Computers have many things in common with humans, which is why they’ve become such ubiquitous tools in today’s landscape. However, they’re also prone to vulnerabilities like computer viruses, just like the human body is prone to regular viruses. But does a blue screen mean your computer has a virus?
- Common Causes of the Blue Screen of Death
- How Can You Tell if Your PC Has a Virus?
- Final Thoughts
A blue screen doesn’t always mean that your computer has a virus. A blue screen is sometimes called the Blue Screen of Death (or BSoD), a Windows error with various causes. These causes include viruses, software incompatibilities, and even damaged hardware.
You need to understand viruses and how they could cause BSoDs on Windows operating systems.
I wrote this article to examine the connection between these two concepts and help you understand the best steps to take if your computer has a virus.
Keep reading to learn other causes of the Blue Screen of Death and learn precisely what may be responsible for the error on your computer.
Common Causes of the Blue Screen of Death
Whether you refer to it as a Stop Error, the Blue Screen of Death, or prefer the more colloquial term, BSoD, a blue screen can be pretty stressful.
It’s typically an indication that you’ve lost any unsaved work, and your computer might need a hard reset. But what exactly is the Blue Screen of Death?
The Blue Screen of Death indicates a critical computer operating system problem. Your computer’s operating system consists of essential functions, and BSoDs are signs that it has crashed.
And while an OS crash might seem scary, you can quickly resolve most BSoDs by performing a hard reboot.
Your computer should automatically do this after running a quick system scan to troubleshoot the problem.
Almost anything can cause BSoDs on Windows laptops, and they’ve been a feature of the operating system since Microsoft released the first version of Windows to the public.
Thankfully, the factors that result in blue screens are easy to identify.
Here are some common causes of the Blue Screen of Death:
- Malware and viruses.
- Driver issues.
- Low disk space.
- Software incompatibilities.
- Boot BCD errors.
- Power supply problems.
- Hardware incompatibilities.
- Bad system configuration information.
- Bad registry keys.
- Corrupt system files.
- Outdated BIOS.
The next portion of this article details these issues and describes how they could impact your PC:
Malware and Viruses
Viruses are dangerous computer software that can replicate and propagate from one device to another. They typically infect computers by hiding in regular files and then spreading afterward.
Once a computer has been infected, a virus can create several issues:
- Security complications.
- Performance problems.
- Data corruption.
- System crashes.
But how do viruses fit into this story? How can malicious software affect your computer so much that it results in a system crash?
As mentioned above, viruses are malicious applications that can mess with your computer’s regular operations, including the operating system.
An affected operating system can malfunction or even stop working, resulting in a blue screen.
Computer drivers are essential software that lets your computer’s operating system connect to and interface with hardware components. These components include the following:
- Your screen.
- The keyboard.
- The mouse.
- The network adapters.
Drivers work as translators and allow the operating system to interact directly with every hardware device connected to your computer.
Therefore, an issue with a driver could result in a hardware malfunction or interfere with the operating system’s functionalities.
This interference can lead to instability in the computer’s operations or even a complete system crash, resulting in a blue screen.
The most common issues with device drivers usually involve incompatibilities and damaged software, but a missing driver can also result in a Blue Screen of Death.
Low Disk Space
While your hard drive seems like a less critical piece of hardware, it’s essential to your computer’s operation. After all, it holds most of the information on your machine, including the operating system.
Computers have disk drives that store vital data when you perform specific functions.
Therefore, your computer might encounter serious errors if its hard drive has space issues. These errors typically result in a system crash and cause your computer to display a blue screen.
I usually tell folks that the best way to understand a computer is to think of it like a living thing, specifically a human.
And while it’s incapable of feats like creativity and lacks opposable thumbs, computers do need most of their systems to be in perfect harmony to work efficiently.
When your computer has incompatibility issues, it can result in operating system crashes and sometimes the BSoD.
Any software incompatibility can result in a problem, whether it’s a system software or third-party software you installed recently.
However, whatever the origins of your incompatible software, it can still prevent your operating system from functioning as it should and cause a fatal error.
Still, the software might not have been incompatible in the first place. If you have recently updated or installed new software, this can cause incompatibilities, leading to a system crash and the Blue Screen of Death.
Boot BCD Errors
Boot Configuration Data, or BCD, is a critical database environment that contains boot-related information and tells your computer how to start up correctly.
This database helps the Windows operating system hold and find all the boot files on your hard drive but also stores essential files like the boot options your computer needs at startup.
The BCD is usually located on a designated space on your hard disk, called a system partition, alongside other OS files.
