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A stop error occurs in Microsoft® Windows® when an event causes a kernel panic that results in a computer crash. The error gets its name from the stop message that appears on the blue error screen when the error occurs. Windows® writes information about the error in a dump file, which users can use to try to find a remedy for the issue. After a stop error occurs and the computer is restarted, the user can access an error report within Windows® and try to find the issue that caused the problem.
Many types of system conflicts can cause stop errors, but the most common culprits are device drivers, system memory, registry errors and input and output issues. If a driver does not function properly or conflicts with another driver installed on the system, the computer can go into a panic and display the stop error. Another common cause is an error in the page file the operating system uses to move data from the hard drive to the main system memory. Memory address conflicts are also a common cause of stop errors and occur when two devices try to use the same memory address.
When a stop error does occur, Windows® displays a blue screen that describes the problem in white text. The blue screen has four parts that show an error message, the operating system modules loaded in the memory, items that were going to be loaded when the error occurred and information about the kernel debugger. The error message includes descriptive words separated by underscores and usually gives the general reason for the problem that occurred. Although the items loaded in the memory are usually not what caused the problem, the items about to be loaded are helpful for troubleshooting the issue.
Although a stop error crashes the operating system, the operating system will often reboot properly when the computer reboots. The user can then perform a search for the specific stop error message he or she experienced and can locate information on how to fix the problem. Windows® also has an error reporting utility that lets the user read error logs and even connect to the Internet to send an error report. Although some system errors might not have a single solution or are simply a one-time occurrence, the error reporting service has a feature that can notify the user later if a fix becomes available.