Where can I look up a Bug Check Code or BSOD?

There are a multitude of causes for what are commonly referred to as the infamous "Blue Screen of Death", aka BSOD. These causes include any and every part of the PC:

flawed, incorrect, missing, or corrupted device drivers (this is the #1 cause)
flawed or corrupted software application installations
corrupt registry or other operating system files
failing hardware devices

What is a BSOD? It is a system error in which Windows cannot continue to operate normally. By default the system will reset or restart once this error has occured. Windows Bug Check Codes are commonly called Stop Codes, BSOD's, or simply Blue Screen errors.

They commonly appear like so: 0X0000000A { 0XC0000011, 0X0008500C, 0X00000001, 0x00000000 }

The first code section is the actual bug check error code (BCCode) and the following are the parameters of the bug check error (BCP1, BCP2, BCP3, BCP4). We are most concerned with the BCCode. It tells us the nature of the error. The subsequent parameter codes mean different things per the initial BCCode. You can look up the meanings for these at Microsoft's MSDN Windows Development Center: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff542347(VS.85).aspx

If your Bug Check code is not found there, it may be found through searching support forums like http://support.microsoft.com.

Often, an offending file may be referenced on the screen with the Bug Check Code. You may see that "the faulting module: EXPLORER.EXE" or that "NVDISP.DLL stopped working", or it may reference some strange .SYS file you never heard of.

A quick search of the file name should tell you what software application it is associated with. For instance, NVDISP.DLL is associated with Nvidia Graphics Drivers. If the display drivers are crashing, you may want to update to the latest version of Nvidia display drivers to try and resolve the issue.