If you have worked
with a Windows computer, it is a safe bet that you have seen the infamous
“Blue Screen of Death” in the past. This solid blue screen with the white
letters strikes fear into most computer users and with good reason. The
screen will sometimes reference a file that has performed an illegal operation,
fatal exception or caused a general protection fault in or with another
program that is listed. Sometimes you just get the message without any
file names, only a reference to the memory address to guide you in your
search for a cure.
The blue screen is there to protect your computer from harming itself.
It is like the human body going into shock when a catastrophic event occurs.
All systems are put on standby until you are able to clear the error message
or reboot the system. After this you should be back to normal and you will
be able to research the problem.
Sometimes you will be lucky and be are able to press the proverbial
“any key” and continue with the task at hand. Minor errors will usually
allow you to continue without a reboot. Other errors will only bring on
more errors and you will be forced to perform the dreaded three finger
salute or even remove power from the system to stop the madness.
When you get an error message on your computer, take the time to write
as much information down about the event as you can remember. Write down
the names of the files that are mentioned. Write down the memory address
that is referenced. Write down what you were doing when the error occurred
as well as what other programs may have been running at the time. The more
information you have, the easier it will be for you to track down a solution
or at least explain it to someone that can track it down.
If you are going to be brave and try to correct the problem yourself,
start by typing the first two lines of the error message into a search
on Google. If that doesn’t get you
anywhere, try different variations of the message or even the memory address
by itself. Try to look for Web sites and not some of the chat areas where
other users are answering questions. Depending on the error, you might
have a lot of looking ahead of you, but you can be relatively sure that
someone else has had the same problem and lived to write about it on the
Web before you.
The BSOD can be caused by either hardware or software. Sometime you
will have software that tries to access memory that is being used by the
operating system or another program. Sometimes you will actually have a
faulty piece of hardware such as memory or CPU that is causing the problem.
If you are installing a new piece of hardware such as a modem or network
card, the wrong drivers could cause an error. Just recently I had a system
that I was reinstalling the operating system from scratch and was getting
blue screens trying to load the correct drivers for the devices. I finally
removed all the cards from the system and replaced them one at a time with
the correct drivers to correct the errors.
If there are files that are referenced in the error message and you
are using Windows 98, ME or XP, you can use the msconfig utility to disable
your startup programs to see if the problem is corrected. You can start
the utility from the run line. If this corrects the problem you would then
need to go back into msconfig and re-enable the items until you find the
offending program. Try to leave programs that look close to any files that
are mentioned in the error message for last. For instance if one of the
files in the error message starts with Mc, then leave all of the programs
that refer to Mcafee or the folder that Mcafee is in turned off until the
Another area to look at would be spyware. If you seem to get the errors
while you are trying to browse the Internet or check your mail, you could
have installed a program that is interfering with your browser. I like
to use a program from Lavasoft called AdAware. You can download
a copy by searching for the program by name. This program will check
the files in your system as well as the registry and memory for programs
that are known to be spyware and allow you to delete the program and registry
entries safely. You might need to repair Internet Explorer after removing
the spyware to get your system back to normal.
Your computer will respond to the information and hardware that it is
given to work with. Garbage in, garbage out. If you have bad hardware,
drivers or choose to install bad software, then you are going to have problems
until you do something about it. If the hardware is found to be bad, replacing
it will fix it. If you are installing bad software, you will also have
to correct your actions to prevent the errors from coming back.