The Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)
By Stephen Bucaro
When the Windows operating system encounters a situation where it can't continue,
or where continuing might lead to data corruption, it comes to a screeching halt
and displays an incomprehensible error message on a screen with a blue background.
This situation is referred to as "The Blue Screen of Death" (BSOD).
What can cause the Blue Screen of Death? The most common cause of the BSOD is a
memory or a storage device read or write error. It could be an inability to read
memory or a storage device. It could be bad data retrieved from a memory or a storage
device, or it could be a program or service attempting to read from or write to a
location in memory or a storage device that it is not authorized to access.
A BSOD will usually provide you with some cryptic information about the error,
including its symbolic name and a stop code. For example:
DATA_BUS_ERROR Stop 0x0000002E
This indicates that Windows has detected a parity error in system memory.
In other words, bad data was retrieved from a memory or a storage device. Parity refers
to an error checking scheme where a bit in each byte is set to an 0 or 1 so that each
byte has an even number of ones (or in the case of odd parity, an add number of ones).
If the number of ones in a byte read from a memory or a storage device does not
match with the parity scheme, it indicates an error.
KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED stop 0x0000001E
The error shown above indicates that the processor tried to execute an illegal or unknown instruction.
If you're familiar with Windows virtual memory scheme, you know that the operating
system is able to pretend like it has much more memory than the amount of installed
RAM by using part of the hard disk as virtual memory. Blocks of data and program
code are shifted in and out of virtual memory in block sizes called pages. The file
on the hard disk that they are stored in is called the page file.
PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA Stop 0x00000050
The error shown above indicates that Windows encountered an error in an area of
system RAM that was not paged into virtual memory.