Learn how to read and understand a Stop Error Message (BSOD) so that you can troubleshoot and fix the problem causing it in Windows 7.
What is a Stop Error?
When Windows detects an unexpected problem that it can’t recover from, a Stop Error (better known as a Blue Screen of Death BSOD) occurs. A Stop Error protects the integrity of your computer by stopping all processing. When a Stop Error occurs a message appears (the BSOD) on your screen in what is called a text-mode error message that gives information about the error
Stop errors occur very rarely and are almost always caused by driver and hardware problems, or file inconsistencies.
Parts of a Stop Error
Before you can attempt to fix your computer after a Stop Error you need to be able to properly read and understand what the Stop Error is trying to tell you. Each Stop Error is unique and requires a unique way of troubleshooting it based on the information it gives you.
Here are the major pieces of information in a Stop Error Message:
- Stop Error number (also called bugcheck code): uniquely identifies the Stop Error. In the Stop Error below, the error number is the end-user manually generated the crashdump. Stop Errors will most likely look something like BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER.
- Recommended User Action: informs the user that a problem has occurred and that Windows was shut down because of it. It also attempts to describe the problem and how to fix it. The recommended user action is the few paragraphs of text below the Stop Error number.
- Stop Error parameters: provides additional information about the stop error. Parameters are the hexadecimal numbers enclosed in parentheses. (0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000) in the example Stop Error below are the Stop Error parameters.
- Driver Information: When available, identifies the most likely source of the problem. Driver information is not always available in a Stop Error message.
- Debug Port and Dump Status Information: indicates if a memory dump has or is being written.
Here’s a manually initiated example of a Stop Error message (BSOD):
Typical Causes of Stop Errors
- Faulty Software Stop Error: can occur when a driver, service, or system feature running in kernel mode causes an exception. If the Stop Error appears to occur randomly, pay close attention to what is going on when it occurs. Did you install new software lately? Make sure you have the latest version of all software installed on the computer.
- Hardware Issue Stop Error: can be caused by an unplanned event resulting from defective, malfunctioning, or incorrectly configured hardware. Try installing the latest drivers and re-install the hardware.
- Executive Initialization Stop Error: occur only during the relatively short Windows executive initialization sequence during boot up. These errors are typically caused by corrupt system files. Try running the Startup and Repair tool.
- Installation Stop Error: usually occur during a Windows installation or upgrade because of incompatible or defective hardware or outdated firmware.
Getting Help Fixing a Stop Error
Here are a few places to get help troubleshooting a Stop Error (BSOD):
- MAXIMUMpcguides: I have a whole section of MAXIMUMpcguides that covers the most common Stop Error Messages.
- Microsoft Debugging Tools For Windows Help: Install Microsoft Debugging Tools For Windows and consult help for that tool. It contains a definitive list of Stop Error messages and how to fix them.
- Microsoft Knowledge Base: Microsoft’s KB has a very informative but limited number of Stop Error articles.
- Microsoft Help and Support: Lots of information about Windows.
- Microsoft Product Support Services: Get a Microsoft professional to help you fix the Stop Error.
Still need help? Ask your computer question now.