“Your Pc ran into a problem that couldn’t handle, and it needs to restart…”, is one common phrase anyone who is familiar with any kind of the Microsoft windows OS has seen before or may have encounter.
If you see that, sorry you have been struck with Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). It comes with some potential damages such as lost of previous data. Well! what really maybe the cause and more importantly how it can be prevented? Let’s see below [no_toc]
The number one reason why windows normally crashes is hardware conflict. Each hardware device of a computer communicates to each other through an Interrupt Request Channel (IRQ). These are supposed to be unique for each device.
For example, a printer usually connects internally on IRQ 7 and the keyboard usually uses IRQ 1. Each device will try to hog a single IRQ for itself.
If there are a lot of devices, or if they are not installed properly, two of them may end up sharing the same IRQ number. When the user tries to use both devices at the same time, a crash can happen.
To check if your computer has a hardware conflict follow these steps:
- Right click on the Start Menu, then click on device manager
- In the list of the available devices, check for those with the usual warning sign “yellow triangle with exclamation sign (!)”. NB: If you don’t find any, there are no hardware conflicts.
- Right click on such devices and select properties
- In the pop up window click on the Resource tap, to check for the particular device’s IRQ number, take note and check on other device IRQ number to see if any of the devices are sharing the same number.
Sometimes a device might share an IRQ with others. This is known as ‘IRQ holder for PCI steering’. This can be ignored. The best way to fix this problem is to remove the problem device and reinstall it.
Sometimes you may have to find more recent drivers on the internet to make the device function properly. If the device is a sound card, or a modem, it can often be fixed by moving it to a different slot on the motherboard.
To be fair to Microsoft, the problem with IRQ numbers is not of its making. It is a legacy problem going back to the first PC designs using the IBM 8086 chip. Initially there were only eight IRQs. Today there are 24 IRQs in a PC.
Ram (Random-Access Memory) problems might bring on the Blue Screen of Death with a message saying “Fatal Exception Error”. A fatal error indicates a serious hardware problem. Sometimes it may mean a part is damaged and will need replacing.
But a fatal error caused by Ram might be caused by a mismatch of chips. For example, mixing 70-nanosecond (70ns) RAM with 60ns RAM will usually force the computer to run all the Ram at the slower speed. This will often crash the machine if the Ram is overworked.
One way around this problem is to enter the BIOS settings and increase the wait state of the Ram. This can make it more stable. Another way to troubleshoot a suspected RAM problem is to rearrange the Ram chips on the motherboard, or take some of them out.
Then try to repeat the circumstances that caused the crash. When handling RAM try not to touch the gold connections, as they can be easily damaged. Modern RAM chips are either parity (ECC) or non-parity (non-ECC). It is best not to mix the two types, as this can cause trouble.
EMM386 error messages refer to memory problems but may not be connected to bad RAM. This may be due to free memory problems often linked to old DOS-based programs.
Often the first sign of a virus infection is instability. Some viruses erase the boot sector of a hard drive, making it impossible to start. This is why it is a good idea to create a Windows start-up disk.
Virus protection requires constant vigilance. A virus scanner requires a list of virus signatures in order to be able to identify viruses. These signatures are stored in a DAT file. DAT files should be updated weekly from the website of your antivirus software manufacturer. There are a couple of quality antiviruses on the internet which you can download to protect your PC.
Central Processing Units (CPUs) are usually equipped with fans to keep them cool. If the fan fails or if the CPU gets old it may start to overheat and generate an error called a kernel error. This is a common problem in chips that have been overclocked to operate at higher speeds than they are supposed to.
One remedy is to get a bigger better fan and install it on top of the CPU. Specialist cooling fans/heat sinks are available in computer store on the internet or local shops. CPU problems can often be fixed by disabling the CPU internal cache in the BIOS. This will make the machine run more slowly, but it should also be more stable.
Power supply problems
A power surge or spike can crash a computer as easily as a power cut. If this has become a nuisance for you then consider buying a uninterrupted power supply (UPS).
This will give you a clean power supply when there is electricity, and it will give you a few minutes to perform a controlled shutdown in case of a power cut. It is a good investment if your data are critical, because a power cut will cause any unsaved data to be lost.
Do you know of other causes of PC crashing? Leave them in the comment section