How to Disable Windows Automatic Restart on System Failure

Stop the Auto Restart After a BSOD in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP

When Windows encounters a serious error, such as a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), the default action is to automatically restart your PC, presumably to get you back up and running quickly.

The problem with this default behavior is that it gives you less than a second to read the error message on the screen. It's nearly possible to see what caused the error in that amount of time.

The automatic restart on system failure can be disabled, which gives you time to read and write down the error so you can begin troubleshooting.

Blue screen of death in Windows
kelvinjay / Getty Images 

After you disable automatic restart on system failure, Windows will hang on the error screen indefinitely, meaning that you'll need to restart your computer manually to escape the message.

How to Stop Automatic Restart on Windows System Failure

You can disable the automatic restart on system failure option in the Startup and Recovery area of System Properties, accessible via Control Panel.

The steps involved in disabling the automatic restart on system failure option differ somewhat depending on which Windows operating system you use. These minor differences are called out below.

  1. Open Control Panel. In newer versions of Windows, the quickest way is to search for control from the Start menu or Run dialog box.

    Control Panel in Start menu for Windows 10

    If you're using an older version of Windows like Windows 7 or before, go to Start > Control Panel.

  2. In Windows 10, 8, and 7, select System and Security.

    System and Security icon in Control Panel for Windows 10

    In Windows Vista, choose System and Maintenance.

    In Windows XP, select Performance and Maintenance.

    If you don't see this option, it's because you're viewing Control Panel applets by their icon and not category. Just open System instead, and then skip down to Step 4.

  3. Choose the System link.

    System link in System and Security for Windows 10 Control Panel
  4. Select Advanced system settings from the panel on the left of the screen.

    Advanced system settings link in System applet for Windows 10

    Windows XP only: Open the Advanced tab of System Properties.

  5. In the Startup and Recovery section near the bottom of the new window, choose Settings.

    Settings button in System Properties window
  6. Select the box next to Automatically restart to remove its check mark.

    Automatically restart checkbox
  7. Select OK to save the changes, and then OK again on the System Properties window.

    OK button in System Properties applet

If you are unable to boot into Windows 7 following a BSOD, you can restart from outside the system via the Advanced Boot Options menu. The same technique is possible in Windows Vista.