The often-cryptic error messages that accompany Blue Screens of Death (BSOD) may seem unsolvable, but with a little practice and knowledge, you’ll be able to work through them. Most of the time, BSODs indicate a device or hardware conflict somewhere in your system. If you have one or two BSODs only rarely, then it’s no big deal. But when they occur with alarming frequency, then it’s time to dig a little deeper into the cause. And that’s what I hope to do in this article—give you a little knowledge that will help you solve these pesky problems.

First, when you get the BSOD, it’s a good idea to consult the Microsoft Knowledge Base . After all, it’s Windows. Why not refer to the source, right? The Knowledge Base recommends that you take the following steps when trying to resolve your BSOD:

  • ·        Since BSODs sometimes indicate a video card conflict or a conflict with the video drivers, check out this possibility first. To do so, you’ll need to go to Device Manager and examine the resources used. Also, look at the video card manufacturer’s Web site, which may offer an updated driver for download.
  • ·        If the BSOD occurs during setup of a new application or operating system, try removing the video driver from Device Manager prior to installation. Then, you can reinstall it afterwards.
  • ·        Utilize your event log. Look it over for possible conflicts.
  • ·        Try removing application or data files initiated to load upon Windows boot-up. This sometimes works for other problems, too, such as slow startup or Windows hanging soon or immediately after launching.
  • ·        Check the Win.ini file (you should find it in your Windows System directory). View it through SysEdit or a text editor. Look for programs that load in the line RUN= or LOAD=. Remark out these lines so they will not be processed.
  • ·        Check your BIOS versions and dates. Cross-reference them with the manufacturer. You may need to flash your BIOS.
  • ·        Using Device Manager, seek out conflicts based in the IRQs, I/O addresses, or DMA channels.
  • ·        Always make sure your hardware is installed properly.

You’ve just been given a quick-and-dirty rundown of things to check. It’s by no means one of the most extensive lists, but it can get you started. Nine times out of ten, I’ve found that by using the above list, I can identify the cause of my BSOD.

Joan Bard has been a developmental programmer for the past 13 years. During that time, she has spent many hours pursuing the art of Zen and PC maintenance. She holds degrees in computer science and in business administration from the University of Louisville.

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