Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blue Screen of Death

The Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) visited my laptop last night.  If you're unfamiliar with this surprise visitor, it's a disturbing crash of the Microsoft Windows operating system;  in my case, Windows XP.  Officially known as a "Stop Error", it's sometimes related to recent driver updates.  With the age of my laptop (2002), I'm thinking it's more likely related to a hardware or RAM failure.  The error will cause the operating system to put the memory data to a disk file, or "dump" file.  These files are usually placed in the C:\WINDOWS root directory.  Look for the file(s) with the .dmp extension.  I'll take a closer look at the dump file if my quick fix doesn't do the trick...

When I investigated the error code on the screen, it referenced the win32k.sys file.  Not good.  Per the Microsoft Technet reference library, the win32k.sys is part of the kernel.  It could be the file itself is corrupted.  So here's what I did, I renamed the file win32k.old (located in C:\windows\system32)... in essence I deleted the system file.  Many times when a system file is deleted in Windows, the operating system will automatically create the missing file.  In this case, XP recreated the file for me and I haven't experienced any further problems.

We'll see what happens, if it happens again I'll be taking a close look at the dump file.  In the meantime, I will make sure I have a full backup of my laptop's hard drive ready!

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