Avoiding the Windows Blues: Simple Fixes for the Blue Screen

Windows users both fear and loathe three things in their lives: annoying and pompous Mac users, Vista and the blue screen of death. The former two are easily enough avoided, whether by feigning complete inattention or simply installing a decent operating system. The latter, however, is as certain in a Windows user’s life as death and taxes.

Having recently encountered my own heart-stopping run-ins with the terror known as the blue screen of death, I’ve compiled a list of do-it-yourself tactics to fix this sticky situation. There’s no need to out the cash seeking ‘professional’ help from the ‘Nerd Brigade’ at your local ‘Better Bargain’ when a simple solution could be only a few clicks away.

The list escalates from least desperate to ‘I’m screwed!’

A Fresh Beginning
Anxiety Level: No sweat. Easier than Tila Tequila.

The good news is that most blue screen of death problems are easily solved by a quick restart. Windows messed up for some reason or another and just needs a swift kick in the ‘mo-bo’ (or motherboard for you less tech savy folks) to straighten up and fly right again.
Start here each time and every time.

Malware Sucks

Anxiety Level: Such a hassle.

Malware and viruses can be rampant on a PC, strangling a system until its screen is the color of a fresh plucked blueberry. But there are plenty of anti-virus and malware programs to root out these weeds.

For a free program, I prefer Malwarebytes. It’s affective, straightforward and has gotten me out of plenty of nasty virus dilemmas.

Always boot your computer in Safe Mode while trying to really scrub your system clean. Without Safe Mode, a virus may reinstall itself through the Internet or other sneaky means.
If you have no idea how to boot in Safe Mode, chances are all you have to do is press F8 when your system is loading up.

Out with the Old-ware, In with the New-ware
AnxietyLevel: Downright pain.

Pay attention to when your PC kicks the bucket and is flung into the dark blue sea of doom. Depending on when the blue screen of death appears, you might get a few hints as to how to specifically deal with the problem.

If a program constantly ushers in the technological grim reaper, consider what drivers that program requires (sound, video, etc.) and update them. Did you install a new hard drive or upgrade your hardware? Consider all the things that changed from the last time your computer worked till now, and change them back to how they were.

You may also want to try reinstalling Windows (though, I’d suggest trying the next two steps before you get that desperate).

Time Travel
Anxiety Level: Getting a bit freaked out.

Is the blue screen of death still haunting your PC? Well, my friend, you’ve entered into the realm of ‘cross your fingers and pray to your deity of choice.’

Your next best bet is to try a System Restore. Depending on your version of Windows, you can do this a few ways. I prefer booting in Safe Mode just to be’hellip; well, safe. In XP, you’re given the option to preform a System Restory when Safe Mode is booted.

Think back to the last time your PC worked correctly. In System Restore, you can return to that set-up while still keeping all your files and progress you’ve saved onto your computer since.

Destroying Your Shadow, Not Your Cache

Anxiety Level: F My Life’hellip;

Still not working? Time to go into your BIOS, which is like a control center for the basics of a PC.

Entering your BIOS and changing the settings all depends on the maker of your computer and motherboard, so a Google search may be in order for the specifics of this step.
What you want to do is turn off your shadowing (which is usually under the AGP or video options). I find that it’s rare that this is the problem for blue screen of death issues, but anything is worth a try at this point.

If you’ll notice on the blue screen of death, there is a suggestion to ‘disable caching and shadowing.’ Disregard the first part. Disabling your cache in BIOS will slow down your computer to speeds along the lines of Michael Moore’s jog, presenting you with another problem to deal with. The geniuses at Microsoft, I suppose, didn’t think to include that in the suggestion– ‘You may want to disable caching. Oh, and by the way, your computer will be next to useless when you do.’

Throwing in the Towel

Anxiety Level: ‘Taps’ is playing in the distance.

Still got the blues? Well, it’s time to admit defeat, my friend. Go seek out a trustworthy, technologically savvy friend or talk to a professional. You’ve got to realize when you’re beat, and if none of the previous solutions worked, you may have a hardware failure.

I suppose if even a professional can’t fix your problem, you can always throw your piece of crap away and buy a Mac.

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