Troubleshooting Stop messages: general strategies

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Troubleshooting Stop messages: general strategies

This topic describes a general method for troubleshooting Stop messages or unexpected shutdowns. For more information, see the following:

You can use the System Information tool to gather important information about system settings, problem devices, and hardware resources. For more information, see System Information.


  • To ensure system stability, install the latest service pack that is appropriate for your system (follow service pack instructions) and use only signed drivers. For more information, see Windows Update at the Microsoft Web site. For a description of the different ways you can use Windows Update, see Windows Update.

Follow these steps for any Stop error that does not display identifying text or specific troubleshooting steps:

  1. Use the Windows Online Crash Analysis tool at the Microsoft Web site. You can use this tool to send error reports to Microsoft and track their status by using your Microsoft Passport information. You can access the Online Crash Analysis Web site by using the Error Reporting service or by using your Web browser. When it is enabled, the Error Reporting service monitors your system for kernel and user mode faults that are related to operating system components and applications. With kernel-mode reporting, you can obtain more information about the problem or condition that caused the Stop error. For more information, see System and program error reporting overview.

  2. Use the File Signature Verification tool, which identifies unsigned drivers and incompatible system files on your computer. The system files and device driver files that are provided with the Windows Server 2003 family have a Microsoft digital signature, which indicates that the files are original, unaltered system files or that they have been approved by Microsoft for use with Windows. For more information, see Using File Signature Verification.

  3. If the Stop message is caused by a driver problem, you can use Device Manager to roll back to a previous version of the driver. For more information, see Roll back to the previous version of a driver. You may need to disable any newly installed drivers.

  4. Using a recent version of virus-protection software, check for viruses on your computer. If a virus is found, perform the steps required to eliminate it from your computer. See your antivirus software documentation for these steps.

  5. You can search the Knowledge Base for updated information on Stop messages. See Search the Knowledge Base at the Microsoft Web site, and then follow the instructions on the page. When typing keywords, use the Stop message number (for example, stop 0x0000000A).

    For more information about articles, troubleshooting wizards, and items that you can download, see Updated technical information.

  6. If you can start the operating system, check the System Log in Event Viewer for additional information that might help determine the device or driver that is causing the problem. Many Stop messages produce specific events that you can search for, such as Event ID 1001 (generated by various Stop messages) and Event ID 6008 (usually caused by an unexpected shutdown or a computer that does not restart correctly). To display a description of an event, in Event Viewer, double-click the event. For more information about Event Viewer, see Event Viewer.

    You can search the Knowledge Base for updated information on Event IDs. See Search the Knowledge Base at the Microsoft Web site, and then follow the instructions on the page.

  7. If you cannot start your computer, try starting it in Last Known Good Configuration or in Safe Mode, and then remove or disable newly added programs or drivers. For information about how to start your computer in Safe Mode, see Start the computer in Safe Mode. For more information about how to start your computer in Last Known Good Configuration, see Start the computer using the last known good configuration.


    • When you use Last Known Good Configuration, system setting changes made after the last successful startup are lost.
  8. Remove any newly installed hardware (RAM, adapters, hard disks, modems, and so on).

  9. Ensure that you have updated drivers for your hardware devices. Also, ensure that you have the latest system BIOS (for x86-based or x64-based computers) or the correct firmware (for Itanium architecture-based computers). The device or hardware manufacturers can assist you in obtaining these items.

  10. Run the system diagnostics supplied by your computer manufacturer, especially the memory check.

  11. Confirm that your hardware is designed for the Windows Server 2003 family by clicking the appropriate link in Support resources.

  12. If Safe Mode and other startup options do not work, you can consider using the Recovery Console. This method is recommended only if you are an advanced user who can use basic commands to identify and locate problem drivers and files. In addition, you must be an administrator to use the Recovery Console. For more information, see Recovery Console overview.