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

Escape the blue screen of death

An 0xc000000f error code message in Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7 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 was unable to complete its startup.

Cause of Error Code 0xc000000f

A Windows failed to start 0xc00000f 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 these cables can interfere with the system's ability to access important files properly.

A red error message on a computer laptop.
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How to Fix Error Code 0xc000000f

This tech issue has been known to affect both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7 operating systems. Several solutions 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 is accompanied by a few actionable tips for repairing your Windows device or restarting it. If the device is unresponsive, the suggested tips don't work, or you aren't provided with any system tips, continue to the next step.

  2. Perform a soft reset. Press and hold the power button on the 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 get your Windows device working properly again, perform a system update that can repair corrupted files, and prevent this situation from happening again. You may also want to perform an Error Check on each drive.

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

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

    If you connected your Xbox One controller, or another video game controller, to the PC, remove the controller by unplugging the cables and removing any dongles used to connect the controllers.

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

  5. Perform a force shutdown. A force shutdown is like a stronger restart for the Microsoft 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 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, and disconnect it from all power sources. Then, open it up and look at the wiring. Make sure the cables are firmly attached and if any are showing wear and tear, replace those cables.

    When you clean the wiring or other inner parts of your computer, don't use a cleaning agent or another liquid. Instead, use a dry cloth.

    Some Windows devices, such as the Surface line of products, cannot be opened. Attempting to open a Surface can void your warranty. Desktop computers are typically fine for inspection, but it's best to check the user manual and warranty papers before making any radical physical changes.

  7. Refresh your PC. If you tried everything else and you're unable to get rid of the 0xc000000f error message, refreshing the computer may do the trick. This process 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 blue screen of death. Select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC > Refresh your PC.

  8. Reset your PC. Resetting a Windows PC should be the last resort as it erases everything on the device and returns 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.

    When you use a cloud storage service such as OneDrive or Google Drive, the files you saved to these services can be redownloaded after the reset process is complete. 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. The files can be downloaded from the Windows 10 installation media page on the official Microsoft website.

    If you experience the blue screen of death, 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 use that operating system.

    Once created, insert the drive containing the Windows 10 installation media into the affected computer. Then, restart the computer, and it should boot to the data on the 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 these fixes due to an unresponsive Advanced Startup Options menu or system, 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 valid, you may be able to get a replacement for free, or, at the very least, a discount.