What is a STOP Code?

An Explanation of STOP Codes & How to Find Them

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

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

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

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

Important: A STOP code or bug check code is not the same as a system error code, a Device Manager error code, a POST code, or an HTTP status code. Some STOP codes share code numbers with some of these other types of error codes 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. STOP codes 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 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. The STOP code 0x0000005C, for example, usually means that there's an issue with an important piece of hardware or with its driver.

I keep this Complete List of STOP Errors document here on my site, helpful for identifying the reason for a specific bug check code on a Blue Screen of Death error.

I have detailed troubleshooting information for many of those specific STOP codes in my list and if I do, following that advice is best. If not, see my How To Fix a Blue Screen of Death article for some overall help.

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 thing you can do is download and run the free BlueScreenView program. As the name of the program suggests, 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 that 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 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. See How to Prevent Windows from Restarting After a BSOD for help doing that.

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