A Guide to the “Worker Thread Returned at Bad IRQL” Blue Screen of Death Error

Error Name: WORKER_THREAD_RETURNED_AT_BAD_IRQL

STOP code: 0x000000E1

If you’ve found your way here, you’ve had the good instinct to document the errors you’ve encountered and search for the solution. Fortunately, this problem is easy to resolve: and after the pictures below, I’ll tell you how.

What does the WORKER_THREAD_RETURNED_AT_BAD_IRQL BSoD Error Mean?
A photo of this error on versions of Windows preceding 8.

What does the WORKER_THREAD_RETURNED_AT_BAD_IRQL BSoD Error Mean?
Something like what this error looks like on Windows 8.

There are two possible problems you have here — outdated drivers of conflicting antivirus apps!

To check for outdated drivers, open your Start Menu/Screen, click Search, and type in Device Manager. In Device Manager, you’re going to want to right click the entries for each of your devices and select Update Driver. Windows may not be able to find the newest driver for this device — if that happens, go to that driver’s manufacturer’s webpage and search for it there, uninstall the driver, or use our Driver Reviver program to automatically update all of your drivers.

If you have conflicting antivirus apps, your problem is that McAfee and Microsoft Security Essentials (or any other combination of two antivirus apps) are fighting over your machine. To remedy this, uninstall one of them and go on with your day. The reason why these two programs conflict is because they’re trying to use the same system resources to perform the same — or similar — tasks. Determine the one that’s more effective and delete the other.

If you’re still having issues after following all these steps, then you may have defective hardware or another issue, like malware, causing a false BSOD.

After you’ve verified your drivers and antivirus programs, download Malwarebytes and click “Full Scan” to ensure that there’s no nasty piece of software causing the problem that led you here. Another advisable path is a system restore to an earlier point or, if following all of these steps haven’t helped you, doing a full reinstallation/refresh (on Windows 8) of Windows.

About

Steve Horton has been working with computers for over 20 years. He's dedicated to helping people get the most out of their PCs, and likes playing cards and writing comics.

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