What Is a STOP Code? (Bug Check Code, BSOD Code)

An Explanation of STOP Codes & How to Find Them

A STOP code, often called a bug check or bug check code, is a number that uniquely identifies a specific STOP error (Blue Screen of Death).

Sometimes the safest thing a computer can do when it encounters a problem is to stop everything and restart. When this happens, a STOP code is often displayed.

The code can be used to troubleshoot the specific issue that caused the Blue Screen of Death. Most are due to problems with a device driver or your computer's RAM, but other codes can imply problems with other hardware or software.

Screenshot of a Windows XP BSOD with a STOP code
STOP Code Example (Windows XP).

These codes are sometimes referred to as STOP error numbers, blue screen error codes, WHEA errors, or BCCodes.

A STOP code or bug check code isn't the same as a system error code, a Device Manager error code, a POST code, or an HTTP status code. Some of these codes do share numbers with the other ones, but they are completely different errors with different messages and meanings.

What Do STOP Codes Look Like?

STOP codes are usually seen on a BSOD after the system crashes. They are displayed in the hexadecimal format and are preceded by a 0x.

For example, a Blue Screen of Death that appears after certain driver issues with the hard drive controller will show a bug check code of 0x0000007B, indicating that's the problem.

STOP codes can also be written in a shorthand notation with all the zeros after the x removed. The abbreviated way of representing STOP 0x0000007B, for example, would be STOP 0x7B.

What Do I Do With a Bug Check Code?

Much like other types of error codes, each STOP code is unique, hopefully helping you indicate the exact cause of the issue. 0x0000005C, for example, usually means there's an issue with an important piece of hardware or with its driver.

Here is a Complete List of STOP Errors, helpful for identifying the reason for a specific bug check code on a Blue Screen of Death error.

Other Ways to Find STOP Codes

Did you see a BSOD but weren't able to copy down the bug check code quickly enough? Most computers are configured to automatically restart after a BSOD, so this happens a lot.

Assuming your computer starts up normally after the BSOD, you have a few options:

One option is to run the free BlueScreenView program. This little tool scans your computer for minidump files that Windows creates after a crash, and then lets you open them to see the Bug Check Codes in the program.

Something else you can use is Event Viewer, available from Administrative Tools in all versions of Windows. Look there for errors that happened around the same time that your computer crashed. It's possible the STOP code was stored there.

Sometimes, after your computer restarts from a crash, it may prompt you with a screen that says something like "Windows has recovered from an unexpected shutdown," and show you the STOP/bug check code that you missed—called BCCode on that screen.

If Windows never does start normally, you could just restart the computer and try to catch the STOP code again.

If that doesn't work, which is likely these days with super-fast boot times, you may still have an opportunity to change that automatic restart behavior. Learn how to prevent windows from restarting after a BSOD for help doing that.

  • How do you fix a BSOD?

    Depending on the STOP code, you'll most likely need to repair a corrupt device driver. The easiest way to fix a driver is to use a driver updater tool. Use one to locate and install a new and possibly updated hardware driver.

  • Is a BSOD a virus?

    A BSOD or STOP code can be a corrupt device driver. Unfortunately, there are a few ways the driver corrupts, including being infected by a virus. To eliminate this possibility, scan your computer with antivirus software.

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