John Carrona - BSOD analyst

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Preliminaries RSS Feed Subscribe to the RSS feed Last updated:  15 Sep 09

BSOD Troubleshooting Preliminaries

Hardware and virus issues can cause BSOD's.  Analysis of them is usually frustrating, taking weeks of time just to figure that the problem might be hardware related.  Try running the stuff here to see if there might be hardware issues.  You can upload your dump files and have the analysis started while running these tests and procedures - but please read the list completely before starting.


1.  A detailed description of what seems to cause the problem, and any "thoughts" that you may have about the issues - even if you don't think it's important.  More BSOD's are solved by an analysis of your "hunches" than are solved by WinDbg.  If you're overclocking, reset the system to default values before continuing.  Overclocking stresses hardware, and over time can lead to BSOD's.  This includes memory timings - set them to Default or Auto.

2.  When working inside of the case, make sure that the system isn't plugged in, and that the battery is removed if it's a laptop.  Use canned air (not a vacuum or an air compressor) to clean out the vents.
- Check to ensure all fans are working (PSU, CPU, and Video especially)

- Check to ensure that there's nothing clogging the heatsinks/coolers (PSU, CPU, and Video especially)

- Check to ensure that all cables are firmly seated

- Check to ensure that the memory sticks are clean (clean with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth) and that the slots are clean also (blow out with canned air).

Let us know what you did, and what you found.

3.  Use Speedfan to check your temps (free here):  SpeedFan - Access temperature sensor in your computer
Let us know the temps that are reported.

4.  Check for BIOS upgrades (read the release notes).  Don't update the BIOS unless you're sure that the update applies to the issues that you have.  If uncertain, ask us.

5.  Check your Power Supply for specifications, post both the specifications of your system and the specifications for the PSU.

6.  HD diagnostic located here: Hard Drive Diagnostic
Will run even if Windows doesn't boot

7.  Memory diagnostic located here: Memory Diagnostic
Will run even if Windows doesn't boot

8.  Independent Virus scan - Free Online Independent Malware Scans
System must connect to the internet in order to do this.  This in case a virus has corrupted your current scanners into providing false results.

If you are using an Internet Security product (or a 360 product), please do one of the following:
- locate your product key for that product and download a fresh copy of it from the manufacturer's website (don't use the CD it came on).
- or download a free antivirus to take it's place (I recommend Avast free, available here:

Once that's done, uninstall the product using a removal tool available at the manufacturer's website (often the uninstaller won't remove the problem).  Post back if you need a link.

Install the replacement antivirus, update it, and test to see if BSOD's are still happening.

9.  SiSoftSandra Lite - just look through all the sections for error/warning messages -
Must install in Windows.  Can download to another PC and copy to BSOD PC.   To use it, just look through all the sections for error/warning messages.

10.  Zip up the memory dumps and upload them in your next post.
They're located in C:\Windows\Minidump (may be hidden)
If you can't zip them there, copy to your Desktop and try it there.

More info on locating them here:  How To Find Bsod Error Messages

To ZIP, select all the files, then right click on them
Select "Send to", then select "Compressed (zipped) folder"

11.  Go to Start (Vista and Win7) and type in "perfmon /report" (without the quotes) and press Enter.  Let the report generate, then save it as an .html file and zip it up with the memory dumps.

12.  Depending on your version of Windows, check for errors in the Event Viewer...System and Application log files, the Reliability Monitor, and in Device Management.  Also check Windows Error Reporting and/or the Action Center.

FYI - We'll use the procedures here to start the analysis:  WinDbg Analysis Report

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