Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death

So you’ve got a recurring Blue Screen of Death, and, like many BSoDs, it’s because a bad driver is at fault. However, the screen isn’t giving you the correct information, either because it’s not listing a driver at all, or because it’s listing a system driver that’s acting as a false positive.

Driver Verifier is a free utility included with all versions of Windows from Windows XP onward. It literally verifies each of the drivers on your PC until it comes across the one causing the problem, intentionally generating that same Blue Screen, but then recording the information in a log file, helping you to track down the problem.

Run Driver Verifier

If you’ve been getting the same Blue Screen often, and you’d like to become proactive and fix it, here’s how to use Driver Verifier.

In Windows XP:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Run…
  3. Type CMD and press Enter
  4. In the new box, type verifier and press Enter

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
The Command Prompt where you type verifier. This looks similar across all versions.

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
The Driver Verifier screen in Windows XP.

In Windows Vista and 7:

  1. Click Start
  2. Type CMD in the box and press Enter
  3. In the new box, type verifier and press Enter

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
The Driver Verifier screen in Windows Vista and 7.

In Windows 8 and 8.1:

  1. Press Windows Key + X
  2. Click Command Prompt (Admin) (Windows PowerShell (Admin) in Windows 8.1)
  3. In the new box, type verifier and press Enter

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
The Driver Verifier screen in Windows 8.

All verisons of Windows:

  1. Make sure Create custom settings (for code developers) is selected.
  2. Click Next.
  3. Select Select individual settings from a full list.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Deselect Systematic Low Resource Simulation and Force Pending I/O Requests. (These two cause an unnecessary workload on your PC.) Make sure everything else is selected.
  6. Click Next twice.
  7. Select Select Driver Names from a List.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Select all the drivers on this screen, except those that say Microsoft Corporation under Provider. It’s very unlikely a Microsoft driver is causing the issue.
  10. Click Finish.

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
Be sure Force Pending I/O Requests and Systematic Low Resource Simulation are deselected.

Note: If you’re not able to perform the above steps because the Blue Screen keeps happening, try booting in Safe Mode first.

You must restart your PC at this point. Then, try to cause the BSoD again by doing what you did before. Windows is placing extra stress on your drivers to help you along. If you can’t reproduce the BSoD, try letting your computer run overnight. Once the BSoD occurs again, restart your PC in Safe Mode and read the Minidump file.

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
Restart your PC after finishing with Driver Verifier.

Read the Dump File

Driver Verifier will run, trigger the Blue Screen and record a log file. That log file is found in C:\Windows\Minidump\. Read it, and you’ll see what driver is causing the problem. Try Googling the driver name to find out what piece of hardware on your PC uses it.

So how do you read it? You need a debugging tool, which you can download from Microsoft.

The Windows 7 version is here, and The Windows 8 version is here. Download the SDK, install it, select the debugging tools, and deselect everything else.

Note that debugging tools for previous versions of Windows are no longer available; you’ll have to send your dump file to a Microsoft technician to analyze.

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
Select only this part during installation.

After installing it, find it on your Start Screen. It’s called windbg (x64). Run it.

Then:

  1. Click File, then Open Crash Dump.
  2. Navigate to C:\Windows\Minidump\ and open the .DMP file contained within.
  3. Look toward the bottom of the resulting file, where the line says Probably Caused By. This is a good indicator of which driver is causing the problem.

Fix the Driver

Update the driver related to that piece of hardware:

In Windows XP:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click Switch to Classic View
  4. Double-click System
  5. Click the Hardware tab
  6. Click Device Manager
  7. Find the device causing the issue
  8. Right click on it
  9. Click Update Driver

In Windows Vista and 7:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Double-click Device Manager
  4. Find the device causing the issue
  5. Right click on it
  6. Click Update Driver

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
Right-click on the problem driver and click Update Driver.

In Windows 8 and 8.1:

  1. Press Windows Key + X
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. View by Small Icons
  4. Click Device Manager
  5. Find the device causing the issue
  6. Right click on it
  7. Click Update Driver

Or, use our application Driver Reviver, not to be confused with Driver Verifier. Driver Reviver updates all the existing drivers on your PC automatically, and is especially good for updating poorly performing drivers, like this one, to the latest and greatest version.

