Windows 8 shouldn’t blue-screen as frequently as Windows 98 did, but it isn’t perfect. Most blue screens and application crashes aren’t even Windows’ fault — they’re often caused by faulty hardware, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Check for error messages that occurred around the time you had the crash or system problem.
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.
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 in our experience.
It’s worth a try, but don’t expect it to fix your problem.
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 if it won’t start up at all.
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.
Then try uninstalling the hardware driver or software package you recently installed from there.
If the problem started recently, try performing a System Restore.
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.
Performing a malware scan is also a good idea. Use an antivirus tool to scan your computer for malware and remove anything it finds. Even the Windows Defender antivirus included with Windows 8 can help here, but you may also want to try using another antivirus.
These tools will scan your computer from outside Windows, preventing malware from interfering.
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.
If you can’t fix the problem at all, Windows 8 makes it easy and fast to get a clean system. Refresh your PC 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.
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, 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.