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The Windows Blue Screen of Death.

There is nothing scarier for an owner of a windows machine than the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). Why the BSOD is so feared is because of the unpredictable and destructive nature of a system crash which puts all data on the machine at the risk of being unrecoverable. The occurrence of a BSOD relates to a stop error which terminally halts a previously running system. Technically, a BSOD is an unexpected and non-trivial crash of the OS. While shutting down the PC from the power source and rebooting again is enough to clear some instances of this error, you should note that if BSOD occurs some more times it will affect other programs and corrupt the windows registry, at this point the only solution would be to reinstall the Operating System. A BSOD is likely to occur when a windows machine is modified or upgraded, has faulty hardware, under heavy load, malware infested or there are software conflicts.

Once windows throws a BSOD at you, the important thing is not to freak out. Rather try to look at the error message and glean some useful information from it. To give a practical example, observe the instance of a windows 7 BSOD below.

From the figure you can see that the Windows service SPCMDCON.SYS has failed. Looking at the BSOD, you should be able to gather the following information:
• The stop error number, which uniquely identifies the error
• The stop error parameters, which provide additional information relating to the specific stop error number
• Driver information is available if the source of the problem relates to drivers

After gathering the above you should search online to establish the problem and hopefully a resolution. In addition to the information obtained from the BSOD error, if the system can be rebooted normally or in safe mode, you should take a look at the System Event Log and view the error message. You can also go online and search for what it means.

If your system refuses to reboot, or is trapped in a BSOD cycle that restarts over and over again, you should take the following steps. Press F8 after the BIOS screen appears. From Advanced Boot Options, select Disable automatic restart on system failure, as shown in the figure below. This allows you to read and make note of the information contained on the BSOD. You can then allow Windows to attempt a reboot. If the perpetual loop reoccurs, select another option, such as Safe Mode, from the Advanced Boot Options menu.

To prevent windows from restarting after a stop error follow the steps below.
1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties.
2. Click Advanced System Settings.
3. In the System Properties dialog box, click the Advanced tab. Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings.
4. In the System Failure box, clear the Automatically Restart check box.
These steps can also be configured if the system is booted in Safe Mode.

Finally, if you are feeling particularly naughty, you can download and install the BSOD screen saver.

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