The Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) – Part I

If you’ve worked on a Windows PC, you’ve probably run into the aptly named “Blue Screen of Death,” “BSOD” or “Blue Screen” at one time or another. A Windows BSOD typically occurs after a fatal or critical system error/crash and will display as a blue screen with an error message. The error message may include the file or file(s) that caused the error, technical information about the error and some basic troubleshooting steps.

A BSOD may be triggered by a variety of factors including recent changes to hardware, issues with device drivers (ex: recently installed drivers, incompatible drivers, conflicting drivers), software conflicts, misconfigured BIOS settings and more. While not all Blue Screens will render your PC inoperable, potentially requiring a re-installation of Windows, some seriously fatal Blue Screens may, so be sure to backup your computer and files frequently to external storage (ex: external hard drive, network drive, cloud storage). I’ll include some suggestions for external hard drive and SSD storage at the end of this post.

When you first experience a BSOD, be sure to read the error message and make note of what the error message says, what file or file(s) may have caused the BSOD and any error codes that are displayed. Also make note of what you were doing prior to the BSOD as well as any changes you made to the computer prior to the Blue Screen (ex: installing new software or device drivers, running Windows Update, adding or modifying hardware to the computer). Having this information handy will be helpful if you need to research the cause of the BSOD to find a solution or if you're working with an IT professional, to provide your IT professional with as much detail about the Blue Screen so that your IT professional can troubleshoot further.

Once you have all this information, restart the computer to see if you can boot into Windows properly. Some Blue Screens may be one-offs and can be resolved with a restart. Others will require more comprehensive troubleshooting. If the BSOD is the result of a recent software or driver installation or update and/or the addition or modification of hardware, you may want to rollback the changes and/or uninstall the new software, drivers or hardware to see if the issue is resolved.

If you have not made any recent changes to the computer and you are able to boot back into Windows, be sure to take a moment to perform a full backup of your computer before performing any additional troubleshooting steps and before another BSOD occurs. If your computer gets stuck in a Blue Screen loop and you cannot get back into Windows by using the Windows Repair Utility or entering Safe Mode, you may need to re-format and re-install Windows. If you don’t have a recent backup of all your files, you could lose everything.

If you work with an IT professional, you should contact your IT professional and follow their specific recommendations. Your IT professional will have a better understanding of your specific computer setup and configuration and may be able to diagnose and resolve the issue faster than if you attempt to self-diagnose and troubleshoot the Blue Screen.

Below are some suggestions for external hard drives and external SSD storage which you can use to backup your computer. Please review carefully the system requirements for each product to determine if the product is compatible with your computer and where applicable, if the product is compatible with any backup software you are using.

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Samsung T5 Portable SSD (250GB) - https://amzn.to/2oca8Za

Samsung T5 Portable SSD (500GB) - https://amzn.to/2NkTvFE

Samsung T5 Portable SSD (1TB) - https://amzn.to/2NfHdhr

Samsung T5 Portable SSD (2TB) - https://amzn.to/2LtmxRz

Western Digital My Book Desktop (2TB) - https://amzn.to/2obzFlg

Western Digital My Book Desktop (4TB) - https://amzn.to/2P6sMwV