Death to BSOD's - The Basics

By Hatrick
Jan 18, 2007
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. I'm working with Windows XP(Home) SP2. Details, therefore, may be different for you, but the principles seem sound and should be applicable in XP(Pro). Factual corrections and suggestions for improvement will be welcome.


    NOTE:- This began as a theoretical exercise inspired by all the BSOD posts on TS, but having twice, during the last 4 months, brought my aging computer back from the dead using the procedure outlined below - even though minidump analysis had indicated its imminent demise - I feel pretty confident that many disasters can be averted with a little work. The causes of BSOD's are almost as numerous as grains of sand on a beach but I hope this document will serve as a simple guide to help eliminate a few possibilities.


    The disk imaging routine is simplicity itself: the other much more work, with a less certain outcome. Having suitable software installed can save a lot of grief.

    THE SCENARIO.

    Your computer is working fine on Sunday: on Monday it boots succesfully, crashes sometime during the session and, by default, reboots. These things happen in complex systems so, if everything carries on as normal, your problem is solved.

    But suppose it crashes again some time after the succesful reboot, then reboots again automatically. The technically savvy among you may shut down, reboot in safe mode and select 'last known good'. However, if you google 'last known good' and read the Microsoft document on the subject, you will see that 'LKG' is the last time you *booted* successfully, so you may be actually booting back to the configuration which crashed - unless automatically rebooting also automatically selects 'LKG'! The 'troubleshooting' section of that document implies that 'LKG' saves the last successful boot and shutdown, but I'm not prepared to take that chance.

    RECOMMENDATIONS.

    The following suggestions, to eliminate some human error, - (and some BSOD's) might seem a little OTT, but I'm paranoid. The first step, below, should be done *now*, before you have an incident.

    (1)Rt click 'my computer'- properties - Advanced - Startup and Recovery - Settings - uncheck 'Automatically Restart'. This can also be selected as an option in 'safe mode'.

    When the first BSOD occurs, note the on screen message and the error codes, then *stop and think* (and find the copy of this document that you printed aginst a rainy day. You did, didn't you?.) Have you upgraded any drivers, installed any new programmes, used any of those irresistible 'windows tweaks' that promised to make your pc run like a Cray? Make notes of what you can recall - and be more cautious if you manage to get up and running again.

    (2) Reboot in safe mode and select 'LKG', which should take you back to a session which began and ended satisfactorily.

    (3) IF YOU HAVE A DISK IMAGING PROGRAMME AND A NOT TOO ANCIENT IMAGE ON DISK, CARRY ON FROM HERE. OTHERWISE GO TO (4):-

    (A) Back up your current Documents and Settings - and anything else you don't want to lose - to another partition/drive, or a CD/DVD/Flash drive. Not everything needs restoration but, in a potential disaster situation, just drag and drop the Documents and Settings folder somewhere safe.
    (B) Restore the image.
    Any of the following, except (E) and (G) could be omitted if you are completely confident of the integrity of your image but, as mentioned earlier, I'm paranoid.
    (C) Run sfc /scannow from the command line.
    (D) Run Disk Cleanup
    (E) Update your antivirus/spyware etc and do full system scans.
    (F) Defragment.
    (G) Restore your backups.

    An important reminder; the restored image is *exactly* as it was when made, i.e. same documents, emails, bookmarks etc., so a good backup routine, regularly performed, is essential to ensure a smooth recovery with your data intact. And the more recent your image, the better.

    With luck, you now have a clean operational system requiring only the additon of items added between the dates of image creation and crash. If not, try this:-

    http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic66350.html

    Between them, this approach and that advocated there have a very good chance of reducing BSOD's to manageable proportions.

    (4)IF YOU DON'T HAVE A DISK IMAGE AVAILABLE. (Why not?)

    (A) Back up your current Documents and Settings - and anything else you don't want to lose - to another partition/drive, or a CD/DVD/Flash drive. Not everything needs restoration but, in a potential disaster situation, just drag and drop the Documents and Settings folder somewhere safe.

    (B)Rt click 'my computer' - properties - hardware - Device Manager. If there are coloured symbols against any of the items, investigate, by clicking on them, and take appropriate action. If no apparent problems, do nothing. Don't be tempted to start upgrading drivers on the offchance that they may be responsible for the crash.

    (5) Control Panel - Performance and maintenance - Administrative tools - Computer management - Event viewer. Open each of the sections and see whether there are any significant pointers within.
    Note:- You can drag a shortcut to Event Viewer onto the Desktop for future use, if you wish. It saves all that pointing and clicking.

    (6) Use system restore to create a restore point then run a normal session, avoiding any adding, upgrading and tweaking. If there are no problems, the crash was probably due to something on the list you made, although it could, of course, just have been a random incident. If 'alles in ordnung' (I hope that's right), carry out the steps in (3),(C) to (G), above.

    If a crash occurs without you having made any changes, the restore point is obviously redundant, in which case restore to an earlier date and repeat (4)(B) and (5), followed by (3),(C) to (G). Then, if it occurs again, you can be reasonably confident that you have taken recent human error out of the equation - (always assuming that no one has been moving the pc or tugging on connections.)

    (7) Should you be out of luck, I suggest that you follow the plan outlined in this document:-

    http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic66350.html

    Between them, this approach and that advocated there have a very good chance of reducing BSOD's to manageable proportions.


    (8)But if, as I hope, you've cracked the problem, do get a disk imaging programme - there are both commercial and freeware versions on line - and image your now (hopefully) stable system. In future, create an image before every major change (or more often - recommended) so that you merely need to use 'LKG', followed by steps in (3) above if the system goes 'belly up'.

    An important reminder; a restored image is *exactly* as it was when made, i.e. same documents, emails, bookmarks etc., so a good backup routine, regularly performed, is essential to ensure a smooth recovery with your data intact. And the more recent your image, the better.
  2. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,251

    Nice post hatrick, should be moved to the guides section and stickied...
  3. Hatrick

    Hatrick Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 90

    Thanks, that would be nice, (an index would be better than stickies - who notices them?) but I can't help wondering if there were not a better way of bringing guides to prominence. I only discovered their existence when an earlier post was transferred.

    I'd bet that hardly anyone looks there before posting. Viewing numbers seem to bear me out.

    Cheers.
  4. Hatrick

    Hatrick Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 90

    This is an unapologetic bump.

    We are here to help people. The original post deals with a very common problem and offers an effective solution which I would like to make available to as many TS members/visitors as possible. So, unless the mods step in and prevent it, it will be recirculated a few times before being consigned to perdition.
  5. Hatrick

    Hatrick Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 90

    Just another run around the block to capture the passing trade.
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.


Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...


Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.