How to create a Blue Screen of Death

How to create a Blue Screen of Death

Summary: Feeling nostalgic about the Microsoft Blue Screen of Death, which used to plague desktops in the bad old days of Windows? No need to keep those feelings locked away. This handy guide will show you how to force your PC to recreate the infamous error.


Feeling nostalgic about the Microsoft Blue Screen of Death, which used to plague desktops in the bad old days of Windows? No need to keep those feelings locked away. This handy guide will show you how to force your PC to recreate the infamous error.

WARNING: Save your work first. This process will lock up your whole machine in classic Blue Screen of Death mode. After using this powerful method, the only way to get back to work is to reboot.

This process should work in either Windows XP or Windows Vista, although we have only tried it using Vista.

First you have to edit the Windows registry. For Windows XP users, click on the Start menu at the bottom left of the screen, then "Run...". For Windows Vista users, click on the Start menu at the bottom left of the screen, and simply type "run" in the command box. Type "REGEDIT", to enter the Windows registry.

Now you will need to drill down through a rather large file tree. The file path is:


Insert a new "DWORD" entry into the registry.

Once you have reached the "parameters" directory, you need to create a new "DWORD (32-bit) Value". Name this value "CrashOnCtrlScroll". Now right-click on this new entry and click "modify". Change the data value to "1".

Set the data value to "1".

Now close the Registry Editor and restart your machine. Once your machine has restarted, hold down the right "Ctrl" key. Note that this won't work with the left Ctrl key, so make sure it's the right. Now tap "Scroll Lock" key twice.

You should now see the blue screen of death.

After rebooting, hold the (right) control key and hit scroll lock twice, this should give you a blue screen error.

The only way to get back to work is to reboot your entire machine.

So why would you want a Blue Screen of Death? We used it to test the capabilities of a remote recovery and management tool, details of which will be published soon.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Security

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  • Bad old days ???????

    Bad old days ??????

    Not a month ago my ATM card was swallowed up by a Blue Screening XP based ATM at my local shopping mall.
    Great...the stupid thing rebooted twice and kept my card so a great day of shopping that turned out to be.
    At work we get blue screens on XP all the time, another reason why we are not switching to Vista, as it's even worse ! The CIO cited reliability and support issues and Vista got the boot.
  • oohhhhhh!

    Nice teaser article! Well done!
  • Another way to create a BSOD

    You don't even need to do a registry edit.... as there is a builtin feature in Vista to bluescreen, tested with both RTM and SP1. Go to your taskmanager in Vista. Click on processes for all users, and end task csrss, or other critical windows files like kernel32. Instant blue screen. This BSOD was buged with Microsoft early on in the beta test cycle, however the issue was not resolved.
  • BSOD?

    What BSOD?
    I haven't had a Blue Screen for over two years on my XP (I use 2 at work, 1 at home), and my Vista Laptop...
    Not once... That's Stability... I trust Vista more.
    Now we're testing Macs at work... Dang thing has had to be restarted at least 4 times in the past MONTH! XP & Vista... as stable as you'll get with a modern OS!
  • My Vista finishing move

    admin console: taskkill /f /fi "username eq system"

    Thank you. I have never had a Blue Screen on my XP Media Center PC. I've had a referbed hp model for over five years.
  • XP and Vista are not even close to stable

    *nix with uptimes into the years are stable.

    XP and Vista are not.

    Are you in the employ of Microsoft ? Most aussies wouldn't use the word "dang" so I'm guessing you're an american that has been employed to astro-turf on Microsfofts behalf.
  • bsod the easy way

    With characteristic humour, MS happily supplies a screensaver which mimics the bsod. It can cause a bit of consternation in the cubicle... look on for the download.
  • BSOD

    Just wanna add to this. At work we get XP bluescreens a lot, at home, on my Vista machine I've never had one!

    For me, Vista works far better :)
  • Wow

    I hardly remeber what that looks like, looks like you are a victim of bad Windows engineering all around, my friend!
  • That's not a 'feature'

    Those are system critical processes that need to run. Take them out of the picture, and the system will crash.
  • New?

    This particular functionality (and it was put there for a purpose; to allow people who write software drivers to debug their code) has been there since NT4 days. Same registry key, same value.
    With these kind of journalistic scoops, I eagerly await the ZDNet article announcing the forthcoming release Windows 98.
  • Newflash !

    Windows still a steaming pile of crash-happy proverbial.
    Bears still p**-ing in the woods
    Pope still Catholic
    One legged ducks still swimming in circles.

    Move along, nothing to see here.
  • what

    i cannot believe you truly believe this.
    the uptime on my mac is just over 300 days, i've never seen a windows based pc last that long, even server 2003...
    i deal with BSOD'ing xp and vista boxes every day, it's common though we cant always blame microsoft, quite often its caused by dodgy malware drivers loading on boot, or bad hardware.
  • Haha

    That's a piece of the news I'd believe any day.
  • Why would you want to do that?

    That is an odd thing to do any way i just increase my clock speed and i get it :P
  • Microsoft OS's don't need modifying to get a bluescreen

    I've had a Microsoft XP computer running in my back room for a few years (not literally, just the standard 3 to 4 hours a day), and after 3 weeks of use, the thing kept giving me blue screens.... So I went through and replaced drivers, hardware and nothing worked (I even replaced the hard disk)... finally I just installed Ubuntu Linux and my problems were solved. No more errors... although Microsoft XP still gives me blue screens if I boot into XP...
  • Bad OS = Bad setup

    A bad tradesperson always blames his tools..

    If you go ahead and install old software or buggy drivers, you're bound to get BSODs. Yes, *NIX servers have years of uptime, but so do Windows 2003 servers. Good planning, stable drivers, spot-testing new patches and software and a good backup / rollback plan are the best ways to do things right.
  • huh

    i say dang
  • we

    thats not the real blue screen