[NOT SOLVED] Documentation: Bluescreens with ntoskrnl.exe

Abstract: This is a consistently updated summary of diagnoses and test results for my computer, which currently suffers from heavy bluescreens. It shall provide myself some place to sort my investigations, and may help others who have similar problems. Suggestions and advices are always welcome!

The Problem

Starting on June 12, my desktop computer started to randomly throw Bluescreens. The machine, running on Windows 10, provided error messages like:

  • MEMORY_MANAGEMENT
  • KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED
  • IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
  • IRQL_UNEXPECTED_VALUE
BlueScreens

The bluescreens also showed strange behaviour. On June 12, when they showed up first, restarting the machine and thus Windows resulted directly in another bluescreen. I had no chance at all to enter my operating system. A good reason for me to shut down the computer and go to bed. Before anyone asks – yes, I had done complete shutdowns in the process before.
Some days later (on June 16), I came back to it, started the machine – and was able to enter Windows. I was even able to work and play on my machine for some hours, before the next bluescreen happened. Since then, the bluescreens show up very irregular. On June 16, I even had bluescreens while waiting at the login screen. Afterwards, I let my computer run for some hours, waiting in the login screen – nothing happened.
In other words: the timing and source for these bluescreens is so far a complete mystery to me.

From July 17 on, the problem has changed a little bit. The computer is running again – so far no bluescreens, even though I did not try to play games so far. But restructuring my files (including saving all my local files) was possible just as doing some programming. Now, my computer shows another strange behaviour: whenever I access the data on my computer, the explorer.exe is crashing – including all explorer instances, the task bar, the desktop. Plus, the explorer started to open new windows whenever I click certain folders. It should just show the content in the existing window, though.
The downside to this problem: I wanted to do a Windows Inplace Reinstallment, but I would need to mount the ISO file. Mounting the ISO file directly leads to a crash. I could try a flash drive – however, I have to organise one, first. The only one I possess has not enough capacity. Or I would have to burn the ISO onto a DVD – again, I need to buy some DVDs first. Well. At least, I can use my computer at the moment, even though some aspects like looking at images is really uncomfortable. But the system is still far from being okay!

Diagnosis

A rather superficial research on the internet led me on two possible tracks: there might be a software problem with my drivers installed (old or competing drivers). Or there is a hardware problem, most likely with my RAM. I cannot completely deny the first version – I had installed a programme on that particular day. Unfortunately, I was not able to find out which drivers might have been changed.

Windows Dumps

I checked the Windows dump files, which are created in the event of an occuring bluescreen. In most cases, a process named “ntoskrnl.exe” was indicated as source for my problems. The kernel. In other words: my machine has no clue what is going on. At least, my computer is as clever as I am. That’s something. I hoped to get more information with more bluescreens happening – as the error messages changed, maybe the sources might show up. They did not so far.

Windows RAM Test

I checked my RAM with the onboard tools of Windows – the whole system restarted and Windows double-checked my RAM. The result: no problems were found.

MemTest86

Trying to check my RAM, I used Memtest to check the integrity of my hardware. Now, here is the funny thing: the first time I did that, it threw a lot of errors. Especially after Test #5, I got more than 60 errors.

Some weeks later, I did the exact same test, without changing anything. The result: seven complete rounds, multiple hours (and in two sets on two different days), without a single error message. I am not quite sure how to interpret that. Maybe, a long phase of inactivity can have impact on the RAM? But its content should be gone after deactivating the machine, shouldn’t it? At least I am slightly positive that the RAM might not be affected, speaking of a hardware malfunctioning. The negative aspect: I have no clue where to look next.

ScanDisk

I ran ScanDisk to determine if there are any problems with my HDD. Did it several times (like seven or eight times in a row), no problems at all.

Driver Verifier

I also tried the Driver Verifier from Windows. As far as I understood, this tool is running while the computer is used – and whenever drivers are causing trouble, a bluescreen is thrown by the driver verifier itself. I still have to figure out what to do with the information, though. As you can see in the screenshot above, that driver verifier threw two exceptions – but I am not really able to read anything useful from it. I wish I knew which drivers might be a problem…
Anyway, I’d love to see that as a sign that the whole bluescreen problem is actually a software thing? Unfortunately, I cannot be sure. What, if those malfunctionings were just caused by some wrong communications between RAM and CPU or whatever? If anybody has some interesting insights and expert knowledge here, additional information would be appreciated.

Further Ideas

  • Letting things run – unfortunately, these bluescreens happen unregularly, therefore I have to take quite some time to determine whether the problem still exists or not.
  • Use Linux – use another operating system to see if the problem is a software problem. Or a hardware problem.

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