Microsoft is better known for its operating system Windows, but if you've ever asked a Windows users if they've had any problems with their PC, they'll probably tell you about their BSODs and the ways it drove them up-the-wall to solve.

We've experienced quite a few ourselves, so here's a guide on the potential cause behind your magical blue screen. Read next: How to build a PC.

Guide to BSOD codes: what is a BSOD?

A Blue Screen of Death, better known as a BSOD is Windows’ way of telling you that there has been a fatal system error with your system and as Windows can no longer operate, it has popped up a BSOD so that you’re made aware.

Since Windows NT 3.1 which dates back to 1993, BSODs have been informing their users when problems arise. There is a whole host of different BSODs which we aren’t going to list a full set within this guide, due to the sheer number of codes out there. Microsoft have compiled list of Bug Check Codes for you to view. Read next: Windows 10 review.

Guide to BSOD codes: is a BSOD safe?

You might get annoyed by a BSOD, especially if you lose work or you’re mid-game, but there’s often a good reason that you’re having BSODs. This especially applies to you if you’re having them on a regular basis. Sometimes it can be a simple update which is causing the problem, such as a new graphics card update that doesn’t bode well with your system’s internal.

Guide to BSOD codes - Blue Screen Of Death

In other cases it could be a serious hardware issue, such as having a faulty CPU cooler which is making your CPU overheat, this is where your PC will automatically BSOD to prevent your hardware from getting further damaged. Read next: Should I upgrade to Windows 10?

Often BSODs will be associated with software/BIOS problems which can be fixed be yourself or someone, but in some cases you’ll have hardware issues which can’t be fixed without a physical warranty replacement of your faulty hardware. For example, if you’re constantly getting RAM/memory related BSODs, we would suggest testing your RAM through Memtest86+ and Prime95, both of which will determine if you’ve actually got faulty hardware (or insufficient voltages running through them). 

Guide to BSOD codes: how to identify a BSOD code

Back in the days, you used to have to note down the BSOD code being displayed on your screen, as time has gone by Microsoft have provided more information within the BSOD page to give you a more detailed breakdown of what has happened. The format of the BSOD has slightly changed with the introduction of Windows 8 and 10, where instead of getting a deep blue screen, you will get a smiley face and a reassuring message that Windows is trying to solve the error. We should also state that in Windows 10, you might get a QR code, which you can scan with your smartphone, to have quick access to the Microsoft support page of your related Error Code. The QR BSOD is available on later build versions of Windows 10.

Guide to BSOD codes - bluescreenview

If however you don’t happen to write down the problem, there is a very useful program called BlueScreenView created by NirSoft. This very simple program or standalone application will display the error code and even provide you with a time stamp.

Another good way to work out the cause of your BSOD is to look within Event Viewer which can be found by searching for it within the Windows Start Menu or MetroUI on Windows 8. Read next: How to stay on Windows 7 & 8 forever.

Guide to BSOD codes: most common BSOD error codes

There are a few common BSOD error codes which a lot of people might have faced, below we will go through them and give you a few pointers to try and work out the problem. Remember, every system is different – and no matter how similar your system might be to another, there could still be variances in driver or even software.

Guide to BSOD codes - Bug Check Codes

Below we will list the most common BSODs, a link to Microsoft’s website and our suggested work-around.

STOP Error 0x00000001: Drivers are often to blame from 0x001, as they might be conflicting with software. However, an even more problematic issue is registry related, where Windows is having problems with its files. We would recommend as a first instance to check your drivers and if you’re still getting BSODs to run a Windows System Repair.

In extremely rare circumstances, you might find that you’ve got too much RAM installed for your motherboard or BIOS to handle. Ensure you check the amount of RAM your motherboard supports (QVL list) and ensure your BIOS is up-to-date.

STOP Error 0x00000005: Often caused by drivers which are either corrupt or not correctly installed. We suggest re-installing your PC’s drivers to the latest drivers – even if you’ve just done so. For further guidance, look in the Event Viewer to determine which driver might be creating the BSOD. Some people have also reported the issue to be related to anti-virus programs and firewalls – so it might be worth checking those too.

STOP Error 0x0000000A / STOP Error 0x000000D1: These two errors are created by a multiple variety of problems, making it one of the most annoying BSOD to decipher. It can be created by device drivers being incompatible or outdated, a Windows system services making your operating system unstable or even outdated BIOS and incorrect RAM timings/voltages. We would suggest looking in Event Viewer to see if there are more specific details you could extract and see if there’s a lead towards your detective work.

STOP Error 0x0000007E: We’ve found the culprits to be antivirus, spyware, malware and firewall software that create problems within the registry to spring up this BSOD. We don’t see it often now, with a lot of these programs being compatible and fully updated automatically, but would suggest looking around for software or ensuring your current program is up-to-date.

In more extreme cases and for times where there’s a recurrence of BSODs, we would suggest repairing Windows and checking your disk through CHKDSK (hard drive/SSD). The BSOD can also spring to life when there’s a problem within the critical Windows files and a corrupt registry will create problems for Windows.

Finally, a very simple another simple check is to ensure that your boot priority is correct within your BIOS. The only reason your boot priority might have changed is if you have previously changed the cables around or updated your BIOS.

STOP Error 0x00000023 / STOP Error 0x00000024: You’ll find these two errors related to your file system, whereby you’ve either got a corrupt disk or insufficient memory to cope with your processes. Make sure you’ve got enough RAM in your system for your tasks – check by looking in Task Manager to see if you’re exceeding your memory capacity.

If you’re still running into problems run CHKDSK and if problems still continue, proceed in repairing Windows. Read next: How to fix driver issues in Windows 10 & Windows 8. 

There are also related BSODs which are caused by RAM issues, these can be caused by overclocking or having insufficient RAM voltage (which can be increased through the BIOS): STOP Error 0x0000000A / STOP Error 0x000000D1 / STOP Error 0x0000009C / STOP Error 0x0000001A / STOP Error 0x0000002E / STOP Error 0x00000050.

Read next: How to enter the BIOS

Finally, some of you that might have overclocked your PC might need to increase/decrease your VCORE (CPU Core voltage), if you’ve received any of these error codes – of course they could be non-overclocking related issues too, but we’ve often found the codes below to appear whilst overclocking: STOP Error 0x0000007F / STOP Error 0x00000101 / STOP Error 0x0000001E / STOP Error 0x0000003B / STOP Error 0x0000003D.

Read next: How to overclock a CPU.

Guide to BSOD codes: user poll