Interpreting the five disk-related Blue Screen of Death errors

A dreaded Blue Screen of Death error message can provide insight into the root cause of the failure. Here you'll learn what the five most common disk-related BSOD Stop messages mean.

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The Windows operating system is fairly resilient when it comes to recovering from errors. Even so, file system corruption, viral infections, disk controller failures and similar catastrophes can cause Windows to experience an unrecoverable error. When this happens, Windows displays the error in full-screen, non-windowed, text mode -- better known as the Blue Screen of Death.

Whenever a Blue Screen of Death (aka BSOD) error is displayed, the error contains a Stop message -- a short error message meant to give you a clue as to the cause of the problem. There are five different Stop messages that are commonly displayed when a BSOD error is disk-related. This is what each one means.

Stop 0x0000007B or INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE

This error message only occurs when Windows is booting. Two conditions can trigger this error:

  • Windows was unable to initialize the disk hardware.
  • Windows initializes the disk hardware, but does not recognize the data found on the system volume.

Whenever I've seen this error, it was caused by corrupted or incorrect device drivers for the disk controller. (This is particularly common when the system is booting from a SCSI drive or a RAID array.) However, this error can also result from file system corruption, a boot sector virus or disk-related hardware problems. It can even occur on new systems in which the disk controller contained outdated firmware.

Stop 0x00000050 or PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA

Actually, this particular Stop error is not always disk-related. More often than not it's related to faulty memory. The error indicates that the system tried to read data from the system memory, but that the requested data was not found.

When the above error is disk-related, it can usually be traced to either a corrupted disk volume or faulty disk cache memory.

Stop 0x00000024 NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM

In newer versions of Windows, this error message almost always points to either corrupted system files on an NTFS volume or to bad blocks on the hard drive. In either case, I recommend running the chkdsk tool with the /F switch to correct the error. Although chkdsk can repair many types of disk errors, you may end up having to reinstall the latest Windows service pack (or reinstall Windows if no service packs exist yet) so that system files are overwritten with clean versions.

Older versions of Windows produced this error message for other reasons. The AppleTalk driver was known to trigger the error if too many files were present on a shared volume. The error might also be attributed to the use of an incompatible antivirus program or disk utility.

0x00000077 or KERNEL_STACK_INPAGE_ERROR

This is another error message that can point to several causes. The error itself indicates that the system attempted to read data from the pagefile, but was unable to locate the requested page. The cause is often a memory error or else a storage hardware problem, such as a loose data ribbon, incorrect SCSI termination or bad sectors on the hard disk. The problem can also occur if another system component has a resource conflict with the disk controller, or if a virus is present.

Stop 0x0000007A or KERNEL_DATA_INPAGE_ERROR

Although this error refers to the actual pagefile data rather than the stack, the actual causes of the error are identical to those of a KERNEL_STACK_INPAGE_ERROR. The only real difference is that, in rare cases, this error can occur if the system runs low on non-paged pool resources.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server, Exchange Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. He writes regularly for SearchWinComputing.com and other TechTarget sites.

This was first published in August 2007

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