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Windows 8 shouldn’t blue-screen as frequently as Windows 98 3 Windows 98 Bugs Worth Revisiting 3 Windows 98 Bugs Worth Revisiting Is it just nostalgia that keeps me attached to this OS, or was Windows 98 actually worth remembering? This operating system released 15 years ago had its ups and downs. Critics have been pretty harsh... Read More  did, but it isn’t perfect. Most blue screens and application crashes aren’t even Windows’ fault — they’re often caused by faulty hardware Why Does Windows Crash? The Top 10 Reasons Why Does Windows Crash? The Top 10 Reasons Oh, great. Another blue screen, boot issue or frozen screen in Windows. Now you have to restart and lose most or all of the work you’d been trying to accomplish. It’s frustrating both because of... Read More , buggy hardware drivers, and other problems with third-party software.  These tips will help you identify exactly what’s wrong with your PC and fix it.

Get Information About the Problem

The blue screen of death (BSOD) is simplified on Windows 8, with most of the confusing text eliminated.  The most important piece of information — the error code — is still available here. This code will help you identify and fix the problem, so be sure to note it when a blue screen appears.

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By default, Windows automatically reboots after the blue screen of death occurs. You my come back to your computer and find it rebooted without you getting a chance to see the error message. Windows creates memory dump files with information about the blue screen of death, but it isn’t easy to view them with the tools included in Windows.

We like NirSoft’s BlueScreenView for this. Download and open the utility to see a list of previous blue screens. The “bug check string” is the most important piece of information here.

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If no blue screens appear here, you’ll need to configure Windows to create error dumps when blue screens occur. To do this, open the Control Panel and navigate to System and Security > System > Advanced system settings > Startup and recovery settings. Ensure Windows is set to create memory dumps when a system crash occurs.

You can also prevent Windows from automatically restarting when a BSOD occurs from here. This will allow you to see the blue screen and error message, even if you were away from your computer when it occurred.

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If you’ve encountered a particularly bad problem, your computer may actually be blue-screening every time you restart, preventing you from using Windows normally. If this is the case, you’ll likely see the Advanced startup options screen when you start your computer. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings and enter Safe Mode to identify and fix problems with your computer.

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You can often find information about blue screens and application crashes in the Control Panel’s Action Center. Open the Action Center and you should see some information if errors have been occurring. Click View archived messages to view other recent messages if none appear here.

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If you’re just dealing with application crashes or other system problems that don’t result in blue screens, you can find information about such errors in the Windows Event Viewer. Press Windows Key + X 8 Super Windows 8.1 Tweaks For Power Users 8 Super Windows 8.1 Tweaks For Power Users With Windows 8.1 came many changes. Some options are completely new, others were changed or moved. Whether you're using Windows 8.1 on a desktop, tablet, or something in between, these tweaks will come in handy! Read More and click Event Viewer to open it. You’ll find information about application and system problems under the Windows Logs section.

There will likely be quite a few error messages in here even if your computer is working properly — that’s even part of the “Windows tech support” phone call scam Cold Calling Computer Technicians: Don't Fall for a Scam Like This [Scam Alert!] Cold Calling Computer Technicians: Don't Fall for a Scam Like This [Scam Alert!] You've probably heard the term "don't scam a scammer" but I've always been fond of "don't scam a tech writer" myself. I'm not saying we're infallible, but if your scam involves the Internet, a Windows... Read More .

Check for error messages that occurred around the time you had the crash or system problem.

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Find Help With Your Specific Problem

If you’re having trouble with a blue screen and want to identify the root cause, you should head to a search engine like Google or Bing and search for the error code from the blue screen. This error code is the clue you need to identify your problem and find more information about what’s causing it and how to fix it.

This tip doesn’t just apply to blue screens. Perform a search for various app crashes you’re encountering and you should find help, too.

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The Windows Action Center will theoretically help here. In addition to displaying information, it can check with Microsoft online and inform you if a solution is available for your problem. Unfortunately, this tool doesn’t seem to do much. The Action Center usually doesn’t find a solution Should You Pay More Attention to Windows Software Error Reports? [Geeks Weigh In] Should You Pay More Attention to Windows Software Error Reports? [Geeks Weigh In] Windows tracks every application crash and freeze on your system. It records detailed information about the crashes and even tries to provide a solution to each error report, helping you fix problems. With that in... Read More  in our experience.

It’s worth a try, but don’t expect it to fix your problem.

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Troubleshoot and Fix Your PC

If you can’t find any information online that relates to your specific problem, you should try these general troubleshooting steps. These tips will help fix almost any problem you encounter. If you can’t use your computer normally, try booting into Safe Mode before performing these steps. Use Startup Repair to fix Windows How To Resolve Windows 8 Boot Issues How To Resolve Windows 8 Boot Issues Windows 8 uses a new "hybrid boot" feature to improve boot times. When you shut down, your computer doesn't actually shut down normally - it performs a sort of limited "hibernate" that stores a state... Read More  if it won’t start up at all.

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Ask yourself whether you’ve recently installed any hardware drivers or other software. For example, if you install a new hardware driver and your computer is blue-screening, that hardware driver may be causing the problem. First, boot into Safe Mode How To Boot Into Safe Mode In Windows 8 How To Boot Into Safe Mode In Windows 8 In Safe Mode, you can troubleshoot and fix Windows issues. When you enter Safe Mode, Windows loads a minimal environment that ensures a stable system. Read More .

Then try uninstalling the hardware driver or software package you recently installed from there.

