There are crashes and then there’s The Blue Screen of Death. You may of experienced your PC running slow or a program crashing, but in the Windows 95/98 days the system suddenly halting and restart was a regular occurrence.
Fortunately since Windows 2000 this has become less of a common occurrence, or so it seemed. Working late last night at a client’s office on a handful of problems already, Windows Vista (Brand new machine, only a week old) decided to show me otherwise. While copying some vital files to the machine, it restarted windows. After a rebooting to the login screen, it then repeated the process of halting and restarted, nice!
So without having access to Windows how did I go about fixing this problem? Well here are the steps I tried…
1. Restart the machine and hope it was just one of those things, check out the event logs for more information. Make sure you backup just in case!
2. Write down as much information about the problem and do some research on the internet, of course on another PC! Things to write down and search for are Locale ID, filenames (ending in .SYS, .DLL, .VXD etc). Don’t waste time writing down Memory Address locations, your IT support won’t have a clue either.
3. If you can get access to Windows, schedule a full disk scan on the hard drive. I have been successful with this in the past. If you cannot get access to Windows, try hitting the F8 key at system start up and select Windows Safe Mode. This runs the system with minimal resources, the screen may look smaller with less colour depth etc.
4. If you are running Windows Vista, try the repair mode under the F8 menu.
5. Still no luck, try removing any external devices such as printers and hard drives plugged into the PC. Reboot the machine and see if that works. If it did re-enable each device in turn until it stops working again. Find a new device driver for the hardware.
6. Along the same lines as above, while in safe mode disable the sound card, video card, modem etc in Device Manager. Reboot the machine and see if that works. If it did re-enable each device in turn until it stops working again. Find a new device driver for the hardware.
In my case, the error was mrxsmb20.sys file with locale id 2057, and the cause was the Realtek soundcard. Updating to the latest driver fixed the problem.