Red Screen of Death

Why Trust Techopedia

What Does Red Screen of Death Mean?

The Red Screen of Death (RSoD) refers to the error message that appeared on some of the beta versions of Windows Vista as well as a few handhelds and video game consoles, such as the Playstation series. It also appeared in some of the early builds of Windows 98, generally known as “Memphis” during that period.


This term was coined by a few Microsoft developers in 2005, who experienced this error while testing the Windows OS. The error occurred by showing an all-red display, which reminded them of the notorious blue screen of death.

This term is also known as the Red Screen of Doom.

Techopedia Explains Red Screen of Death

A support page for Windows 98 indicated that users might experience the Red Screen of Death when encountering a BIOS problem.

This error also occurs in the PlayStation or its variants if the gaming console does not identify the inserted disk’s format.

This error seen in Playstation or Playstation variants occurs for the following reasons:

  • Insertion of a disk that is not compatible with the Playstation (for example, a GameCube or an Xbox disc)
  • Insertion of badly damaged disks
  • If there is any problem with the laser
  • Sometimes, even without any specific reason

The Red Screen of Death can also be found in the Atari Jaguar System. It occurs as a result of a loading cartridge error, and is unusual because it is marked by the sound of a roaring jaguar, a red jaguar logo and a change in screen background color from black to red. Still other RSoD occurrences may happen after crashes in some flight simulator software and the Sega Mega Drive game.

Other screens of death include blue, black, white, green and purple.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.