Ntoskrnl.exe BSOD: What causes it? & How to fix it?

Blue screen of death is the most dreaded error in the computer world as there are literally unlimited reasons which can cause this problem. It might be caused by some hardware issues or software glitches. One of the more frequent reasons for this is due to the ntoskrnl.exe.

What is ntoskrnl.exe?

NTOSKRNL.exe is a system file known as NT kernel & system. It’s a system process and is located in the system32 folder in windows in the installation directory. It is also known as windows boot up the kernel and is a vital component and one of the key factors in charge of boot up process for NT based Microsoft operating systems. Other than that it also manages a bunch of other important tasks like memory management, security management, process handling, virtualization of hardware and more.

To perform all the above it holds several sub-processes such as memory manager, cache manager, I/O manager, configuration manager, object manager, process structure, security reference monitor and local procedure call. All together they are a part of executive services and system services. Due to such critical functions, ntoskrnl.exe is an important and most integral part of Windows operating system.

In the NT based windows operating systems, ntoskrnl.exe is part of the kernel mode. Kernel mode is something which acts as an intermediary between the critical system functions and user services and as such has full access to both software and hardware components of the system. Basically, any interaction that happens between user mode services and system critical modules has to happen via kernel mode only. Kernel mode contains executive services, kernel, kernel drivers, and HAL(hardware abstraction layer).


What causes ntoskrnl.exe BSOD?

Now even if the BSOD is caused by ntoskrnl.exe, it can further happen due to many related issues within it or related to it. It’s very important to narrow down the cause of the problem to as far as possible. Ntoskrnl.exe BSOD is usually caused by errors in memory management but we will take a look at all possible reasons which can cause this error as the solution to be provided can be after only we have identified the root of the cause of the problem. Some of the reasons that we have come across so far in the various BSOD caused by ntoskrnl.exe :

  • memory_management
  • irql_gt_zero_at_system_service
  • driver_power_state_failure
  • critical_structure_corruption
  • irql_not_less_or_equal
  • driver_overran_stack_buffer
  • page_fault_in_nonpaged_area
  • pfn_list_corrupt
  • system-service-exception
  • attempted_execute_of_noexecute_memory
  • apc_index_mismatch


As you can see these are the factors amongst what causes ntoskrnl.exe BSOD. Their root cause varies from process error to faulty drivers and to memory issues and more. We have covered all solution on how to fix ntoskrnl.exe BSOD and which steps are preferred over others for various sub-reasons behind the ntoskrnl.exe BSOD.

How to fix BSOD caused by ntoskrnl.exe

Depending on the reason behind the error, we recommend you to try out these solutions based on the fact that whether the issue behind causing ntoskrnl.exe BSOD is related to software drivers or hardware components.

Some of these solutions aim at fixing issues such as outdated drivers or faulty cache while others try to get the hardware back working properly. We suggest you try out these solutions considering the cause of your BSOD but before you must search your BSOD reason well to save time and prevent further harm from happening to your system.

  1. Update system drivers
  2. Reset overclocking settings
  3. Perform a memtest

Update system drivers

Most common reason for system errors that seem beyond reproach are outdated or wrongly installed system drivers. It’s always preferred to run windows update from time to time on a regular basis to keep the system updated and checked. Firstly you should check manually if any of the installed drivers are showing any issues or not.

ntoskrnl.exe bsod

To do this:

  • Open device manager either by using search console or typing devmgmt.msc in the run window.
  • After you have opened device manager see if any of the drivers show a yellow sign above them.
  • If you find any of the drivers with such then that driver needs to be rollbacked or uninstalled. Do that by right-clicking on it and opening it’s properties.

If the error still shows then just to be sure, run a system check using windows update and other repair tools provided by Microsoft or any trustworthy 3rd party application. If after a complete thorough check, an error comes again then take the rest of the measures.

Reset overclocking settings

Ntoskrnl.exe is recognized to be associated with a bunch of other issues as well, primary amongst them being overclocking and memory consumption beyond limits. To solve the BSOD caused by overclocking, you need to simply reset the overclock settings.

  • Turn off your computer by pressing down the power button for more than five seconds and wait for your system to shut down completely.
  • Start the computer again and as soon as the logo screen displays press the combination of keys needed to access BIOS. Most common combination is ctrl+alt+delete.
  • Now go to exit tab and then scroll down to load setup defaults and press enter. Confirm by selecting yes if asked to.
  • Then press F10 key to exit saving changes.

Try rebooting system now and if the error again presents itself then you need to attempt a different approach towards it.

Perform a memtest

Another most common and likely reason is of memory issues. It can be solved with a simple memory test. It runs automatically at the start of boot process itself once you schedule it.

  • Open windows memory diagnostic by typing it in search console.
  • Once it opens, select the restart now option or schedule it for later based on your preference.
  • Once the tool runs itself and performs an extensive memory check, results will be displayed to you and you will know what tasks to perform to fix this.

Other than the above mentioned there are few other less occurring reasons as well and if none of the above methods solved your problem then you must try these.

  • Try replacing your keyboard as sometimes issues with keyboard wire can cause this too.
  • For Windows 7 and below versions, you can try booting in last known good configuration. To do that press F8 while booting and select the option. For other versions, you can try to restore from a previous restore point.
  • If while usage, your hard drive has been making some noises or you suspect that something might be wrong with it then get it replaced. Damaged hard disks often cause ntoskrnl.exe to behave abruptly.
  • Ram can also cause the problems same as the hard drive, so check it using memtest and get it examined.
  • Registry and other minor issues should also be fixed by using relevant tools.
  • Damaged system files can cause many issues including this one.
  • Run this command to let system check and replace the corrupt system files.
  • Open the command prompt with administrator rights.
  • To do so, type cmd in search console, right-click it and select run as an admin.
  • Type sfc/scannow in the command prompt window.
  • Now sit back and relax while it checks the system for errors.

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All of these methods should have solved your ntoskrnl.exe BSOD error. If not then let us know in comments what you are seeing and we will help you.

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