At startup, the Windows boot loader uses the information in the BCD to load the operating system.
However, like every piece of software, BCDs can have issues. These problems could arise from missing or corrupt files, but the trouble could be with the boot loader itself.
BCD errors could also result from a damaged hard drive or motherboard.
And since BCDs are essential for Windows OS to start up, you’ll usually end up with a blue screen if there are issues with the database or related systems.
Power Supply Problems
Another reason your computer could have a blue screen or stop error is if the machine has one or more power supply problems.
The electricity powering your computer is essential to every component in the device, but a surge from the power source or disconnection on the motherboard could trigger a system crash.
However, you might also notice a BSoD if your operating system tries to warn you of a severe power supply problem that could damage your computer.
Still, it’s common to have blue screens if you’re experiencing minor power issues like a depleted battery or an incorrectly connected charger.
Hardware incompatibilities might not seem as serious as unsuitable software, but they can have similar effects on your computer.
An incompatible device might reduce system performance, affect essential processes, and impact your overall experience with your computer.
However, they can do much more. One or more incompatible devices, especially power-related hardware, can mess with your computer so much that it results in a system crash.
However, it’s not only power-related devices that can have far-reaching effects on your computer.
For example, an incompatible input or storage device could affect how your operating system writes or reads information, resulting in a Blue Screen of Death.
Bad System Configuration Information
As its name suggests, bad system configuration information is an issue that affects your computer’s system configuration.
In more technical terms, it’s an error or bug that affects your operating system and interferes with its normal operations.
The issue is typically caused by damaged, malfunctioning, or missing system files, but software and hardware problems can be equally responsible.
Bad system configuration information usually affects computers at startup, but a fatal error during operation can also result in a blue screen.
And since most users typically think of hardware damage when considering the effects of overheating, it’s easy to overlook how it could affect a computer’s software or OS.
Bad Registry Keys
The Windows operating system uses registry keys to store user preferences, configuration settings, and details about the PC’s hardware and software.
These keys are data that resemble file folders and contain a hierarchy of subkeys, with every key in the database having an assigned registry value.
The registry key allows users to monitor and control an operating system’s behavior and even allow radical modifications.
In a nutshell, we refer to bad registry keys as ones that are broken, corrupt, or contain false or inaccurate information.
These can result in several issues, including crashes, instability in the Windows operating system, and runtime errors while attempting to launch programs or access specific folders.
And since registry keys are so crucial to OS operations, a minor fault will almost always lead to a blue screen.
Corrupt System Files
System files are necessary files that your Windows OS needs to operate correctly.
They contain essential data like system settings, user profiles, configuration information, vital programs, and data related to the Windows OS.
They also include files the OS uses to boot your PC and the data required to run all programs on your computer.
A crucial component of the operating system, system files can cause the system to malfunction if they are destroyed or corrupted.
For example, a corrupt system file may prevent the operating system from completing some duties or operations, resulting in a system crash and an accompanying Blue Screen of Death.
BIOS is a term for Basic Input Output System, a piece of low-level software that controls hardware initialization and testing and OS booting on a computer.
The software is usually loaded when you turn on your computer and is kept on a chip on the motherboard.
The BIOS is the first software that runs when you turn on a computer and is directly responsible for every process during startup—including OS initialization.
Therefore, any issue with the BIOS, even if it’s outdated, can have severe consequences on your PC’s operations.
Most BSOD error codes are numerical, and each denotes a certain kind of issue that the system has experienced.
Depending on the root cause of the problem, the particular error code shown on a blue screen may change.
Consequently, it is impossible to identify whether a computer is infected with a virus based merely on the BSOD error number.
How Can You Tell if Your PC Has a Virus?
Now that we’ve explored how viruses can result in blue screens and the other common causes of the error screen, let’s dive into how you can tell if your PC has a virus.
After all, computer viruses can be sneaky and do not always result in blue screens.
Here’s how to tell if your PC has a virus:
- It has performance issues, particularly with speed.
- You see new, unexpected ads and pop-ups.
- Its default applications have changed unexpectedly.
- You observe that you can’t access some files on your PC.
- You notice frequent freezes, crashes, and blue screens.
I recommend you scan your PC with a virus scanner if you notice one or more of these symptoms. However, you should still run virus scans as often as possible if your system seems safe.
Still, your best bet against viruses is to install a high-quality antivirus program to ensure your computer is always safe.
Viruses are awful and affect your computer so much that they result in a critical error, usually indicated by a blue screen.
However, other problems can also result in BSoDs, which I’ve highlighted in this article.
You must take proper precautions, like installing antivirus programs to prevent BSoDs.