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If the problem started recently, try performing a System Restore What You Need To Know About Windows System Restore What You Need To Know About Windows System Restore Imagine the trouble you could find yourself in, if your system failed! The Windows System Restore feature could save your butt. This article explains how to create and use Windows restore points. Read More .

The System Restore feature will revert your Windows system files to a previous point in time. If system files are corrupted or there’s any other problem with them, System Restore can get them back to a working state. The System Restore feature won’t erase or roll back any of your personal files, just system files.

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Performing a malware scan is also a good idea. Use an antivirus tool to scan your computer for malware 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer We would like to think that the Internet is a safe place to spend our time (cough), but we all know there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites that have worked... Read More and remove anything it finds. Even the Windows Defender antivirus included with Windows 8 Five Surprising Facts About Windows 8 Five Surprising Facts About Windows 8 Windows 8 is full of surprising changes – whatever you think about Windows 8, Microsoft certainly isn’t being timid this time around. From integrated antivirus protection and less-disruptive updating to the removal of the Windows... Read More can help here, but you may also want to try using another antivirus.

bootable antivirus tool BitDefender Rescue CD Removes Viruses When All Else Fails BitDefender Rescue CD Removes Viruses When All Else Fails Read More  like a BitDefender Rescue CD or an avast! Rescue Disk can also be useful.

These tools will scan your computer from outside Windows, preventing malware from interfering.

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If it’s an application crash — or even a blue screen caused by a hardware driver — try updating the affected software by downloading the latest version of the software from the developer’s website. If it’s a hardware driver, visit your hardware manufacturer’s website and download the latest driver version for your specific hardware. Updates can fix crashes and other problems with software.

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If you can’t fix the problem at all, Windows 8 makes it easy and fast to get a clean system. Refresh your PC How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More  to keep your files but get a fresh operating system — this is basically a quick way to reinstall Windows.

You’ll just need to reinstall and set up your desktop programs afterwards. This gives you a fresh system to start out with, free of malware, corrupted files, and buggy software.

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Some blue screens are caused by failing hardware. For example, if your RAM is faulty, your CPU is overheating, or any component inside your computer has a hardware problem How To Test Your PC For Failing Hardware How To Test Your PC For Failing Hardware Good PC ownership is a lot like good car ownership. You do more than just use it, you learn something about how it works. You don't need to be a PC technician or a mechanic,... Read More , blue screens may occur. If this is the problem, you won’t be able to fix it by messing with your computer’s software. You’ll need to replace the faulty component.

If your computer is still under warranty, you should contact your computer manufacturer, inform them of the problem, and ask them to fix it for you. They’ll likely ask you to troubleshoot your computer by refreshing your PC before they’ll take it back and fix or replace it.

These tricks should help you troubleshoot and fix nearly any problem you find. There are a huge number of different problems you could encounter, so be sure to read up on the exact error you’re seeing.

Image Credit: jchapiewsky on Flickr, Thawt Hawthje on Flickr

  1. MAX
    May 22, 2015 at 8:45 am

    i'm getting 0x000021 and cant get to my desktop. i wasable to fix it once by getting a list of updates installed through cmd and manually uninstalling them through cmd but i cant remember how i did it and cant find the info online

  2. stanss
    May 12, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Evilvidia, thank you for your comment. I have an semi-older computer that I upgraded from 7 to 8 and its been an nightmare. I have troubleshooted so many things. I have taken it to a few different people and they are stumped (their fix was to reinstall, reinstall the OS - talk about chasing one's tail). I am switching back to windows 7 and my next PC will hopefully be able to handle W8.

    Tremendously,

    Stanss

  3. viswa
    March 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    My laptop repeats the same message even if I force restart it and it does not restart after gathering information

  4. stacey
    February 11, 2015 at 1:22 am

    This did not help me at all

  5. rahul sahni
    December 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    how to fix video_tdr_failure(atikmpag.sys)

  6. Carolyn Barnett
    May 25, 2014 at 11:34 am

    It is a frightening thing to see the blue screen of death on your computer and it leaves you with a sense of dread.

  7. Evilvidia
    May 11, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Oh the trouble I am having with Nvidia Drivers and Windows 8! I was an early adopters of the OS and despite all the negativity about it I actually quite like the interface and its speed. My only issue was/is with Nvidia Drivers.

    Running on a late 2011 model Asus Ideapad the Asus Nvidia Driver version 275 is the only one that works and is for Xp, Vista and 7 originally. Unfortunately, because that driver is so outdated every so often it seems to get updated automatically.

    Here it updates to one that either causes games to free, crash, or Windows BSOD. I have tried every driver since 275 and the latest including the betas. None of them work. There are hundreds of posts complaining about this to Nvidia, EA, Origin etc. Still Nvidia cannot seem to be able to create more up-to-date driver that can handle its graphics cards.

    Any games based on the Frostbite engine are a no go! They crash regularly and even if I manage to run it, then I have to deal with tremendous lag. I have a high end system.

    From my own experience and what I read online I would definitely suggest that if you cannot resolve BSOD issues with Windows 8 related to Graphics Cards; go back to 7.

  8. Nicholas Green
    May 11, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Most Windows errors I have encountered happily generate an easy to find error code and when I Google the error code I find that numerous other people have encountered the same error code too. What amazes me about these error codes is that on investigating further in the Microsoft forums, it turns out that although Microsoft (presumably) wrote the Windows software that generated and reported the error code, they don't have the first clue what the error means or how to resolve it.

  9. Jacob
    May 9, 2014 at 3:55 am

    At least the blue screen of death is not intimidating anymore lol

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