Any Windows version have had problems with a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) at some point of using, its root cause is variable, and Windows 10 have not seen the end of it too. Many Windows users have reported that they have been crashed with irql_not_less_or_equal BSOD. We are going to make a bit more clear of this issue.
irql_not_less_or_equal error is similar ntoskrnl.exe error, which was most likely caused by Realtek HiDefinition Audio drivers. We list the most common situations where this error occurs:
- irql_not_less_or_equal ntoskrnl.exe
Remember, this executable file is the core of the OS (operating system) and usually indicates that the issue is pretty severe.
- irql_not_less_or_equal overclock
You could experienced this error after overclocking your PC. Disabling overclocking may fix this error.
- irql_not_less_or_equal cpu overheating
If your CPU overheats and it may actually cause this error. As stated solution, disable overclocking to reduce overheating.
Check for any particular apps and programs that are putting a strain on your computer and disable them as soon as possible.
- irql_not_less_or_equal after RAM upgrade
This Blue Screen of Death error occurred shortly after RAM upgrade was reported. Make sure that the new RAM is compatible with your device.
- irql_not_less_or_equal after Windows update
In very rare cases, this error may occur after you install the latest Windows updates. Uninstall the updates and check if the issue persists.
- irql_not_less_or_equal and memory_management
Sometimes, these two BSOD errors go hand in hand. Users reported that when the first error occurs, the second one follows it after reboot.
We have a dedicated troubleshooting guide on how to fix memory_management errors on Windows 10. The following guides may help you solve the problem.
- Boot your PC in Safe Mode
- Check your Memory and Hardware
- Do Refresh or Restore your PC
- Repair your registry to fix corrupted files
- Perform disk checking for errors
- Run a full system scan
- Clean Windows install
1. Boot your PC in Safe Mode
We have written a guide to boot into Safe Mode on Windows 10 or 8 and summary it here:
- Press and hold the Shift key and click the on-screen power button;
- Select the Restart option while still holding the Shift key down;
- Choose Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Startup Settings then Restart;
- Select Safe Mode after reboot complete;
- Check if the problem persists.
2. Check your Memory and Hardware
If first step show that the problem is not related to the software you have installed on your computer, now you should try to debug your computer’s hardware.
The irql_not_less_or_equal error usually occurs when something tries to access a memory location which it doesn’t have permission to. You should do test the RAM of your PC. An utility is integrated in Windows which can do this for you.
Here’s how to work with the utility:
- Hit Windows key and type in “Memory Diagnostic”, then open the Windows Memory Diagnostic;
- In the newly open window, select one options that suit you. If you prefer to the first one, your Windows will restart immediately and let the system scan the RAM;
- If return result is an error, then replace the RAM and everything should be back to normal.
- If it didn’t return any errors, then the problem resides elsewhere.
Note: If your motherboard’s BIOS has the Memory Caching feature, disable it. Keep in mind that any change in the BIOS environment can be dangerous, so do not attempt to modify other settings if you don’t know what they are.
Checking the hardware is a tedious process. You will need to unplug all connected and non-essential devices from the PC (which means everything except mouse and keyboard) and then disable their drivers.
After any reboot, make sure all the drivers are still disabled, and one by one, re-enable and reconnect the devices. Do not plug in or enable more than one device at a time. Only one at a time and use the computer and the device after you have plugged it in.
If the error does not show up, then that driver is clear and you can move on to the next one. Do this until you have either added and enabled all the devices, or until the Blue Screen of Death bump up.
If error happens in process, it means the last driver you enable is the problem. Boot in Safe Mode and completely uninstall the driver. Try to download the latest version of the driver from the manufacturer and install it again. If it still does not work, the driver has a compatibility problem with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.
Note: If the irql_not_less_or_equal error occurs after a driver update, try to roll back the driver and see if the problem persists. To do this, enter Device Manager and locate the driver in question, right-click it and select Properties. Under the Driver tab, you will find the option to roll back the driver.
3. Do Refresh or Restore your PC
Windows 10 allows users to refresh their PC, which means all the settings will be reset to their default values. This precess will not affect any your personal files, so you can confidently run it without the fear of data loss.
A system restore is a possible option if the error shows itself after you have installed multiple drivers and third party software. In order to do this, you need to have a created restore point prior to the install of the software. This is a good habit to have, but remember that it will take a large free space of your drive.
If you do have a system restore point, you can revert your system back to the point it was created, but all the information you added or changed to the drive after the point will be deleted.
If your computer have System Restore option was enabled, follow below guide to work with it in Windows 10:
- Hit Windows key on your keyboard and type ‘system properties’ to search, open System Properties;
- In System Protection tab, click on System Restore;
- Choose Next, and select your preferred restore point in the open window;
- Click Next and then click Finish;
- Your computer will restart and start the restoring process.
A series of advanced recovery option was intergrated in Windows 10 that allows you to clean install the opareting system. If your computer is running Windows 10, you can also use Reset this PC option:
- Go to Settings → Update & Security → choose Recovery under in the left panel;
- Choose ‘Get Started under Reset this PC’ then ‘Keep your files’ option.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the reset.
4. Repair your registry to fix corrupted files
Files corruption may also is the root cause of the irql_not_less_or_equal BSOD. You can fix it by repairing your registry.
Note: Don’t forget to first backup to restore your registry in case anything goes wrong.
- Hit Windows key and type ‘cmd’, right-click Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator. Another way to do that is right-click Start menu or press the ‘Windows + X’ shortcut and choose Command Prompt (Admin), but when install Windows 10 Creators Update, you may notice Command Prompt missing from Power User Menu, it is easy to get it back here;
- Now type the ‘sfc /scannow’ command in open Command Prompt window;
- Restart your computer after the scanning complete. The process will replace all corrupted files on reboot. Check if the BSOD is fixed.
5. Perform disk check for errors
Your hard disk may also cause the irql_not_less_or_equal error in this case. The RAM (Random Access Memory) was checked in first step, now try checking your hard disk as well.
On Windows 10, you can run a disk checking using Command Prompt. Start Command Prompt as administratorandand type ‘chkdsk C: /f’ (C is the drive where Windows installed) command then hit Enter key.
The ‘chkdsk D: /f’ command can detect and repair logical issues affecting your drive. To repair physical issues, run the ‘chkdsk D: /r’ command as well.
On Windows 7, 8.1, right-click the drive where Windows installed, select Properties. In Tool tab, under the ‘Error checking’ area, select Check.
6. Run a full system scan
Malware may cause various issues on your PC, including the irql_not_less_or_equal error. Start a full system scan to detect any malware on your PC. Windows’ built-in antivirus Windows Defender is good choice or you could prefer third-party antivirus programs.
Follow these steps to start a full system scan using Windows Defender:
- Open Windows Defender;
- Select the shield icon in the left panel;
- Select the ‘Scan options’;
- Check the full scan option to perform a full system scan.
7. Clean Windows install
If all above steps fail to fix the irql_not_less_or_equal BSOD error, the only option left is install a new clean Windows. That means you will need a Windows installation disk or USB drive, you will delete everything on your system drive and install a fresh version of Windows 10, but this should be the last method.
You don’t need a Windows installation disk or USB drive if your computer is running Windows 10, because it includes a Reset this PC option that quickly restores Windows to its factory default configuration. It’s faster and more convenient than reinstalling Windows from scratch or using installation disk, USB drive, or even your manufacturer’s recovery partition.
Follow the steps listed in that article as final solution and check if your PC back to work normally.
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