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Issue #430: October 18–24, 2015

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Q: Constant issue with “thread stuck in device driver” error with almost every boot & have to start over. Tried everything suggested on line that I know how to do. Some worked for a few days. I’m scared of some suggestions for fear of causing more problems. My wife helps with some of my computer issues, but I know absolutely nothing about computers even though I received a BS in Computer Science in 1972 when they were the size of a bedroom and used punch cards! She can’t fix this either! I hate windows 8. I was happy with my old Windows XP on my 1997 Dell desk top…wife made me get a new one!

 – Kit C.
Crestview, Florida

A: Lots of us were happy with Windows XP, Kit, including me. I noticed that the system information you provided said you’re still using Windows 8., so one thing I would recommend would be moving forward to Windows 10. In my opinion it’s far better than any version Microsoft has released since Win 7, and since you were an XP lover, I think you’ll like it a whole lot better than Win 8.

The error about which you wrote seems to be a relatively recent problem. From what I’ve read online, it became prevalent after the release of Windows 8.1, and has continued with Windows 10. The frustrating thing about this is that many help forums will simply tell you to go to the Device Manager and look for yellow exclamation points to discover which device is malfunctioning, then go and get new drivers for them. However, in many cases, if you can get into the Device Manager, the device isn’t “stuck” at that time, so the system finds no fault with it and does not mark it. So, you go look, and there are no yellow exclamation points, and no way of telling for sure which device is at fault.

What is certain is that at least one of your drivers is having a compatibility issue, either with Windows itself, or something else your system is running. There is no one answer that fixes this problem for everyone, but the most common culprits seem to be network interface card drivers, video card drivers, and virus/malware scanners. So I would suggest a stepwise approach to diagnosing your problem. I’d recommend you start with a visit to the Dell support website, where you can check and see if they have any driver updates for your system. Download and install anything that’s newer than what you already have. Then, manually initiate a visit to the Windows Update site, which you can do from within Internet Explorer by clicking Tools->Windows Update. Make sure there are no hidden updates for system device drivers, and download and install any relevant updates. Next, try disabling or uninstalling your malware protection (keeping in mind of course, if you go out online that you’re doing so without adequate protection). If the problem doesn’t recur after several reboot cycles, consider switching to another vendor’s protection – there are many low cost/no cost options available.

As a bonus for those of you still reading, here is a link to the Microsoft article entitled “Troubleshoot blue screen errors” tinyurl.com/IGTM-0430A. If you’re really a tech Geek, and want to learn more about how to use the Kernel Debugger to do deep system-level diagnostics (seriously – this is only for those Geeks who like to get elbow-deep in system information) visit tinyurl.com/IGTM-0430B.

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