The “critical process died” error in Windows 10 can be frustrating to deal with. This error occurs when a critical system process stops responding or crashes, causing Windows to become unstable. While there are a few different causes of this error, the good news is that there are also several potential solutions you can try to fix it.
What Causes the Critical Process Died Error?
Here are some of the most common culprits behind the critical process died error in Windows 10:
- Corrupted system files – If important system files like DLLs become damaged or go missing, critical processes may fail to start correctly.
- Faulty drivers – Outdated, buggy, or incompatible drivers can cause system processes and services to crash.
- Malware infection – Viruses, spyware, and other malware can sometimes disrupt critical Windows processes.
- System file conflicts – Occasionally, incompatible or duplicate system files can prevent processes from working properly.
- Hardware problems – Defective RAM, failing hard drives, and other hardware issues can lead to critical process crashes.
- Software conflicts – Some software programs may conflict with Windows processes and cause them to fail.
So in summary, the critical process died error usually occurs due to some kind of system file corruption, hardware defect, driver problem, or software conflict that causes essential Windows processes to stop responding.
How to Fix the Critical Process Died Error
If you encounter the critical process died error, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to try and resolve the problem:
Restart Your PC
The simplest initial fix is to restart your computer. This will stop all running processes and restart the critical processes that crashed. The process that was causing the error may have been terminated during the restart.
Use System File Checker
System File Checker is a built-in Windows tool that can scan for and replace corrupt system files. To run it, search for “command prompt” in the search menu, right-click it and select “Run as administrator”. In the command prompt, type the following and press Enter:
This will scan your system files and replace any missing or damaged ones. Then restart your PC and see if the error persists.
Update or Roll Back Drivers
Since driver issues can trigger critical process crashes, updating your drivers may help. Search for “Device Manager” in the search menu, then expand each category and right-click devices to update drivers. Alternatively, if you recently updated a driver before the error appeared, rolling back that driver may fix the issue.
Check for Malware
Malware like viruses and spyware can sometimes cause system file and process corruption. Use Windows Security in the search menu to run a full antivirus scan. This may detect and remove any infections that are disrupting Windows processes.
Use System Restore
System Restore lets you roll back your Windows configuration to an earlier state, before the critical process error appeared. Search for “Recovery” and click the option to open System Restore. Follow the prompts to choose a recent restore point prior to when you encountered the error.
Repair or Reset Windows
The Windows 10 repair or reset features can fix system file errors and restore Windows to a clean, stable state. Open the “Recovery” option and choose “Advanced startup”. Then select either “Repair” to fix current system issues or “Reset” to fully reinstall Windows while keeping your files.
Check Hard Drive Health
Since hard drive errors can cause critical process crashes, run the CHKDSK command to scan for hard drive damage. Search for “command prompt”, then run it as admin and enter the following:
chkdsk /f C:
This scans drive C: and fixes any errors found. Let the scan complete, then restart your PC. A failing hard drive may need to be replaced.
Test Your RAM
Faulty RAM memory can lead to critical process crashes in Windows 10. You can test your RAM using the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool. Search for “Memory Diagnostic”, click it and restart your PC when prompted. This will run a RAM test when your system boots up next.
Overheating hardware like the CPU and GPU can potentially lead to system instability and crashes. Monitor your temperatures using Task Manager or a hardware monitor app. Ensure case fans are running and heatsinks/coolers are properly installed. Thermal throttling or damage may cause crashes.
If you have overclocked your CPU, GPU, RAM or other components, unstable overclocks can definitely lead to crashes. Open your BIOS and revert any overclocks to default settings. This removes instability caused by pushing components too far.
Make sure Windows is completely up to date by searching for “Check for Updates”. Install all available patches and security updates. Updates often include fixes for bugs that may be causing critical process issues.
Uninstall Conflicting Programs
If you recently installed a new application before the crashes occurred, it’s possible it is conflicting with Windows processes. Uninstall any suspicious or unnecessary programs through the Control Panel. Reboot and check if crashes still happen.
Advanced Critical Process Died Troubleshooting
If none of those basic steps have resolved your critical process died error, you may need to dig in deeper and try some advanced troubleshooting techniques. Here are a few more options to consider:
Perform a Clean Boot
A clean boot loads Windows with only the bare essential processes and services running, which can help isolate conflicts. Search for “msconfig” and select the “Diagnostics” boot option. Reboot your PC and see if crashes persist in clean boot mode.
Scan Event Viewer Errors
The Windows Event Viewer logs detailed error data that may reveal the cause of your crashes. Search for “Event Viewer” in the search menu and go through the various logs like “System” looking for critical errors around the times of the crashes.
Test with a New User Account
Create a brand new user profile on your PC without any apps and settings that may be causing conflicts. Log into the new account and use your PC normally to see if crashes still happen, which could indicate a wider system problem.
Run Hardware Diagnostics
To fully test components like your RAM, hard drive, and CPU for errors, run extended diagnostics from your PC or motherboard manufacturer. Diagnostics can detect faulty hardware that standard Windows tools might miss.
Restore Old System Image
If you have a system image backup from before the crashes occurred, you can fully restore Windows to that known-good state. Use the “Backup and Restore” control panel to restore your image and overwrite your current Windows installation.
Reset Your BIOS
Issues with your BIOS settings may potentially lead to instability. Open your BIOS, load optimized defaults and reset to clear out any bad settings. Check your boot order and services as well.
Test Hardware in Another PC
If possible, try swapping your RAM, hard drive, GPU, and other components into another PC to isolate the faulty piece of hardware causing your crashes. Test each piece separately until you identify the problematic component.
Critical process crashes can stem from a range of hardware and software issues, but are usually repairable. Start with simpler steps like scanning for system file errors, checking drivers, and monitoring temperatures. If basic fixes don’t resolve the issue, advanced steps like hardware diagnostics and clean boots may be required. But in most cases, you should be able to troubleshoot and eliminate those frustrating critical process died errors by methodically working through potential solutions.