How to Fix Critical Process Died BSOD on Windows 7, 8 and 10

The 0x000000EF: CRITICAL PROCESS DIED boot error oftentimes appears for users of Windows, from Vista to Windows 10. It appears during startup, and it indicates that an important Windows process failed to run properly. Some of the probable causes may be system file corruption, a damaged file system, or incorrect device drivers.

As mentioned above, the most common cause is bad device drivers on an incorrectly configured Windows service. When that service encounters some kind of serious error, this message appears. The other situation is when a buggy, or not configured driver for a device, crashes during startup. The last possible cause for this problem is a damaged file system, which happens due to power outages, disk write errors or virus attacks.

Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions that you can try for this problem. Note that some may require the use of a Windows setup CD, or a USB drive. However, most are pretty straightforward and you’ll have no problems doing them.

Method 1: Use clean boot

If the cause is a driver or device that is recently installed, a clean boot doesn’t really loads these drivers, so this might help you solve the problem and identify the cause. The steps are different for Windows XP, Vista and 7, and Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. Below are the steps for all situations:

Windows XP/Vista/7

      1. Hit the Windows key, and type in msconfig in the search box, then open it. This gets you to the System Configuration Utility.
      2. In the General tab, choose Selective Startup, and uncheck Load Startup Items.

      3. In the Services tab, check Hide all Microsoft Services.

      4. Click Apply, and close the window. Reboot your computer, and it should clean boot, without problems.

Windows 8/8.1/10

  1. Follow steps 1 through 3 above.
  2. Right-click your taskbar, and choose Task Manager.
  3. From the Startup tab, disable all items.
  4. Reboot your device.

Method 2: Use the System File Checker

This method will scan your system files and repair anything that should be repaired. Note that you will need the installation drive mentioned earlier for this.

  1. Insert your disc, and boot from it by pressing any key when Windows asks you to.
  2. Once you select the language, time, and keyboard input, click on Repair your computer. Choose the Windows installation drive (most commonly the C:\ drive), and choose
  3. When faced with the System Recovery Options, open the Command Prompt.
  4. Write the following command, and press Enter to execute it. Make sure that C:\ is replaced with your system drive letter if Windows isn’t installed in the C:\ drive.

sfc /scannow /offbootdir=C:\ /offwindir=C:\Windows\

  1. Once the command is finished running, you should be able to boot into Windows properly.

Method 3: Update your drivers

If you’ve recently installed a new device, or a new device driver, this may be the cause for your problems. It may not be compatible with the Windows version you have installed, which in turn leads to problems. Follow the instructions below to update the driver.

    1. Press the Windows and R keys, and type in msc. Hit Enter to execute.

    2. In the Device Manager, find the device and/or driver you recently installed. Right-click it, and choose Update Driver Software. Follow the instructions to update the drivers automatically.

    3. Reboot your device in the end. It should boot up fine, if this was the problem.

Method 4: Re-install Windows

If the aforementioned solutions don’t do the trick, there might be something seriously wrong with your installation of Windows, and the best way would be to re-install it completely. If you aren’t someone who has done this before, keep in mind that this may delete all your personal files. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with this, ask a trained professional to do this for you.

  1. Boot from the installation media we mentioned earlier.
  2. Select your language, keyboard method, and time.
  3. Follow the instructions (carefully) to complete the process.

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