cause is sometimes referred to as "DLL Hell". Windows loads these DLLs into memory when they are needed by application programs; if versions are changed, the next time an application loads the DLL it may be different from what the application expects.

These incompatibilities increase over time as more new software is installed, and is one of the main reasons why a freshly-installed copy of Windows is more stable than an "old" one.

Other causes are faulty memory, bad drivers and about 1000 others.

First download and install updated drivers for just about everything, particularly the Graphics card.

The next thing to do is to boot into "safe mode" several times. You can force your computer into a more basic mode by pressing the F5 key when you see "Starting Windows. . ." You may have to press it several times. Safe mode prevents your computer from accessing some of the more failure-prone components, like networking and video.

If you cannot replicate the error in safe mode, a device driver is probably causing it. By disabling one component at a time and experimenting until you are reasonably sure which device is causing the failure, you should be able to track the error down. If this detective work is inconclusive, or if the error persists, I would start looking at your RAM and memory management.

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