Ntoskrnl.exe Causing Crashing? Here’s How To Fix
I had to visit a client site the other day because of an issue with ntoskrnl.exe on their Windows 7 computers. Ignoring the fact that they should have upgraded their operating system years ago, the issue they were having was that the process was causing regular blue screen crashes. If you also see Ntoskrnl.exe causing crashing here is how to fix it.
What is Ntoskrnl.exe?
Ntoskrnl.exe is a core Windows 7 process that is a legacy from Windows NT, hence the name. The kernel is a core process that looks after essential Windows functions. In this case, memory management, core processes and virtualization.
For most consumer computers, virtualization isn’t used, so Ntoskrnl.exe will just be partially responsible for RAM and Windows processes. Windows cannot work without this process so we have to fix it in order to use the computer. As the error is causing crashes and BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), we have to fix it anyway.
As usual, while the error syntax may mention Ntoskrnl.exe, it isn’t the kernel causing the issue. It is usually something else. Given that Ntoskrnl.exe looks after memory, it is often something affecting memory that is causing Ntoskrnl.exe to crash. Common causes are overclocking, drivers and memory hardware. Most often it is the first two and not the final one that is the issue.
Fix Ntoskrnl.exe causing crashing
To fix the crashing, we need to do one of two things. If you overclock your system, try running it without the overclock to see if it is stable. If it is, run a stability or overclock app to identify a more stable memory clock speed and retest.
If that doesn’t work, or you’re not overclocking, we need to do something else. Chances are that it is a driver causing the crashes so we should update all of those. We could create a minidump that will tell you exactly what goes on but that can be a pain. If you want to go that route, check out this page on the Microsoft website.
Otherwise, let us update all our drivers. As this is part of Windows 7 housekeeping anyway, it is time well spent.
Open Device Manager and work your way through the list of devices. You should update your graphics driver, audio driver, network driver, chipset driver, disk management utility if you have one, any peripheral drivers for printers, webcams, scanners or external hard drives.
Then perform a Windows update to make sure you have all of the available updates. Microsoft no longer publishes Windows 7 updates but we need to make sure you have those that are available. Finally, reboot your computer and make sure all of the drives are active.
If refreshing all of your drivers doesn’t stop Ntoskrnl.exe causing crashing, we should check Windows file integrity.
- Open a command line as an administrator.
- Type of paste ‘dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth’ and hit Enter.
- Let the process complete.
This is Windows’ file checking utility that will verify the integrity of Windows libraries and files. If any are missing or corrupt, Windows will download a fresh copy while they are available.
If that doesn’t work, we need to use MemTest86+. This is a memory checking utility that is best in class at checking RAM.
- Download MemTest86 from here. If you want to burn it to a CD, choose the appropriate copy. Otherwise use the bootable binary option for USB.
- Create the bootable drive and reboot your computer. Leave the media in place.
- Select to boot from that media when prompted and allow MemTest86+ to load.
- Run the test three separate times and note any errors it finds.
If MemTest86+finds errors, swap RAM sticks between slots and run the test again. If MemTest86+ still finds errors, you need to identify whether it is RAM or the motherboard slot. If the error moves with the RAM, it could be faulty. If the errors stay in the same place, it could be the motherboard.
If you have spare RAM or enough to run the computer without the stick causing errors, do so for a while to see if the error goes away. If it looks to be the RAM slot on the motherboard causing the error, use another and monitor it.
The majority of Ntoskrnl.exe errors happen on Windows 7 computers. Even though the kernel is still present in Windows 8, it seemed much more stable in that version. If, for some reason, you are still running a Windows 7 computer and see these errors, you now know what to do.
Got any other ways to fix Ntoskrnl.exe causing crashes? Tell us about them below if you do.