Although the Blue Screen of Death, or BSoD, is a subject of infamy among Windows users, updates to the operating system continuously streamline it for legibility and usefulness. Users who encounter a BSoD should never ignore it without troubleshooting the cause and preventing further crashes, whether or not they believe it's a severe problem. The reasons for BSoDs are as variable as the ones for how Windows crashes – which are many.
Always read the full text of a Blue Screen of Death error and check it for any useful information. Many crashes include descriptions of the event (such as 'PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA,' which is a problem with the area of memory that Windows reserves for essential system processes). Many also include error codes in a hexadecimal format (like '0x1000007E,' for instance). There are free lists of the problems that these codes indicate on the Web.
Assuming that there are no clues on resolving the specific problem, users can take general precautions for improving system stability. Uninstall, rollback, or disable any recently-installed drivers through the Windows Device Manager. Remove any external devices that aren't necessary for operating the PC, such as a mouse or keyboard. Uninstall any new software (the 'Add or Remove Programs' list provides an option to sort by install date).
Removing or replacing new or damaged hardware also can be necessary. Users should discharge static before opening their PCs and unplug it from all other devices and power sources.
Windows updates also may improve stability substantially. Although modern versions of Windows manage updates semi-automatically, users can choose to delay these patches. The 'Windows Update Settings' section provides information and features for update maintenance, including whether Windows requires a patch.
Users should apply the same lesson regarding Windows updates to other software, too. Demanding or sensitive software, such as graphics card drivers, may generate errors or instability if they're out-of-date. Use manufacturer-recommended download links and installation procedures, if possible. Although Windows includes a driver-updating feature in the Device Manager, its accuracy with third-party products is imperfect.
Users may consider using the Windows System Restore feature in emergencies that involve a severely-corrupted system state (such as a backdoor Trojan infection). Although it requires a previously-set Restore Point from the user, it can 'reverse' the PC back to the previous state of that saved point date.
Of course, a Blue Screen of Death also can be a symptom of a threat. A classic example is a cryptocurrency-mining Trojan that's destabilizing the system by overusing the CPU. Users suspecting this cause should scan their PCs with trustworthy security solutions immediately, such as an anti-virus or anti-malware suite. Restarting in Safe Mode also can be a requirement for removing some complex threats or preventing them from blocking security programs.
Most causes of a BSoD are not nearly as extreme as a hardware failure or Trojan, but users should always prepare for the worst possibilities. Those who maintain their device with safe settings, regular patches and some hygiene are far less likely to be seeing blue in 2021.