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We can Fix the Blue Screen "Of death"

If you've ever used Windows, chances are you've experienced the lovely shade of blue associated with the famous Windows Stop Error or 'Blue Screen of Death.' This frequent, although less so in newer operating systems, error occurs whenever Windows senses a software, hardware or driver error which will not allow it to continue operating properly. In other words, it happens all the time, for all sorts of reasons.

Often, if you're lucky, the problem will resolve itself with a simple reboot and you may never have to worry about it again. More typically though, the BSOD is a harbinger of trouble and you may find yourself faced with another and another until you throw up your hands… but all is not lost. 

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Let's take a moment to look at a BSOD in its natural environment, careful now, we don't want to startle it… Note the eye catching shade of blue intended to warn us of trouble, the detailed list of hexadecimal numbers, and relatively unhelpful 'tip.' This is the BSOD in all its glory, so be very afraid if you ever come face to face with this hideous creature! 

Reading the Blue Screen Of Death

A typical Windows XP stop message, like the one above, is divided into four parts, and actually does display some helpful clues as to what caused its appearance. Reading a BSOD is not an everyday task, but if we take a moment to dissect it, you'll see it can help us to resolve the conflict which is stopping Windows from operating correctly.

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The bugcheck information shows the number of the stop error (in hexadecimal format), information on why the system has stopped and the friendly (text-based) name for the stop error, in this case "DRIVER_IRQI_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL."

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The second section, 'recommended user action,' is pretty generic and contains advice for the user on possible troubleshooting steps. This tends to be the same for just about every stop error, though the main advice 'try restarting your computer' is the best possible first step to take.

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 The third section, 'driver information,' may contain vital info. If an actual driver file is associated with the blue screen, it will be listed here. This can give you something to work on in the case of a reoccurring error.

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The final part of the stop error screen is the 'debug port and status information' section. Windows XP will attempt to dump the contents of system memory either to a file on the hard drive or to one of the COM ports in the case of a stop error.

Why Do BSOD's happen?

In Windows XP, stop messages generally take one of five forms:

1. Software errors during Windows operation. Software or device drivers installed in your computer may have errors or problems which cause a stop error, either constantly or under certain conditions.

2. Hardware errors during Windows operation. If a hardware device malfunctions or is removed during the operation of Windows, or if your hardware does not fully support the operations that XP expects it to support, a hardware stop error will occur. Outdated BIOS information on older computers might also be an issue.

3. Installation errors. The Windows XP installation process is the most sensitive time for hardware and disk errors. If there is a problem with your computer's hardware configuration or the media you are using to install XP, a stop error will likely occur.

4. Startup errors. Corrupted system files, hardware and driver errors can all cause Windows XP to halt with a stop message without correctly booting into Windows. An error of this sort will almost always require troubleshooting before Windows can be loaded correctly.

5. Intermittent errors. The most irritating type of stop message, these crop up consistently but apparently randomly. The most likely culprits for this include: defective system memory, an overheating processor, dead or dieing hard drive or faulty software and device drivers.