Once you’ve fixed the problem driver, you’re going to want to disable Driver Verifier.

Disable Driver Verifier

After you’re done using Driver Verifier, you’re going to want to disable it, as it’s quite a burden on your PC while it’s running.

In all versions of Windows:

  1. Re-run Driver Verifier using the steps above.
  2. Select Delete Existing Settings.
  3. Click Finish.
  4. Reboot your PC again.

Using Driver Verifier to fix a Blue Screen of Death
Delete Existing Settings to unburden your PC after you’re done with Driver Verifier.

Keep this article bookmarked in the future, so that whenever you have a Blue Screen, you can fix the issue. Also, check out our interactive Blue Screen Helper and enter in your error name for additional tips on solving your specific Blue Screen of Death. Good luck!

  • How does one install the SDK if the only way to boot is in safe mode?! No internet connection & can’t even install from a flash drive in safe mode.

  • luke

    I think the idea is read the whole page before doing anything so you know to install it.

  • panther063

    Use Safe Mode with Networking.

  • Ahmed E. Kal

    It won’t let me access the minidumps. It says I just contact an owner or get permission from the administror. I’m the only freaking user and the AM the administrator!

  • Sheanne Marinel ♥

    I did the first part, got a blue screen, but with a different error this time. Before it was Kernel, now it is Driver_Verifier_Detected_Violation. Should I be alarmed? The scanning is also not moving

  • In case anyone else has this issue, you should try copying the file to the root directory, your Documents folder, etc. and then try opening it.

  • Code Owl

    all the dump files in mine say: Probably caused by : ntoskrnl.exe ( nt+6a4d3 )
    … what do you do in this case… ? as that is the NT OS Kernal

  • Kosta Markus

    Run WinDbg as administrator.

  • Streaker

    I just got the same thing! So what do we do now?

  • Code Owl

    Hey Streak….. I been dogged by this issue for months now… putting off rebuilding machine as I don’t have the time it is my work machine… some weeks I will have like 10 BSODs… others I will have 1 or 2…. I constantly have the sound notification of a device dropping in and out… sometimes it stops the keyboard for a few seconds… skype freezes all the time… and hanging up calls often freezes it… I am running Windows 8.1 Pro 64bit with 32 GB ram and i7 intel cpu… it would be a great computer if it wasn’t for this….

  • Streaker

    Wow. You got back to me fast! Anyway, I have been dealing with BSOD’s since as far back as I can remember back to the 90’s. I understand that it is triggered by coming out of sleep mode so I have turned sleep mode off. It isn’t too bad if I do this but I haven’t tried it for months yet. Is this a software problem caused my Microsoft? I am no computer expert unfortunately. It sounds like you are. I do notice that saving causes “program failing to respond” errors and it takes a very long time to save anything. I still have an some warranty left on this computer with HP. Any suggestions?

  • Code Owl

    Hey Streak… BSOD’s aren’t caused by any one thing… they are complex to solve…. often they can be caused by a faulty driver, or faulty hardware, but not always…. There is a process you can go through to isolate what the cause is which is what I did to identify the the ntoskrnl.exe … however it is time consuming and not for the faint of heart… I wouldn’t say it is a problem caused by MS… it is just the way Windows deals with a problem caused by anything that is preventing the system from continuing to work….. they can be hard to solve especially when intermittent… One approach you can start with is by running the computer with a bare minimum of things… and then introduce them back in one at a time if the BSOD stops when you remove everything… so talking about peripherals… uninstalling drivers for those devices etc… and also uninstalling software except for the basics… run like that for a while and see if it still happens.,.. if not install one back… run like that for a while and see if it still happens etc…
    Good luck…..

  • CatDog

    following your adviced on driver verifier caused my windows 10 computer to go into a loop of death:( (previously just crashed a fee times a day, now never starts)

  • moony Amer

    the same happened to me, i had to make system restore to be able to start
    the windows

  • ussantos

    You need to enter in safe mode, by pressing F8 before Windows try to start, run verifier again and choose Delete Existing Settings




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