What is a Windows stop error commonly called?

A Windows stop error, more commonly known as a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), refers to an error screen displayed on Windows operating systems after a fatal system error causes the system to crash or stop functioning properly.

What causes a Blue Screen of Death?

A BSOD is caused by a critical error that the operating system cannot recover from. This critical error causes the Windows OS to stop and display the blue screen with details of the error rather than continue attempting to run. Some common causes of a BSOD include:

  • Hardware failure or malfunction
  • Device driver issues
  • Damaged system files or corrupted registry
  • Incompatible or buggy software
  • Overheating CPU or other components
  • Faulty memory (RAM)
  • Insufficient power supply
  • Virus or malware infection

When a BSOD occurs, the Windows OS crashes because a problem has occurred that prevents it from operating safely. The blue screen contains information about the error, including a stop code that identifies the specific cause. This helps IT professionals troubleshoot and identify failed hardware or software that requires attention.

What information is shown on the Blue Screen of Death?

The Blue Screen of Death displays the following key information about the critical error:

  • Stop code/stop error code – A hexadecimal number pointing to the specific cause
  • Driver or file path name – Indicates faulty driver or file
  • Error description – Brief description of error
  • Memory dumps – Contents of memory when error occurred
  • Troubleshooting info – Technical data for diagnostics

Examining the stop code, error message, and other context shown on a BSOD can help identify the root cause of the crash. The stop code is especially important, as it indicates the precise type of error, such as a memory management error, kernel security check failure, hardware driver issue, and so on.

What are some common Windows stop error codes?

Some examples of common stop error codes include:

Stop code Description

There are many other BSOD stop codes that point to specific error conditions. By looking up the stop code, it’s possible to narrow down the potential issues and troubleshoot the problem.

Why is the Blue Screen of Death blue?

The main reason the error screen is blue relates to how the Windows OS kernel handles catastrophic errors. When the kernel detects a fatal issue, it switches to a blue screen and specific text mode designed to make the information readable on any display or under any lighting conditions. The blue background with white text provides enough contrast to make the screen legible in most situations.

In older versions of Windows, including Windows 3.1 and 95/98, the screen was actually black and white. Blue screens were introduced beginning with Windows NT and 2000 and have remained blue since then. The consistency provides a universal indication across later Windows versions that a critical stop error has occurred.

How can I prevent or troubleshoot Blue Screen of Death errors?

There are a few key things you can do to help prevent or troubleshoot BSOD errors when they occur:

  • Install software and driver updates – Make sure Windows and all drivers are fully up to date
  • Regularly check system health – Monitor CPU temperature, disk errors, memory issues
  • Examine crash dump files – View details about the error root cause
  • Test components individually – Isolate any faulty hardware
  • Scan for malware – Eliminate any virus or malware infections
  • Undo recent changes – Roll back any new software, drivers or updates

Advanced diagnostic tools can also help troubleshoot BSOD crashes by analyzing memory dumps, system logs, heat levels and technical configuration details that may reveal the fault at the root of the error.

How can I fix a Blue Screen of Death?

Steps to fix a BSOD error include:

  1. Identify error details – Note the stop code and error message
  2. Research the stop code – Determine the cause based on the code
  3. Check system stability – Monitor crashes to see if BSOD is consistent
  4. Update drivers and Windows – Install latest stable drivers and updates
  5. Run SFC scan – System File Checker can replace corrupt files
  6. Undo changes – Roll back any new hardware, software or drivers
  7. Update BIOS – Check for new BIOS versions that may fix incompatibilities
  8. Clean boot – Start Windows with minimum drivers and services
  9. Test hardware – Swap out RAM modules, GPUs, drives to isolate faults
  10. Check temperatures – Overheating can cause crashes
  11. Reinstall Windows – Refresh the operating system as a last resort

With troubleshooting, it’s often possible to identify and rectify the specific hardware or software issue responsible for causing the BSOD error. However, in some cases, the root cause may remain unclear requiring backup of data and fully reinstalling Windows fresh.

Can I disable or block the Blue Screen of Death?

It is possible to disable or block the BSOD from being displayed when a fatal Windows error occurs. However, this is generally not recommended for the following reasons:

  • Prevents identifying error details – Stop code and messages useful for troubleshooting are hidden
  • Risk of data loss or damage – OS continues running in unstable state
  • Causes additional crashes – Subsequent crashes likely until root issue resolved
  • Makes troubleshooting harder – Harder to pin down root cause without error data
  • Prolongs problem – Just delays proper diagnosis and fix of underlying BSOD cause

Allowing the Blue Screen of Death to display provides the most information to identify and resolve the problem. Disabling BSOD display is generally discouraged except in certain cases, like an important live presentation where stopping the blue screen may allow time to save work and gracefully reboot the system.

What steps should be taken after a Blue Screen of Death?

After encountering a Blue Screen of Death, the following steps are recommended:

  1. Document error details – Take note of the stop code, file names and any messages
  2. Restart computer – Reboot to check if BSOD persists
  3. Check stability – See if system crashes again under normal use
  4. Back up data – Copy important files and data in case crash caused corruption
  5. Investigate minidump files – View crash dumps for error clues
  6. Google the stop code – Research online what may be causing it
  7. Update Windows and drivers – Install latest patches and stable drivers
  8. Clean boot PC – Restart with only essential services and software
  9. Test hardware – Switch out components like RAM to isolate faulty parts
  10. Scan for malware – Run antivirus to check for viruses or malware
  11. Consider reinstalling Windows – Refresh the OS if crashes continue

Following these steps can help successfully identify the underlying cause of a BSOD and prevent further crashes or data loss moving forward.


The Blue Screen of Death, while frustrating, provides important error information that assists in determining the root cause of Windows crashes. Being able to interpret the stop code, file names, and diagnostic data shown can help significantly speed up resolving the problem.

While BSOD errors may sometimes require advanced troubleshooting skills, checking for issues like device driver conflicts, Windows updates, overheating, and malware can help prevent many system crashes. Allowing the blue screen to display, documenting details, and investigating crash dump files enables isolating and fixing the underlying hardware or software fault.

Carefully going through BSOD post-crash steps helps get affected systems stable and operational again, avoiding data loss in the process. With some time and effort, the Blue Screen of Death can usually be eliminated by addressing the specific issue triggering the critical system errors.