What to Do When Windows Gets Really Messed Up

“To err is human,” the old joke goes. “But to really mess things up requires a computer.”

This Answer Line collection concentrates on the absolute disasters of Windows computing–the problems that threaten your PC, your career, and your peace of mind. Here’s what to do when Windows throws the dreaded Blue Screen of Death your way, and how to restore your OS even if you’ve lost the original restore CD.

To regain some of your own peace of mind, join the community in our Answer Line forum or send your technology questions to answer@pcworld.com.

Why Does My PC Keep Dying With a Blue Screen of Death?

Gael Busson, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

What’s worse than the sudden, unexpected appearance of a blue screen filled with white text? Recurring appearances of blue screens filled with white text. The fewer times you have to read the maddeningly passive-voice observation “A problem has been detected and Windows has been shut down…,” the better.
Microsoft calls these freeze-frame moments “stop errors,” but everyone else uses a much more descriptive title: The Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). They occur whenever Windows senses a problem that won’t let it operate properly.

When you encounter a BSoD, there’s not much you can do except mourn your lost data (whatever was in memory but not yet saved to disk), reboot your machine, and go on with your life. If you start getting them regularly, however, you have a problem that must be addressed.

The question is, what’s causing the problem?

The Blue Screen of Death; click for an enlarged image.

Believe it or not, BSoD screens actually contain some useful information–albeit not much. The next time your monitor and mood suddenly turn blue, grab a pen and a sheet of paper and jot these items down before rebooting:

The problem description: Write down whatever text appears between the boilerplate first paragraph (“A problem has been detected…”) and the one that begins “If this is the first time…”
• Technical details: Write down everything that appears under the heading ‘Technical information’.

Once you’ve rebooted, use your favorite Internet search engine to find pages that mention both BSoD and some of the terms that you jotted down. The statement in all caps with underlines instead of spaces will likely be useful here.

If a Web search doesn’t yield helpful information, ask yourself what has changed on your PC lately. Did you add hardware or update a driver just before the problem became common?

Driver Roll Back; click for an enlarged image.

Bad drivers often give Windows the blues. If you recently updated a driver, try reverting to an older version. Here’s how:

1.    Select Start, Run (in Vista, Run is enough), type devmgmt.msc, and press Enter.
2.    Double-click the device in question, click the Driver tab, and then click the Roll Back Driver button.

Conversely, if you recently added new hardware to your system, installing a more recent version of the driver may fix the problem. Check the vendor’s Web site to see whether there’s an update.

A bad RAM module is another potential cause of BSoDs. You can test your modules easily with Memtest 86, a free program downloadable at Memtest.org. Memtest isn’t a Windows program, and you must boot it before running it. You can download it as a CD image .iso file. Nero, Easy Media, and other disc-authoring programs can easily burn this .iso file into a bootable CD. Once you’ve burned the CD, boot and see whether Memtest finds any problems.

Overheating is another common culprit. Check your computer’s air vents for blockage. If you have a desktop, open it and use an air canister to remove any dust you find. (If you have a laptop, check with your vendor to see whether you can clean out dust without resorting to professional intervention.)

And while your desktop is open, check the internal connections to confirm that all of them are firmly attached. A loose connection is yet another possible cause of Blue Screens of Death.

As with virtually every other major Windows problem, the fault may lie not in your hardware, but in your Registry. If you can, use System Restore to return that great compendium of necessities and problems to the state it was in on a date before the problem arose.

Or you can try running a Registry cleaner. As I have in the past, I recommend ToniArts’ free EasyCleaner and ChemTable’s $40 Reg Organizer for this purpose.

If all else fails, back up your data and take your PC to a professional. It’s OK to admit that you can’t fix some things yourself.


