Dealing with Stop Errors

If you experience a Stop error, don't panic . Instead, run through the following troubleshooting checklist to isolate the problem and find a solution:

• Look for a driver name in the error details If the error message identifies a specific file name and you can trace that file to a driver for a specific hardware device, you might be able to solve the problem by disabling, removing, or rolling back that driver to an earlier version . The most likely offenders are network interface cards, video adapters, and disk controllers. For more details about managing driver files, see "Managing Installed Drivers" on page 884.

• Don't rule out hardware problems In many cases, software is the victim and not the cause of blue-screen errors . Damaged hard disks, defective physical RAM, and overheated CPU chips are three common hardware failures that can result in Stop errors . If the errors seem to happen at random and the message details vary each time, there is a very good chance that you are experiencing hardware problems .

• Check your memory Windows 7 includes a memory diagnostic tool that you can use if you suspect a faulty or failing memory chip . To run this diagnostic procedure, open Control Panel and type memory in the search box. Then, under Administrative Tools, click Diagnose Your Computer's Memory Problems. In the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool, shown here, click Restart Now And Check For Problems (Recommended) or Check For Problems The Next Time I Start My Computer.

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ws Memory Diagnostic

Check your computer for memory problems

Memory problems can cause your computer to lose information or stop working. How does Windows diagnose memory problems?

Restart now and check for problems (recommended)

Save your work and close any open programs before restarting.

Check for problems the next time I start my computer

[ Cancel J

• Ask yourself, "What's new?" Be suspicious of newly installed hardware and software. If you added a device recently, remove it temporarily and see whether the problem goes away. Take an especially close look at software in the categories that install services or file-system filter drivers—these hook into the core operating system files that manage the file system to perform tasks such as scanning for viruses . This category includes backup programs, multimedia applications, antivirus software, and CD-burning utilities . You might need to permanently uninstall or update the program to resolve the problem.

• Search the Knowledge Base Make a note of the error code and all parameters . Search the Knowledge Base using both the full and short formats. For instance, if you're experiencing a KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED error, use 0x1E and 0x0000001E as your search keywords .

• Check your system BIOS carefully Is an update available from the manufacturer of the system or motherboard? Check the BIOS documentation carefully; resetting all BIOS options to their defaults can sometimes resolve an issue caused by overtweaking

• Are you low on system resources? Stop errors are sometimes the result of a critical shortage of RAM or disk space . If you can start in Safe Mode, check the amount of physical RAM installed and look at the system and boot drives to see how much free disk space is available

• Is a crucial system file damaged? To reinstall a driver, restart your computer, press F8, and start Windows in Safe Mode . In Safe Mode, only core drivers and services are activated. If your system starts in Safe Mode but not normally, you very likely have a problem driver. Try running Device Manager in Safe Mode and uninstalling the most likely suspect. Or run System Restore in Safe Mode. If restoring to a particular day cures the problem, use Reliability Monitor (shown earlier in Figure 23-7) to determine what changes occurred on or after that day.

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