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Sometimes things go wrong, Windows crashes with a blue screen of death (also known as a BSoD), resetting the computer.
The blue screen contains some information about the cause of the error, often that information can help you solve the problem almost immediately. However, most systems are configured to restart automatically when a blue screen occurs, thus there is not enough time to actually read the text on the blue screen.
You're missing a great deal of data - the name of the faulty driver, the code of the error itself, and some addresses which might be useful later.
To prevent that from happening, Windows can be configured not to restart the system automatically when such a crash occurs. This gives you enough time to analyze the data on the blue screen and figure out whether something can be done about it.
To do that:
From now on, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the view of the blue screen, it will be displayed until you press the reset button (laptop owners beware: if you don't have a reset button, you'll have to turn the system off, then turn it back on).
Basic troubleshooting steps
Minidump - what do I do with it?
By default Windows will create a minidump, and store it to %windir%\minidump. The minidump contains information about the state of the system before the crash; these data can be used to understand what caused the error, and how to fix it (once you find the offending driver, it's a good idea to contact the authors of that module and give them the minidump as well).
Note that interpreting a minidump is not easy if you are not an experienced developer. You are more likely to have a positive result if you try the tips described above. If nothing helps, get hold of the created minidump and send it to someone who knows what to do with it.
If you want to give it a try yourself, use Microsoft's Debugging tools for Windows. Once you run the debugger, go to File\Open crash dump, and then you're on your own.
How to enable minidumps
Some may choose to disable the creation of minidumps (to save space perhaps?), but they are very important when troubleshooting a problem. To enable the minidumps:
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