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A Blue Screen of Death error message that occurs on Windows NT-based operating systems, including Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

The root cause of this error is the inability to load the startup drive's host adapter device driver. This can happen for several reasons:

  • The host adapter driver doesn't exist (ie: after moving a hard drive from one computer to another where the other computer uses a different type of disk drive host adapter)
  • A non-standard device handler is operating (ie: a boot sector virus) on the host adapter
  • The user has changed the HAL device driver for the computer itself, and the new HAL's hardware registry does not contain a compatible host adapter driver

Preventing this error means ensuring Windows has a working driver for your computer's disk drive host adapter. For example:

  • When moving a SCSI disk drive from one computer to another, also move its host adapter if possible. Alternately, use the same model of host adapter on the new computer, or pre-install the driver for the target computer's SCSI host adapter.
  • When moving an IDE or ATA disk drive from one computer to another, change the IDE disk driver from whatever brand it is to the Standard PCI IDE controller before moving it. After moving it, install the correct driver for the new computer's IDE host adapter.
  • If you believe you must change the HAL driver to troubleshoot a hardware problem, first consider updating the other device drivers or replacing defective devices first. Use devices Designed for Windows XP and look for a firmware BIOS upgrade for your computer. Otherwise, perform an in-place upgrade; see the Blue Screen of Death node for instructions. An in-place upgrade is the only supported method of changing a computer's HAL driver.
  • If you suspect a boot sector virus, remove the disk drive if possible, and connect it to another computer capable of scanning for viruses. Alternately, use your anti-virus software's emergency startup disk (or its CD-ROM if it supports starting from that) to check for and remove the virus. When finished, use your computer's BIOS options to disable starting from any device except for your hard drive.

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