Error Code 0xc000000f: What It Means and How to Fix It

Escape the blue screen of death

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An 0xc000000f error code message in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 typically appears after an operating system update or after the installation of a new program. It may look something like the following:

  • File: \Windows\system32\winload.exe Error code: 0xc000000f

Error 0xc000000f almost always appears after a Windows computer has powered back on or after a restart as a way to inform the user that the Windows operating system has been unable to complete its startup.

Cause of Error Code 0xc000000f

Getting a Windows failed to start 0xc00000f type of error message is usually the result of a corrupted file, a damaged drive, or a malware or virus infection. Faulty or dislocated cables have also been known to cause the 0xc00000f error code message to appear as they can interfere with the system’s ability to properly access important files.

How to Fix Error Code 0xc000000f

This tech issue has been known to affect both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 operating systems. Fortunately, there are several solutions that have been known to fix it and get devices up and running properly again.

  1. Follow the on-screen instructions. Usually an 0xc00000f error code will be accompanied by a few actionable tips for repairing your Windows device or restarting it. If your device is unresponsive, the suggested tips don’t work, or you aren’t provided with any system tips at all, continue to the next step.

  2. Perform a soft reset. Press and hold the power button on your Windows device for at least 10 seconds. After the device turns off, wait a few seconds, then press the button once more to turn it on. This is a simple trick but can often fix any temporary glitches or bugs.

    If you manage to get your Windows device working properly again, it’s a good idea to perform a system update which can repair a lot of corrupted files and prevent this situation from happening again. You may also want to perform an Error Check on each individual drive.

  3. Remove any external drives. This has been known to fix the 0xc00000f error code on occasion. Simply turn off your Windows device, disconnect any external hard drives, and then turn your device back on. You may want to remove any connected USB storage devices as well.

  4. Remove all devices and accessories. Removing any connected mice, webcams, and other electronic devices from your computer and performing a restart could also fix your problem.

    If you've connected your Xbox One controller, or any other video game controller, to your PC, it's a good idea to remove them as well by unplugging their cables and removing any dongles used to connect them.

    Make sure your Windows computer or tablet is completely turned off and not just in sleep mode before disconnecting any hardware. 

  5. Perform a force shutdown. A force shutdown is kind of like a stronger restart for Microsoft’s Surface line of products that can often fix a buggy Surface device when a regular restart or shutdown won't work.

    For the latest Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, Surface Book 2, and Surface Go models, a force shutdown is usually performed by holding the power button down for 20 seconds until the Windows logo flashes. The method can differ for other Surface models.

  6. Check for faulty cables. If you have a Windows computer that can be opened up, power it down completely, disconnect it from all power sources, then open it up and have a look at all of the wiring. Check to make sure all of the cables are firmly attached and if any are showing wear and tear, you may want to replace them.

    If you decide to clean the wiring or other inner parts of your computer, refrain from using a cleaning agent or any other liquid and instead use a dry cloth.

    Some Windows devices, such as the Surface line of products, prevent users from opening them up, and trying to do so can void your warranty. Desktop computers are typically fine for inspection, but it’s always best to check your user manual and warranty papers before making any radical physical changes.

  7. Refresh your PC. If you’ve tried everything else and you’re still unable to get rid of the 0xc000000f error message, refreshing your computer may do the trick. This process essentially reinstalls the Windows operating system but doesn’t touch your installed programs or saved files. This option is accessible via the Advanced Startup Options menu on the famous “blue screen of death;” select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC > Refresh your PC.

  8. Reset your PC. Resetting your Windows PC really should be the last resort as it will fully erase everything on your device and return it to the way it was when you first got it. The Reset your PC option is also available within the Advanced Startup Options recovery options and can be found in Troubleshoot > Reset this PC > Reset your PC.

    While resetting your computer can seem quite daunting, if you use a cloud storage service such as OneDrive or Google Drive, all of your files saved to these services can be redownloaded once the reset process has completed. Likewise, any apps or media purchased from the Microsoft Store or other online stores can also be redownloaded.

  9. Reinstall Windows 10 from installation media. A Windows 10 installation media is an official Microsoft program that can be downloaded onto a USB drive or DVD and used to reinstall the Windows 10 operating system on a damaged PC or a new device entirely. The files can be downloaded from the Windows 10 installation media page on the official Microsoft website.

    If you’re experiencing the “blue screen of death,” you’ll likely need to download and create the Windows 10 installation media on a friend or family member’s computer. You can also make a Windows 8 recovery drive if you're using that operating system.

    Once created, insert the drive with the Windows 10 installation media on it into your affected computer, restart the computer, and it should immediately boot to the data on your drive. Once loaded, select Install Windows and follow the steps to reinstall the Windows 10 operating system.

  10. Contact customer support. If none of these tips work, or you’re unable to try them due to an unresponsive Advanced Startup Options menu or system, it may be time to call the official customer support for your Windows device’s manufacturer. While this can be frustrating, it’s important to remember that if your warranty is still valid, you may be able to get a replacement for free, or, at the very least, a discount.