Resolving stop (blue screen) errors in Windows 7

Stop errors (also sometimes called blue screen or black screen errors) can occur if a serious problem causes Windows 7 to shut down or restart unexpectedly.

These errors can be caused by both hardware and software issues, and it can be difficult to troubleshoot the problem. The following tools and methods can often help get Windows up and running again.

If you can start Windows

These tools and methods can help you roll back your system to an earlier state, and help ensure your computer has the latest updates installed.

Undo recent changes using System Restore
Use Action Center to check for solutions to problems
Check Windows Update for software updates
Search for drivers on the manufacturer's website
Use safe mode to troubleshoot problems
Check your computer for hard disk and memory errors

If you can't start Windows at all

The following tools can help you uninstall or roll back software changes, repair Windows startup files, and restore your system from an earlier backup. If none of those suggestions fix the problem, you can reinstall Windows 7.

Several of the following tools are located on the System Recovery Options menu. This menu is preinstalled on your computer's hard disk, and is also on the Windows 7 installation media.

When attempting to recover Windows:
  • If you use a Tablet PC or other computer with a touchscreen, you might need to connect a keyboard and mouse in order to use Startup Repair and the other tools in the System Recovery Options menu. For more information, see What are the system recovery options in Windows 7?
  • If Windows 7 came preinstalled on your computer, your computer manufacturer might have included other recovery options. For more information, refer to the documentation that came with your computer, or go to the manufacturer's website.

Try safe mode to start Windows
Use Startup Repair to fix Windows startup files
Undo recent changes using System Restore
Restore your computer using a system image backup
Reinstall Windows 7

Article ID: 17074 - Last Review: 31 Aug 2016 - Revision: 56