How to Fix a Critical Process Died Windows 10 Error

Banish that blue screen for good

Windows 10 is one of Microsoft's most stable operating systems, but it still has the odd problem resulting in the blue screen of death, or BSOD. It's usually not as as serious as all that though. Even if you're getting Critical Process Died stop codes, don't panic. Here's how to fix that Critical Process Died Windows 10 error.

What is the Critical Process Died Stop Code?

Although a blue screen is a catchall error screen for Windows, the operating system uses it to do a couple of things. The first is to collect information from your PC to try to diagnose the problem and make sure it doesn't happen again. The second is to tell you roughly what the problem was with a specialized stop code.

In the case of the critical process died error, you'll see that on the blue screen. It will say something to the effect of, "Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart. We're just collecting some error info, and then we'll restart for you."

Underneath that it'll typically say, "If you'd like to know more, you can search online later for this error," followed by the error message. In this particular case, it should read: "CRITICAL PROCESS DIED," and it might list the code as 0x000000EF.

If it reads something else, you'll want to search for that error instead.

What Causes Critical Service Failed Errors?

Although it might sound serious, in actuality, a Critical Service failure just means a process which Windows relies on for operation has become corrupted. This isn't entirely uncommon and isn't too difficult to fix.

As is often the case with these sorts of issues though, it's not always entirely clear what caused it and so trying to fix it often means trying a few different things to see what works.

How to Fix Windows Stop Code Critical Service Failed Errors

With a myriad of potential causes for this error, there are also a number of potential fixes. They're listed here in order of potential effectiveness and difficulty to complete, so work your way from top to bottom in your quest to fix this critical service failed error.

If you find that your error shows up at specific times or after doing something specific, try that again after each of these fixes to see if you can replicate the issue and confirm whether it's fixed or not.

  1. Run an Antimalware Scan: You'd be surprised how often Windows blue screen errors can be caused by a nasty piece of malware or virus. Running a proper antivirus scan using your favorite antivirus software is a great first step to take when fixing any problem, but especially BSOD errors.

  2. Run the System File Checker: The system file checker is a great way to find problems in Windows and fix them quickly. Focus on scf /scannow for starters, as that should give your system a comprehensive once over to see if the problem can be identified, and fixed automatically.

  3. Run the Windows Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter: Microsoft's long-delayed October 2019 Update, otherwise known as Windows 10 build 1809, hid the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter away, but we can still make use of it to (hopefully) fix the Critical Process Died error.

    MajorGeeks has a different starting point than us, but its methods for running the troubleshooter are right on the money.

    If the troubleshooter identifies problems with any of your system's components, it may warrant replacing them. If you're using a desktop and it's memory, you can swap in some new RAM easily enough and they're not too expensive. If it's a storage problem, a new drive will also require reinstalling or cloning your Windows installation.

  4. Perform a System Restore: If you think a recent Windows update or software installation may have caused the problem, reverting to a recent restore point might fix it. Be wary though, as you may lose applications or any system changes that were made since that restore point was made.

    You'll need to wait a short while for the system restore to complete, but when it's done you should be free of your blue screen error.

  5. Reset or reinstall Windows: If nothing else has worked, you may need to completely reinstall Windows. It's not a complicated process, but it can be quite lengthy, requiring a few hours of downtime, especially when it comes to reinstalling all your applications and backing up important data. However, when all else fails, this often solves any issues you might be having.

    Reinstalling Windows will erase all the files and applications you have stored on your hard drive. Make sure you do a complete system backup beforehand, which you can use to restore those files once the re-installation is complete.