BSOD -Blue Screen Of Death

The most infamous error message is the Blue Screen Of Death. It’s so wellknown that it has crept into the vernacular: “Aw, man! I was almost finished with my term paper when I got bluescreened!” The phenomenon is also known by its acronym, BSOD. The conditions that cause a blue screen have changed since the days of Windows 95/98, as has what it means. In either case, chances are pretty good that, if you get bluescreened, any unsaved work will be lost, as either Windows (in NT/2000/XP) or your application (in 95/98) has been shut down. The BSOD is perhaps the most despised error not only because it has wiped away countless hours of work over the years, but because of the obtuse way in which it does so.
The messages delivered in the typical blue screen are meant for developers more than end users. For example, a blue screen delivered by Windows may deliver a message such as the following: “0x0000001E, KMODE_EXCEPTION _NOT_HANDLED.” And if you don’t find that sufficiently informative, you’ll see four variables in parentheses to help developers figure out what’s happening. Again, none of this will mean much to most of us, but a support rep or developer can often learn a great deal from such cryptic messages. Fortunately, blue screens are rare in recent versions of Windows and may disappear after a reboot. But if the problem recurs, you could have a real problem. Here are some troubleshooting steps to follow if you encounter a BSOD: While your system is booting, press F8 and select Safe Boot Mode, which loads a subset of Windows with minimal drivers. If things run smoothly in Safe Mode, you likely have a software problem with a recently installed application.

Try to decipher the error message to see if you can trace it to a specific program. If all else fails, uninstall your most recently- installed application. If you still see blue screen errors in Safe Mode, restart again and use F8 to get to the advanced options. This time, choose Restore Last Known Good Configuration, which is a snapshot of your system as it existed before you last installed any drivers or other software. You will lose any system changes you’ve made since that point, but your documents will normally remain untouched by this process. If you’re still having problems, you are likely suffering from a hardware problem or a corruption of vital system files.

Again, any hints that you can glean from the error message could help you (or a tech support rep) trace the source of the problem. Remove any recently installed hardware and try booting again. In the worst case, it’s not uncommon to have to resort to reinstalling device drivers or even the whole operating system. Ultimately, the best cure for the BSOD is prevention: Save often, create frequent backups, and burn a little incense to curry favor with capricious PC spirits.

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