Blue Screen of Death

What Does Blue Screen of Death Mean?

Blue screen of death (BSoD) is a Microsoft Windows operating system error screen that is displayed to indicate system conflicts and the potential for a crash. This term gets its name because these critical messages were displayed on a blue screen.

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BSoD errors relate to system hardware, temperature, timing, resources, corrupt registries or viruses. The BSoD error screen serves as an alert to avert further computer and system damage. A BSoD freezes Windows and requires that the system be rebooted in order to continue to operate.

The blue screen has become less common now that operating systems are able to deal with many errors without interruption.

The blue screen of death is also known as a stop error.

Techopedia Explains Blue Screen of Death

The four primary BSoD components are as follows:

  • Actual error message
  • Loaded memory modules
  • Unloaded modules with no errors
  • Current kernel debug status

BSoD error codes include associated driver data and troubleshooting tips in the form of text and hexadecimal values. It is recommended that users make note of this data before rebooting. Users should also verify proper hardware installation and undo recent hardware and software upgrades.

BSoD errors also include memory dumps. When a system crashes, system memory data is dumped and saved to a hard drive file for debugging. BSoD error details are displayed because Windows is unable to recover from kernel-level errors.

BSoD error codes are readable via the following steps:

  • In the start menu, right click “Computer”
  • Select “Manage”
  • In the Computer Management window, select “Event Viewer”
  • The event log data isolates the cause of the BSoD error

BSoD error examples include:

  • DIVIDE_BY_ZERO_ERROR: Occurs when an application tries to divide by zero
  • IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL: Caused by a buggy device driver or actual hardware conflict
  • KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED: Caused by an incorrectly configured device driver
  • REGISTRY_ERROR: System registry failure
  • INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE: Unable to read hard disk
  • UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP: Check complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) for correct amount of random access memory (RAM) and single inline memory modules (SIMM) for speed and type
  • BAD_POOL_HEADER: Recent changes introduced this error
  • NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM: Indicates hard disk corruption

BSoD file names (.SYS extensions) indicate the BSoD error source. If a BSoD error file name cannot be located, the driver update tool may be used to find, download and update device drivers. Because most BSoD errors are related to outdated device drivers, reinstalling and updating system device drivers ensures seamless function.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

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.