An example BSOD

Before taking a look at this guide we wanted to remind you that if you do not feel comfortable going through this guide then you can simply ask us to raise a RMA for you to send us your system. The idea behind this is to hopefully get to the bottom of your issue as quickly as possible so you are up and running as soon as possible and to rule out any environmental or software issues that are not supported by UK Gaming Computers.

When a computer goes wrong or has a problem the end result is normally what is called a “Blue Screen of Death” (BSOD). This is where the computer will simply flash up a blue screen with some random codes and then reboot.

This can be often an annoying and frustrating thing to experience as the crashes happen completely at random and the random codes nearly always mean absolutely nothing and cannot indicate why the BSOD is happening. It is important to establish exactly what is causing the problem as you may find that if you were to send the wrong component back to the place of purchase you could end up with a costly bill when the issue is simply down to your installation of your operating system and not with the hardware itself. Thankfully this article will give you some insight as to why this occurring and how to resolve the issue. It is also useful to aid in diagnosing crashes,freezing and locking up systems.

Before attempting any of these tests we recommend you read the entire guide as some tests are much quicker and easier to carry out.

Firstly before discussing how to diagnose the issue you need to know when the BSOD happens. Normally a BSOD will happen at random where one day it will happen when gaming and another perhaps surfing the web and even when the PC is idle. However, if you find a BSOD happens when playing a particular game, running a certain program or visiting the same website then the BSOD will almost certainly be caused by said game/program/website. Often games/programs and other software related products (even if they are written by some of the big players such as Microsoft) have coding bugs which can, and in this case are occurring, result in a BSOD. If you are receiving this kind of regular BSOD then you need to seek support with said software product.

Ok, that was the easy type of BSOD, we now need to find out about the random ones! 95% of Blue screens are caused by one of 3 things;

- Corrupt operating systems/programs (80% Chance)

- Faulty RAM (10% Chance)

- Failing hard disk (5% Chance)

Corrupt operating systems

This is the common one and is normally why the BSOD is happening. It is simple as software going wrong, and it happens.....a lot! It could be that your operating system is simply corrupt or perhaps some software is causing a conflict or even your system has a faulty driver or update installed. Whilst being the most common reason it is unfortunately normally the most inconvenient as the fix is quite drastic. We therefore we recommend attacking this fix last.

Faulty RAM

It is much less likely that the problem is RAM related but it’s really easy to test and we recommend you start your diagnosis at this stage. We have put together another handy guide to help you work this out: If your RAM is faulty, it will need replacing.

Failing hard disk

This is the next component to test. Again, like the RAM test, it’s very easy. You will need to download and install a program called Seatools (for windows) from here:

Seatools is a program for finding faults with Seagate and other branded hard disks. It also helps with solid state hard disk diagnosis. Once Seatools is installed, open the program and then select the hard disk tick box of the hard disk you wish to test. There may be more than one disk available to test and it doesn’t hurt to test all of your hard disks. Once your disks are selected, simply click the BASIC TESTS button at the top and then click LONG GENERIC. The tests will begin and at the end will state if the test has passed or not. This test can take many hours and sometimes days depending on how large and how many hard disks you have. If the test comes back as a fail then the hard disk will need replacing.

If for any reason you are unable to run this version of Seatools it is possible to run a bootable version which allows you to test a hard disk without booting in to an operating system. You can find out how to use Seatools for DOS here;

Back to corrupt operating systems

Ok, so the easy tests have been done and it’s now time to rule out the common fault, a corrupt operating system/program. To actually pinpoint the problem can be a massively time consuming process and normally is beyond anyone that is not a qualified IT Technician. For this reason we recommend you simply wipe your hard disk and reinstall your operating system. Like most computer manufactures we do not support software problems but we have devised another simple guide on how to install windows 7 here and Windows 8.1 here. You may be using another operating system and we would advise you to research how to do this with other operating systems. Once your operating system is reinstalled don’t forget all of your drivers ideally direct from the component manufacturers website.

Other Causes

By now you have most likely solved the issue or at least know what is causing it. However, if you are still having problems then this list should help;

- Bad overclock

- Faulty motherboard

- Faulty Supply of power

- Faulty Peripheral(s)

- Other hardware

- Faulty Driver(s)

- Electrical fault

- Faulty Processor

- BIOS Problem

At this stage it’s almost certainly going to have to be looked at by a specialist. There are however a couple of things that you may be able to perform.

Bad Overclock

– Simply reset the overclocking options in the BIOS. You may need a specialist to advise you how to do this but it is a very easy thing to do that wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes over the phone.

Faulty Peripheral(s)

– A strange one you may think but this is becoming more and more common as keyboard, mice and other peripherals have become more advanced over the years. Even peripherals that have been used on another machine without problems could cause problems on another. Try running your system with all of the peripherals unplugged, especially USB ones. You will probably need to get your hands on another keyboard and mouse so that you can actually use the system. Another easy experiment I’m sure you will agree and we would probably recommend this is one of the first tests to try especially if your system is fairly new.

Faulty Driver(s)

– To put it simple, some drivers are just no good with certain combinations of hardware. Try older revisions of certain drivers and seek out newer drivers. This can be fairly time consuming and you may need to seek aid of a specialist but it is something you may be able to attempt yourself.

Electrical fault

– Is the electrical outlet up to the job of powering a custom PC? Try another outlet or perhaps another power cable. One final check is to plug in the PC at another premises - Other electrical goods, whilst rare, can cause PC's to BSOD/Reboot when switched on/plugged in.

BIOS Problem

– The BIOS is the software that your motherboard has built in. Give it a wrong setting and BSOD's and lockups will be common. Try resetting the BIOS to the default settings - This will remove all BIOS settings like overclocks so make sure you take a backup or note custom settings down. You can also try updating your BIOS to the latest version - Your motherboard manual will explain how to do so along with resetting the BIOS.

The last straw

– Time to send the system to a specialist. You will find they have all the tools needed in house and can simply just try another motherboard or power supply. It would be good to make a note of what you found from this article so that they haven’t got to start from scratch.