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Fatal Error Solutions

Here we show examples of how critical errors are displayed in Windows and explain what the key areas of the messages mean.

  Blue Screen Example  

When the Blue Screen of Death appears, Windows is no longer running, all unsaved work is lost and the only action available is to reboot (Ctrl-Alt-Del).

bsod example screen

The issue title, either short (shown) or sometimes a longer detailed description.

This is a generic boilerplate solution for all issues. It may not be the best solution to try. Some messages do not have this text.

The Stop code number Parameters 1 through 4 (optional)

The Stop code number is the most important value to note. Use the stop code to look up the issue in Fatal errors solutions.

In some cases the Parameters can also be helpful to narrow the source of the problem. Not all errors have parameters. For 64-bit systems, each parameter is a quad word. For example, the 32-bit value 0x00000099 would appear in a 64-bit system as 0x0000000000000099.

All these numbers are in hex, using the digits 0-9 and letters A-F to represent sixteen states (or 4 binary bits) for each position. The prefix "0x" is a common programmer notation to indicate the rest of the number is in hex.

In some cases, a specific device driver file will be identified. This may appear immediately below the Stop Code number (not shown in this example). While useful as a possible culprit, it may not be the source of the problem. The fault may have been caused by some earlier failure - hardware, another device driver or a bug in Windows.

  Serious Error Example  

Although rare, in some situations Windows can display the fault The system has recovered from a serious error. This can occur in all Windows editions. Our example below is from XP SP3.

serious error

Just above the buttons you'll need to select "click here" to get anything useful. The details screen appears similar to:

serious error details

The Error signature section has the only useful information here.

The BCCode (Bug Check Code) is usually the same as the Stop code you see in Blue Screen fatal errors. The BCCode is in hex, so the example above "c4" is the Stop code value 0x000000C4. Use this value to look up the Fatal Error Solution.

The BCP1 through BCP4 represent the parameters 1 through 4 and are sometimes helpful in identifying the the source of the problem. These values are in hex.

OSVer is the Operating System version. The first digit indicates the major Windows version. Windows 2000 is 4, XP is 5, while Windows 7, Vista and Server 2008 use 6.

SP is the Service Pack. In our example above, we're using XP Service Pack 3.

Product value is usually 256_1 or 768_1. We've seen both values for XP and Vista, so it's not clear what the number means.

While the system may still still be running, often the system will crash, blue screen fault, or simply reboot shortly thereafter. You should quickly save any unsaved data, jot the error data down and then restart.