The Dreaded Blue Screen of Death

by Aeryn Lynne

Windows operated computers and the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) are a match made in hell. You've must have seen at least one occurrence of computer failure, right? (If you haven't, let me know below please! I LOVE meeting lucky people!) I've seen at least 10 different BSODs throughout the past 15-odd years in which I've had constant contact with Windows based PCs and laptops.

They're not fun. They can happen on any Windows based operating system, and I've seen them all: Windows 95, XP, Vista… and as of last night, I had to add Windows 7 to that list. It totally scared me.

What a Blue Screen of Death used to mean to me was a minimum 14 hour task of backing up my computer and re-installing the current operating system, as well as all of the programs I've had installed to boot (which is A LOT.) Particularly if you didn't have access to the internet when these BSODs occurred, there wouldn't be a lot of info on why it was occurring. A lot of factors can be involved including: viruses, broken or missing program files, incompatible software, etc.

This particular BSOD would appear and disappear quickly. I would see it for a few seconds until my desktop would decide to restart itself, so I needed my camera to quickly take a picture of the information it was parting.

I'll admit I had shed a few premature tears when I had seen this last night…

My blue screen of death from last night.

It is a bit dark, sorry. You see, if we're twitter buddies you'll know that I've spent the past four days in Windsor helping my sister move. I got home roughly around 7PM last night, had a quick dinner with my loving hubby whom I haven't seen for four days, and then turned on my desktop a couple hours later to catch up on work that I couldn't touch while I was far away in Windsor.

It took less than a minute of loading my personal account screen when that BSOD showed up.

At first, I was in shock and denial took over. I thought, there's no way this could happen to me right now. It's just a freak occurrence, and won't show up again after I restart my computer.

But it did. The first time it restarted, it happened at exactly the same time – roughly a minute after logging in.

And it happened again for a third time, and I had started talking to my computer, begging it to not screw with me just this once and I'll treat it to a good scrub down once all of my tasks were complete.

But the BSOD happened again for a fourth time, and I gulped in fear and quickly became depressed. This couldn't be happening. I had a list of plans that required my desktop to complete that night and they won't get done, not without my desktop. After attempting a quick-fix of turning the computer completely off, i.e.: unplugging everything, and leaving it sit there for a good ten minutes so that the backup battery inside my computer would definitely have no juice left to keep any settings that might be harming my computer and driving me crazy. I took a deep breath and turned my computer on again, hoping that lack of electricity somehow fixed the problem.

It didn't. I restarted the computer in Safe Mode with Network and proceeded to ensure that all of my files truly were on my separate F:/ drive (which means that if my desktop's operating system really did need to be re-installed, all of my important files were safely NOT on my computer at all, but on an external drive that doesn't use an OS.)

Backing up involves:

  • making sure I had every single photograph, video and document backed up,
  • creating a list of all programs I've bought and installed (and making sure I have a copy of all serial numbers at hand),
  • making sure I've backed up my iTunes downloads (because iTunes will only let your re-download your purchases *once* and only *once*… and that's after taking time to make the request for download access.)
  • making sure I have a back-up of all my emails – because if you use a desktop program, such as Microsoft Outlook, your emails are quite possibly saved directly to your computer… mostly likely in your App Data folder. Do you know where your App Data folder is?
  • Backing up my bookmarked folders in all three browsers on my computer (IE, FireFox, Chrome).
  • and the list goes on…

After checking and rechecking that I wouldn't lose anything but time, I went to bed depressed over not having anything on my To-Do list done.

When I woke, I took a long hard look at the BSOD capture I had on my camera, and saw something that gave me hope. I noticed a file being named as the culprit behind all of this unwanted drama. Do you see it?

Finding a solution!

So after turning my computer back on in Safe Mode, I went online to check out what that file was all about, and discovered it was part of a program that I hadn't used in over six months. I knew I wasn't planning on using it again. Ever. So, while still in Safe Mode, I uninstalled the program associated with that file and restarted my computer.

That was five hours ago, and I haven't had any BSODs since!

The Moral Of the Story Is: Don't Shoot the Messenger

BSODs, though unsightly and scary, DO have helpful information. If you can't read the whole page before your computer restarts, take a picture of it and walk away from your poor computer to read it thoroughly.

If you still have access to the internet (and you should these days.) Go online and find out what the BSOD is trying to tell you.

While uninstalling a program called Duplex, I got a brief flash of memory reminding me that my OS had recently went through an update… and maybe that update didn't configure well with this program. *shrugs*

Whatever the case, I went from having to spend the entire day re-birthing my system to uninstalling one random program that I no longer had any use of.

I'm SO relieved.

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Aeryn Lynne

The Geek at Geek Life
Living in Superman's Metropolis (aka Toronto, Canada), Aeryn Lynne found a way to entirely over-share everything she loves, and make a career out of it! Ultimately a geek, she waxes poetically over technology, fights for fashion-equality, squees over comic art, and literally sparkles, thanks to her makeup addiction.
Aeryn Lynne

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