30 comments so far

  1. Evasi0n download on

    By knowing how to appear for the very best ipad movie downloads, you will be in a position to closely adhere to some of the
    latest blockbuster hits this year. Perhaps, you want to see the newest flicks such as The Vacationer by Johnny Depp, Burlesque by Christina Aguilera, Black Swan by
    Natalie Portman, and a entire lot more. This can actually be extremely practical
    since you can now watch these movies right at the comforts
    of your house.

    Crunch Gear is reporting, Its no longer illegal under the DMCA to jailbreak your Apple iphone or
    bypass a DVDs CSS in purchase to obtain fair use footage for educational purposes or criticism.
    These are the new guidelines that were handed down moments ago by the U.S.

    Copyright Workplace. This is truly big. Like, truly big.

    These dismal figures can primarily be blamed on the wait around for the new Apple iPhone
    five keynote announcement, which is rumored to be on
    Sept. twelfth, 2012. On Sept. 21st, the formal Apple iphone five launch
    date will allegedly consider location. Via previous encounter, it may also
    be assumed that a 7 days prior to the launch, reservations ought to
    be feasible via the on-line Apple Store.

    Typing on its digital keyboard is even worse than you think.
    You have to modify down to set your hands on the keyboard which is
    awkward for most people. You might encounter difficulties while creating long email messages.

    To sum it up, right here are the steps that you need to follow
    in order to consider up the job of creating apps.Get a great idea for an app, and get appropriate monetary backing.

    Objective C is not a tough programming language to pick up, and anyone who is proficient with C or C++, can learn it effortlessly.
    There are many great publications in the marketplace for
    newbies that will be helpful, and even the Apple Builders Site
    has some very useful information about the language.

    As we all know Apple iPad two has been introduced in two various models.
    3G + Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi models. Although the exact cost for both the models will be disclosed in coming hrs.Presently, apple is
    not accepting any pre-purchase offers in United kingdom.

    So online store and real-globe are the only couple of options
    for iPad 2 offers.

    Use GoogleDocs to store your Function documents. Why? You will
    be in a position to browse them utilizing the Iphone.
    So, using your phone you will be able to appear up any info that you might or
    else have on your desktop or notebook machine. Google will be in cost
    or maintaining the security of your paperwork and you will have the comfort of becoming in a position to see any info that
    you need wherever you discover yourself, as lengthy as you nonetheless have
    your Iphone, of program. The address to use for this is http://docs.google.com/m – this is a
    see on your GoogleDocs specially optimized for viewing on
    a little display gadget.

    The Yoga Stretch app acts as your pleasant Yoga instructor.
    If you’re acquainted with this type of exercise, you can personalize your periods.
    There are a number of pre-designed periods for newbies as
    nicely. Audio directions are also accessible along with these periods, if you wish to have them.
    Clear instructions and pictures accompany every pose which makes this a consumer-friendly app certainly.

    WinX DVD Ripper for Mac constantly updates to
    support converting and ripping DVD with the latest duplicate protections.
    So you can often add the latest DVD movies on to H.264 MP4 for iPad on Mac, like backup
    DVD Alice in Wonderland to iPad, transfer DVD
    The Princess and the Frog to iPad, just name a few. For the detail info about how to change DVD to H.264 MP4 for iPad on
    Mac you can check WinX DVD Ripper for Mac’s User Manual.

  2. skin whitening home remedies on

    We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
    Your site offered us with valuable info to work on.
    You’ve performed a formidable activity and our whole community
    shall be grateful to you.

  3. Free Realms Cheats on

    You should take part in a contest for one of the highest
    quality sites on the net. I am going to highly recommend this website!

  4. Clash of Clan Cheats on

    I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding
    more. Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this information for my

  5. ciltep on

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  6. aardvarkmultimedia.com on

    One of the best about jailbreak would be to open your iPhone.
    Switch on your laptop or iPad and switch on the Wi Fi adapter.
    Quick, great-quality audio + what more would you need?

  7. koti.mbnet.fi on

    Purchase plans of keys within the shades the recipient likes.
    Enjoy the colors of Ireland utilizing free printables from coloring.ws.
    Another difference is to create a “related” centre.

