Seeing an ntoskrnl.exe BSOD error appear on your Windows 11 PC? Don’t panic, because you should be able to fix it using the steps in this helpful guide.
A Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) error is a sign that there’s something wrong with your Windows PC. It’s a critical error—your PC is forced to reboot when it appears.
This isn’t as catastrophic as it sounds, because BSODs are used to try and protect your system files (and PC generally) from further damage or corruption. You should try and investigate a BSOD by keeping track of the error message it displays. One such BSOD you might see is a ntoskrnl.exe BSOD on Windows 11.
The error suggests that there’s a problem with the Windows operating system kernel executable (ntoskrnl.exe). Without this file, Windows can’t run. If you’re getting this error, the following steps will help you to fix a ntoskrnl.exe BSOD on Windows 11.
Check Your RAM for Errors
One of the first things you should do is check is your system’s RAM integrity for possible errors. You can do this using the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool or another third-party utility.
To run a diagnostic test of your RAM, do the following:
- Click Start or hit the Windows key to launch the Start menu.
- Type memory and click the Windows Memory Diagnostic app from the top result.
- When the memory diagnostic tool launches, click the Restart now and check for problems (recommended) option at the top.
- Your PC will restart and boot into the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool and check for issues.
If the scan detects errors, try reseating and swapping RAM sticks in a desktop or reseat memory in a laptop if it’s accessible. If you continue to get errors, you’ll want to check with your PC’s manufacturer — hopefully, it’s still under warranty.
Run SFC and DISM Scans
In addition to the built-in memory diagnostics tool, you can run an SFC and DISM scan to check Windows for corrupt files. Corrupt files could be the cause of the ntoskrnl.exe BSOD error. SFC and DISM scans will search for corrupt system files and replace them with working ones.
You can run SFC and DISM scans on Windows 11 by doing the following:
- Right-click the Start button and select Windows Terminal (Admin) from the menu.
- Type the following command in the terminal and hit Enter.
DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
- Now, after the DISM scan completes, do a system file check by running the following command:
Ruch a Chkdsk Scan
It’s also worth checking your hard drive for errors, as a faulty hard drive could stop Windows from working properly. For example, you can use the built-in chkdsk utility to identify issues with your system drive.
To check your system drive for errors using chkdsk:
- Open the Start menu and type powershell.
- When Windows PowerShell appears, click the Run as Administrator option.
- When the terminal opens, enter the following command and hit Enter.
chkdsk /r /f
- The utility will prompt you to scan the next time you restart Windows 11 – type Y and hit Enter.
Check for Malware
If a virus or other shoddy malware resides on your system, it could be interfering with system functions. The Windows 11 security app scans for malware in real-time, but it might not catch everything.
You can scan for viruses and other malware using the following steps:
- Open the Start menu, type windows security, and select the top result.
- Select Virus & threat protection on the left and click the Quick scan button.
- If the quick scan option doesn’t find anything, run a deeper scan. Select the Scan options link and choose Full scan or Microsoft Defender Offline scan.
Note that deeper scans take longer to complete but are worth it if stubborn malware is causing the BSOD error. Also, if Windows Security finds nothing, try a virus scan with a free and trusted security utility such as Avast or AVG AntiVirus.
Check Your Device Drivers
Device drivers integrate tightly within Windows, allowing it to interface properly with your PC’s components. If a driver is corrupt, it can cause the ntoskrnl.exe BSOD error. Updating or reinstalling drivers can fix the issue. However, there are a lot of drivers, and it’s hard to know where to start.
If you recently updated a device driver and are getting the error, start with that device first. For example, if you update the GPU driver and get the error, start with it.
You can manage drivers through Device Manager by doing the following:
- Open Start, type device manager, and select the top result.
- When Device Manager opens, right-click the device you recently updated. From here, you can update, uninstall, or disable the driver.
Try a Clean Boot or Safe Mode
If you’re struggling to diagnose this issue, you may want to clean boot into Windows 11. A clean boot will use minimal startup apps and drivers to load the operating system.
A clean boot gives you more control over which services and apps run during startup than Safe Mode. However, the process can be tedious as you’ll want to boot your PC and enable apps and services one at a time.
If you’re still having issues or Windows crashes before getting to the sign-in screen, boot Windows 11 into Safe Mode. Once you’re in the Safe Mode environment, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt and attempt to fix the issue using the steps above.
Keeping Your Data Safe
If you get a ntoskrnl.exe BSOD error, don’t panic. One of the steps above should get your PC up and running again. Keep in mind, though, even if you fix ntoskrnl.exe BSOD on Windows 11, your data needs to be safe before a crash event occurs.
Windows 11 includes tools to help keep your data safe. You can create a restore point to roll back your system to a working state. It includes OneDrive for backing up data and syncing settings. You can also perform a complete system backup to protect your system from data loss.