How to fix the blue screen of death error in Windows 10

Windows 10 blue screen of death
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The blue screen of death is an infamous Windows 10 error that presents itself when the device system encounters a sudden issue. The computer will put a stop to all critical processes to prevent any damage being done to the operating system while also displaying a blue error screen. For any Windows 10 user, having the skills to fix the blue screen of death error is important. Often, the error will persist until the root cause is dealt with.

All important processes are brought to a stop when the blue screen appears, such as platforms, applications, and networks. This can cause unsaved files and data to be lost. 

What is the blue screen of death?

Should your computer’s Windows operating system detect a serious error, your display will become blue and will show a picture of a ‘sad face’ emoji. Accompanying this image will be the following: 

"Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart. We're just collecting some error info, and then we'll restart for you."

Attached to this phrase will be an error code denoting a generic issue. This is not, unfortunately, information as to the cause of the problem, nor will it detail solutions for the problem. It will, however, offer a surface-level sense of the problem.

Ranging from  'VIDEO_TDR_TIMEOUT_DETECTED' to 'CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED,” Microsoft systems have hundreds of stop error codes, both serious and less so. 

What are the most common blue screen error messages?

These are the most common error codes you will see when encountering a blue screen of death on Windows 10


A screenshot of the Windows Blue Screen of Death error

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Along with the generic error code, there may also be present on the screen a hexadecimal version of the error. With an experienced eye, certain users can take the parameters of the code and use them to reveal further information about the issue. This can then be used to find a solution.

In the example given above the blue screen of death error shows the following error code:


This is created through a fault in the boot-up process, often suggesting that there is a conflict between drivers or faulty hardware somewhere with the system.

For those without the same amount of IT expertise, however, the hexadecimal code can be difficult to get a grasp of. As such, it will not provide much information on the issue. 

What causes the blue screen of death?

Blue screen errors generally happen during an upgrade or after installing an app or updating a driver. However, it’s not uncommon to run into this error during general usage.

  • Insufficient space in system disk
  • Faulty device drivers
  • BIOS misconfiguration
  • Hard disk corruption
  • Unidentified bug of Windows 10
  • Outdated Windows operating system
  • Incorrect entries in the system's registry

In order to fix the Blue Screen of Death error on Windows 10, you need to determine whether you can access the desktop or if you’re locked out.

Fixing the blue screen of death with desktop access

If you maintain access to the desktop after seeing a blue screen error, the likelihood is that the issue can be related to an app installed recently, an out-of-date driver, or an update to Windows 10.  

To fix the error in this scenario, the following steps need to be performed: 

  • Check what Windows updates and drivers are installed
  • Update to new drivers if required
  • Remove any recently installed updates and drivers
  • Remove any problematic peripherals

How to check for the latest updates and drivers

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  1. Open the Start menu and click “Settings.”
  2. Click “Update & Security.”
  3. Click “Windows Update.”
  4. Click “Check for updates.”
  5. Follow all prompts to install the latest Window update if needed.

How to update the drivers on Windows 10

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  1. Type “Device Manager” into the Windows 10 search bar.
  2. Click “Device Manager.”
  3. Click the device category you suspect is causing the problem to expand it.
  4. Right-click the suspected faulty device.
  5. Click “Update driver.”
  6. Click “Search automatically for updated driver software.”

If this doesn't fix the blue screen error, download and install a newer version of the driver from your device manufacturer's website.

Uninstall incompatible updates, drivers, and third-party apps

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For the following, we'll be using Windows 10's older Control Panel view to uninstall software, as we find it's easier to use when looking for installed updates:

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Click “Uninstall a program” under the “Programs” headline.
  3. Click “Installed updates” in the left pane.
  4. Click the most recent update and click “Uninstall” above to delete the update.

Buggy drivers and Windows 10 updates can also cause the blue screen of death can. Uninstalling these bad updates will end the stop errors while also repairing potential malware vulnerabilities.

If the error appears after installing a specific driver, remove it using the following steps:

  1. Type “Device Manager” in the Windows 10 search bar and click on “Device Manager.”
  2. Click the malfunctioning device’s category to expand it.
  3. Right-click the malfunctioning device and click “Uninstall device.” Alternatively, you can roll back to the previous driver by selecting the “Properties” after right-clicking on the device. In the Properties window, open the “Driver” tab, click on the “Roll Back Driver” button, and click “OK” to confirm.

If the blue screen of death appeared after installing an app, this is the likely culprit. Uninstall the offending app using the following steps:

  1. Click the Start menu.
  2. Click “Settings”.
  3. Click “Apps”.
  4. Find the conflicting app in the list and click it.
  5. Click “Uninstall”.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the uninstallation.

Unplug incompatible peripherals

The blue screen of death can also occur if connected hardware isn't compatible with Windows 10. 

Visit your hardware manufacturer's support website to determine if it's compatible with Windows 10. If it’s incompatible, disconnect it and opt for a suitable replacement.

Fix the blue screen of death without desktop access

If you can't access the desktop, you can use features like System Restore and Safe Mode as workarounds. We will be going over the following:

  • Using System Restore to revert recent changes
  • Using Safe Mode to uninstall drivers and updates

Undo recent changes using System Restore

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  1. Launch the advanced startup settings by powering on your PC and pressing and holding the power button to interrupt the boot sequence.
  2. Repeat Step 1 two more times. After the third off-on power cycle, Windows 10 will automatically open in the advanced startup environment and display troubleshooting options.
  3. Click “Advanced options”.
  4. Click “System Restore”.
  5. Select the restore point created right before the blue screen appeared. Windows 10 usually creates a system restore point each time it installs an update, driver, or app.
  6. Click “Close”.
  7. Click “Next”.
  8. Click “Finish”.

By deploying a System Restore, a user is able to move back the device’s system software to a previous state in time. To use the System Restore feature, however, you must deploy Advanced Startup settings. After that, System Restore can eradicate your PC from all drivers, updates, changes, and apps. This includes changes made to fix the error after the creation of the restore point. 

Uninstall device drivers or Windows 10 updates in Safe Mode

  1. Launch the advanced startup settings by powering on your PC and pressing and holding the power button to interrupt the boot sequence.
  2. Repeat Step 1 two more times. After the third off-on power cycle, Windows 10 will automatically open in the advanced startup environment and display troubleshooting options.
  3. Select the “Startup Settings” option and click “Restart.”
  4. Press “F4” or the “4” once the reboot begins to select the “Enable Safe Mode” option.
  5. Uninstall Windows 10 updates or device drivers while in Safe mode.

Opening Windows in Safe Mode is another way to tackle the blue screen of death. Like System Restore, you can access Safe Mode through the advanced startup settings.

Blue screen of death errors are challenging but not impossible to fix

While stop errors can sometimes be overwhelming, Microsoft provides fixes for almost all types of errors that lead to a blue screen of death. 

Scanning for malware and backing up your data are other crucial steps you can take to minimize the impact of a sudden, unplanned downtime the blue screen error may cause.

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.

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