  8. blogspot.nl on

    You will get the low cost offers and totally free gifts on the purchase of iPhones from these retailers.
    Of course, that doesn’t imply you have to get caught
    with a poor deal on a plan for your new Apple iphone.

  9. installous help on

    The price could go up as a lot as $50 per handset. Believe of a day you went for shopping,
    and purchased things for more than a thousand bucks. The extremely idea of net
    is synonymous with your pcs and laptops.

  10. cydia sources on

    Any cellphone can be personalized with a ringtone. Breaking tends to make your phone much more than just a item for communication.
    In the meantime, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is aiming for
    a new document.

  11. Christie on

    Gather a list, plan ahead, and have items easy to get at for the afternoon of
    the party. Try these 3 simple activities that will assist your infant improve vocabulary, coordination
    and motor skills.

  12. cydia tweaks on

    It was about 500.00 and thought it was the dumbest transfer ever.
    Amazon introduced the Tablet Pc Kindle Hearth.
    Jailbreaking your iPhone will void the warranty which means no assistance
    from Apple or AT&T.

  13. It can increase the quantity of icons in the dock up to ten. Moths lay
    their eggs in some of the seed pods, and their larvae sets up store within. It can be downloaded
    by opening Cydia and search for the Winterboard.

  14. Take-all advice with a grain of salt, but if
    you notice something negative, I would avoid the dentist.

    There-you will like bags and Dora t-shirts,
    hats for lunch-box, umbrella, men and additional.

  15. what do carbohydrates do on

    Hi, Neat post. There is an issue together with your web site
    in web explorer, may test this? IE still is the market chief
    and a large component to folks will omit your magnificent writing because of
    this problem.

  16. Gary on

    Lack of expertise results in all the distress and anxiety.

    We were currently compelled to maneuver our horses. Roses’ timeless elegance will make your special
    evening an extremely special day for everyone.

  17. Small touches such as plants, pictures and posters can make the work environment more personable and attractive which goes some way to improving the experience of
    spending long periods of time in the office.
    Even while seated at your home, you are able to browse a huge number of furniture galleries with a few clicks of your mouse.
    When your company starts to achieve its target, it thinks to improve the condition of it making a lot changes in the interior designing and offering a lot
    of opportunities to your employees.

  18. consega.zendesk.com on

    Having read this I believed it was rather informative.
    I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending
    way too much time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  19. Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is
    fantastic, let alone the content!

  20. goji pro contra indicações on

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker
    who was doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this subject here on your site.

  21. Hello, its nice paragraph about media print, we all
    understand media is a wonderful source of data.

  22. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire
    out a designer to create your theme? Superb work!

  23. alteril maximum dosage on

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful blogs on the internet.
    I am going to recommend this blog!

  24. hello!,I really like your writing so so much!
    percentage we keep in touch extra approximately your article on AOL?
    I need an expert in this house to solve my problem. May be that’s you!

    Taking a look ahead to see you.

  25. Marta on

    Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to
    my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed
    the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.

    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off
    topic but I had to tell someone!

  26. We stumbled over here different website and thought I may as well check
    things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to finding out about your web page
    yet again.

  27. Bailey on

    My relatives all the time say that I am killing my time here at net, however
    I know I am getting knowledge everyday by reading thes pleasant posts.

  28. http://baaa.be on

    Doar cum pot gândire pentru el și , probabil, nu
    irita sau mizerie ea ? Noțiuni de un nou loc de joacă de brand ar putea fi destul
    de mare sau ai putea face ceva simplu și accesibil la început .

  29. If some one needs to be updated with hottest technologies therefore he must be go to see this website and be up to date everyday.

  30. somadrol e seguro on

    I have read some good stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for
    revisiting. I wonder how so much attempt you place to create the
    sort of excellent informative website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: