The blue screen of death—or BSOD—is always an unwelcome sight. BSODs appear when Microsoft Windows encounters a fatal system error from which it can’t recover, usually the result of low-level software (or drivers) crashing or faulty hardware. t indicates a system crash, in which the operating system has reached a condition where it can no longer operate safely.
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.
The four primary BSoD components are as follows:
- Loaded memory modules
- Actual error message
- Current kernel debug status
- Unloaded modules with no errors
When a blue screen occurs, Windows automatically creates a “minidump” file that contains information about the crash and saves it to your disk. You can view information about these minidumps to help identify the cause of the blue screen.
Blue screens also look a bit different, depending on what version of Windows you’re running. In Windows 7 and previous versions, the blue screen looked much like a terminal screen, displaying all manner of information.
More time to see the blue screen details
By default, Windows automatically restarts the computer whenever it encounters a blue screen of death. If you would like more time to see the blue screen details (or just make sure that it’s a blue screen that’s happening), you can disable automatic restarts on BSODs from the Windows Control Panel.
- Right-click on the Computer icon and choose Properties. Windows 7 or Vista users will be taken to the system properties screen, so click on Advanced system settings.
- The Advanced tab should already be selected, so you’ll want to click the Settings button under “Startup and Recovery”
- Here we go… just uncheck the option for Automatically restart under the System failure section.
Next time you get a BSOD you’ll be able to see it and able to write down the error message. You’ll have to manually reboot the computer if this happens, of course.
Windows 8 and 10 actually perform this troubleshooting step automatically when your PC restarts after a BSOD. However, it may still be worth paying a visit to the Action Center to see if there are more details or additional troubleshooting steps.
In Windows 7, 8, and 10, you can troubleshoot blue-screen information using the Action Center. In Windows 7, head to Control Panel > System and Security. In Windows 8 and 10, head to Control Panel > Security and Maintenance. In the “Maintenance” section, you’ll be able to check for solutions to existing problems.