Windows XP / Beginners

Troubleshooting Windows Stop Errors

Have you ever seen the "Blue Screen of Death?" The Blue Screen of Death, as it is lovingly called, occurs when some kind of error prevents Windows from running. A "stop" page occurs with a blue background, and often a bunch of cryptic data about why the failure occurred. Any unsaved data is lost at this point, and the only thing you can do is shut down the computer and restart Windows.

Stop errors, though, are not an anomaly; they occur because some problem arose with Windows, an application, or the hardware. Stop errors contain the stop error name, often some troubleshooting recommendations, and error numbers and/or parameters. Some stop messages also contain driver information as well.

So, as an A+ technician, what can you do if stop errors continue to occur on a certain computer? In some cases, you can discover the cause of the problem and solve it; in other cases, you'll need to get some help from technical support. However, in many cases, you can simply follow the troubleshooting information and get the help you need. Also, if you know what the stop message means, you stand a better chance of figuring the problem out. The following bullet list gives you many of the most common stop error labels and what they mean. Use this list as a quick reference the next time you run into stop error problems:

  • Stop 0x00000024 NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM This error occurs when a problem with the NTFS file system driver causes the system to stop. Typically, a hardware failure, such as a failed disk or disk controller, causes this error. Make sure all disks are working and check the disk controllers. You should run the chkdsk drive: /f command.
  • Stop 0x0000002E DATA_BUS_ERROR This error occurs due to failed physical RAM. A corrupted hard disk or a motherboard failure can also produce this error. Check RAM, hard disks, and the motherboard for problems.
  • Stop 0x0000000A IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL This is a common error that occurs when a driver has tried to access a memory space that is not allowed. Usually, this error results from a problem with a piece of hardware or software or an incorrect driver. Check the stop message to see whether the name of the driver appears; then you can troubleshoot the driver from there.
  • Stop 0x0000001E KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED This is also a common error that can occur when an illegal or unknown processor instruction occurs. Faulty drivers or hardware can also cause this error. Check the stop message to see whether the problematic driver is listed, then troubleshoot the driver from there.
  • Stop 0x00000079. MISMATCHED_HAL This error occurs when there is a mismatch in the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) and the Windows XP system files. This message often has to do with Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) BIOSs. You may have to disable some or all of the ACPI BIOS features and reinstall Windows if the problem continues.
  • Stop 0x00000050 PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA This error occurs when a hardware device or driver calls for data that is not in memory. Physical memory can also cause this error, but the culprit is sometimes antivirus software. Make sure that the antivirus software is up to date and that the correct driver for Windows XP is in use. A number of other causes are possible, so check the error message for clues.
  • Stop 0x0000007B INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE This error occurs when Windows XP cannot locate the system partition or the boot volume during startup. Generally, the problem occurs after upgrades or changes to the disk configuration have been made and boot.ini no longer points to the correct boot partition. You can use the Recovery Console to fix boot.ini.
  • Stop 0x000000D1 DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL This is a common stop message that occurs when a driver attempts to access an illegal memory address. You may have unsigned drivers or drivers that are not compatible with Windows XP. Check your hardware, and also check antivirus programs as well as any disk or backup programs for correct drivers.
  • Stop 0x0000007F UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP A hardware failure of some kind typically causes this error. You'll need to check RAM, the CPU, the motherboard, and the power supply.

Troubleshooting: Stopping Automatic Restart

When a stop error occurs, Windows XP is configured to restart the computer automatically. However, if want to give yourself time to study the stop message so that you can look for a solution, you can stop the automatic restart behavior easily. Just follow these steps:

  1. Click Start | Control Panel | System.
  2. Click the Advanced tab and click the Settings button under Startup and Recovery.
  3. In the Startup and Recovery dialog box that appears clear the Automatically Restart check box and click OK.
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