The dreaded blue screen of death or BSoD for short, is a stop error screen that is displayed on your computer’s monitor when your Windows computer runs into a fatal system error. Typically, your computer will crash unexpectedly, then restart automatically, and show a subsequent blue screen which gives you the error it encountered. While there are numerous stop errors or bug checks that can occur, in today’s article, we are going to be looking at the ‘IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal’ error which has a numeric code of 0x0000000A. This error can come up for a wide variety of reasons. Let’s take a deep dive into what this code means across all of its variations, what causes it to occur, and outline 7 methods that you can use to fix it.
What is the IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal error?
When you see the ‘IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal’ error pop up, the most common reason for it is due to either a page fault, which is an attempt to access a “non-resident” virtual address, or due to a memory access violation, which is an attempt to write data to a read-only page or to access an undefined page. When these reasons occur, your computer will handle them if they are at IRQL level 0 or 1, either by using a system-supplied code or via an exception that is provided by a developer.
However, when they occur when your system is dealing with IRQL level 2 tasks, these reasons or exceptions cannot be addressed and your computer crashes as a result. So, in short, this error code specifically means that “an exception type that can only be handled at IRQL 0 or 1 has occurred when IRQL was 2 or higher, hence the wording that it is not less than or equal to one. Another way to word this is that Microsoft Windows or a kernel-mode driver accessed page memory with an invalid address while being at a raised interrupt request level. This bug check code comes with a value of 0x0000000A.
What are the causes that trigger the 0x0000000A error?
There are several factors that determine when the ‘IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal’ error will occur and while we have mentioned a few above (page fault & memory access issues), there are several other major reasons that can cause it.
- When your drivers are outdated, damaged, installed wrong or are incompatible. When your device drivers are incompatible with your Windows system, you will get the IRQL error code because no input or output executions can be sustained. Essentially, your computer cannot do what you are asking it to do because the device is unsupported due to improper drivers.
- You have compatibility issues with your RAM. If you recently updated your RAM or had it upgraded from a retailer/computer shop and the ‘IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal’ pops up soon after, it could mean that your RAM is either not compatible or was installed incorrectly.
- You recently did a Windows update. This is one of the most common reasons that the IRQL error code pops up. It does so due to inaccuracies with the software updates; a fix for it is to uninstall the updates and see if the issue persists. Ideally, if you have updates to do, do them a few weeks after they are released to mitigate rollout errors.
- A kernel of the operating system cannot be utilized. If you receive the ‘IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal error alongside ntoskrnl.exe then you have a serious issue on your hands. The ‘ntoskrnl.exe’ is a core (kernel) of the operating system and the IRQL error code is letting you know that there’s major issues in executing it. This is caused by Realtek HI Definition Audio Drivers. Fix these up as soon as possible.
- You recently overclocked your computer. If you have overclocked your computer to get faster performance out of your components, you get the IRQL error due to issues that popped up during the overclock process or issues with the overclocking software. The fix is to retract the overclocking process and see if the error still persists.
- Your CPU is overwhelmed. If you run CPU intensive programs for long periods of time, your CPU is going to get hot. If you do not have enough ventilation going on within and out of your computer, the CPU can overheat. When this happens, your computer may not be able to complete tasks as efficiently, resulting in the error. Use a cooling pad under laptops and dedicated cooling software/water cooling system in desktop computers.
Other things that can cause this error is faulty hardware, disk fragmentation, registry issues, and viruses/malware attacks. Now that you are aware of the major reasons behind why the ‘IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal’ error occurs, there are several ways that you can use to fix the problem.
7 methods for fixing the ‘IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal’ error
Boot your computer into Safe Mode to check for software Issues
While this isn’t a direct fix to the problem, it can tell you if the error code is popping up due to software or hardware issues. If you boot your computer into safe mode and the problem carries on, you know that it is an issue with your computer’s hardware.
Here is how to boot into Safe Mode:
- In the start menu click the Power icon.
- Choose the Restart option while holding down your Shift key.
- Choose the Troubleshoot option that comes up.
- Hit the Advanced options, then Start up settings, and hit Restart.
- When Windows reboots, select the Safe Mode option.
- Check to see if the problem persists while in Safe Mode.
Run the built-in Windows Memory Diagnostic tool
This will test your RAM to see if there is anything wrong with it. To do this, do the following:
- Type “memory diagnostic” into your computer’s search box and click on the application that pops up with the name, Windows Memory Diagnostic.
- You will be provided with two options. Use the first option to have the application restart your computer and run a scan on the RAM.
- If it comes back with an error, check to make sure that your RAM is installed properly. If it is, consider replacing it.
- If you get no errors, the problem is being caused by something else.
Run a system refresh
When you install a lot of drivers or third-party software, over time these can become outdated and cause conflicts. If you have installed a lot of software or drivers recently and don’t know which one may be causing the problem, you can do a system refresh. It will not cause any personal data loss and it will reset all of your settings back to default values. However, to do this, you will need to have a restore point that was prior to the IRQL error coming up.
- Search up your Control Panel, go into it and click on System and Security.
- Click on System and in the left-hand navigation menu, you will see System Protection. Click on this.
- Choose a location where you would like the restore point and hit Finish.
- Your computer will restart and restore.
You can also do a hard reset without losing your files by using the “reset this PC” option.
- Type “settings” into your search bar and open the Settings app.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Select the Recovery option in the left-hand menu.
- Click the “Get started” under the “Reset this PC” option and make sure to keep your files.
- Follow the on-screen instructions and complete the hard reset.
Check your Registry for damaged files.
If you have any file corruption, they can cause the ‘IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal’ error. You will want to make a backup of your computer before you do this.
- Type ‘cmd’ into your computer search bar and right-click on the Command Prompt application that comes up. Run it as an administrator.
- Type in the following command: “sfc /scannow” then hit enter.
- Wait for the scan to finish and if corruption is found, Windows will automatically repair it.
- Restart the computer and see if the problem still persists.
Note: If you run into an SFC /Scannow error when starting the scan, don’t worry. We have written dedicated articles on what to do if SFC scannow is not working, including:
- Windows Resource Protection Could Not Perform The Requested Operation
- Windows resource protection could not start the repair service
Check your hard drive disk (HDD) for corruption
Similar to the above method, run the Command Prompt application in administrator mode. Type in “chkdsk C: /f” and hit enter. Make sure to replace “C” with the disk you want to check. The scan will complete and tell you if any errors are found. If there are, you will need to run the Command Prompt again and type in “chkdsk C: /r” and hit enter to get it to repair the damage.
Run a full antivirus system scan to check for malware
You will want to run a full system scan with your antivirus software to see if you have any viruses or malware. You can use the built-in Windows Defender software or a third-party antivirus if you have one.
With Windows Defender, do the following:
- Type “windows security” into your computer’s search bar and click on the Windows Securtiy app.
- In the new window that pops up, click on the Shield icon that says Virus and Threat Protection.
- You will see when the last scan was and a button to do a quick scan. What you want is the Scan options button underneath. Click it.
- Choose the Full scan option and hit the Scan now button.
Update your drivers
To update your hard drive drivers, you will need to open up File Explorer and then right-click on “This PC” and choose the manage option.
In the Device Manager, you will want to open up the Disk drives menu and right-click each device underneath and choose the Update driver option. Reboot your computer after each update is done.
If none of these solve the IRQL_Not_Less_or_Equal (0x0000000A) error, you will need to perform a clean installation of your Windows operating system. You will need access to either a bootable USB drive that has Windows on it or the Windows disk that came with your computer.