How to identify and fix a blue screen of death error on Windows XP
Once in a while, when working on my PC I run into a blue screen of death error with lots of error codes displayed. Sometimes resetting the machine is enough, though in most cases it won’t do.
This stop error, also known as the “Blue Screen of Death” (or just BSOD) sometimes appears in the process of re-installing the operating system. The trick that usually works is enabling the hard disk SATA/IDE compatibility in BIOS settings.
If, however, you haven’t been reinstalling the system, here are other possible causes and recommendations on how to fix the blue screen of death on Windows XP.
The blue screen of death error is mostly caused by hardware failure or incompatibility of drivers (software issues).
- You will need to remember what you were doing with a computer the last time it worked. You might have replaced any hardware (video card, RAM, CD-ROM, etc…) which is not compatible with the motherboard. Pay particular attention to RAM and video card, since they are the most likely cause of this malfunctioning.
- It’s also possible that your hardware connectors aren’t properly installed in a motherboard socket, that’s why you are getting the error. If your computer has been modified by adding any additional physical equipment, try removing it from your computer and rebooting the system again. Check your video, HDD, RAM and other connectors.
- Removable devices like USB sticks, floppy disks, SSD cards, even newly attached printers or scanners may cause this problem, therefore unplug the devices and restart your computer.
- Broken CPU cooler and dusty fan may also be the reason why your system is not loading. If you’re familiar with internal parts of your computer, try checking the CPU cooler system. You might need a replacement, if it’s not rotating.
- I have already mentioned RAM memory fault, so if you’re not sure whether it’s has caused the blue screen of death problem, try running a RAM diagnostics with Memtest 86 + program. You will need to run it from a CD or USB stick (just make sure to make your CD or USB bootable in BIOS settings).
- Hard disk errors can also invoke the same blue screen message. The best tool for running a PC diagnostics in order to identify hardware error is Hirens Boot CD, which you can download freely on the internet and burn on your CD to make it bootable.
- Accidental computer shutdown may cause a temporary glitch in electronic devices, so if there was a power outage and you didn’t have any UPS device, here is what you should do:Turn off the PC, unplug the power cord from the computer power socket, unplug also your keyboard, mouse, monitor, UTP or any other cables. Then press the power button of your computer and keep it pressed for about 30 seconds in order to to drain out your capacitors. Afterwards plug in all the cables and turn on the PC.
Changed BIOS settings
- It is also necessary to remember what might have been changed in computer’s BIOS Settings. For instance you may have manually accelerated the processor speed too much, or changed the video settings. Try resetting BIOS to the default mode and rebooting the system.
- If there was any software change, or new software installation has been made, this might be the possible reason of a breakdown and the blue screen error.In this case, try booting from Windows XP installation disk and repairing the system using recovery console. Then you can connect to the system command-line mode and try to prevent a conflict by restarting system services, using the DOS commands or removing any inappropriate files. I would suggest using this step only if you have experience in DOS. Otherwise, follow the steps below…Try to restart the PC and keep pressing F5 or F8 keys on the keyboard until you see a black “Windows advanced options menu” window. Scroll down with arrow keys and select “Safe mode with networking” option. Press enter.
- After your XP Windows loads up, browse to the Start menu – All Programs – Accessories – System tools and System restore. Select the option “Restore my computer to an earlier time”. Click next. You will be given a calendar with restore points. Select the latest restore point date and follow the on screen prompts.
- Corrupted and infected files could as well be the cause of your PC not loading up. My recommendation is scanning your system with “Malwarebytes”, “Super antispyware” and “Spybot search and destroy”. All of them are free antivirus and antispyware programs which are pretty effective at what they do. As you won’t be able to start up your Windows XP from a hard drive, try using either a burned bootable CD for each of these antivirus programs or Hirens Boot CD. If you don’t have it, I recommend downloading it from here. After the download:
- Burn it with Nero burner or whatever program you have and boot it from your CD-ROM at the PC start up. You should also make the CD-ROM the first boot device – just change the boot device priority in BIOS or by pressing F8, F11 or F5.
- Once the CD content loads up select “Mini Windows XP” and press enter.
After the Mini XP loads up, choose between the three mentioned antispyware and antivirus programs and run them to scan the system for possible infections and damaged files. There are dozens of recovery and repair programs in Mini XP; you just have to use them smart. So far Hirens boot CD has been the no. 1 system repair tool for me.
Finally, software incompatibility may require a full re-installation of the system, with a complete removal of the old system. If you have no other options, don’t forget save your sensitive and important information from a hard disk onto some removable device. A new installation will require hard disk formatting, in which case all the data on your hard drive will be lost.