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A Guide to the “IRQL Not Less Or Equal” Blue Screen of Death Error

This error means you’re having a driver or service issue.

This article is part of a continuing series on Blue Screen of Death errors. A Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) is the error screen you see when Windows has a major issue. It halts the PC and displays some very important information.

Depending on the error message you get, the steps you need to take are different.

Error Name:


IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL means one of two things: driver issues, or a bad Windows Service caused by a backup utility or antivirus scanner. This is a similar, but different error to the previous one we discussed, KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED, so much of this guide will be familiar.


Driver Issues

Sometimes the additional information on your Blue Screen will list the specific driver causing the problem, but this isn’t always the case.

If it does list the driver, you’re going to want to disable it. If it doesn’t list it, read below.

Disabling a specific driver is tricky, but here’s how you do it.


Disable the Problem Driver

To track down the specific problem driver, you’ll need to run Driver Verifier, an application included with Windows.

  1. Click Start
  2. Type verifier in the box and press Enter
  3. Select Create Standard Settings, then click Next, then select Automatically Select all Drivers Installed on this Computer
  4. Click Next, then Finish
  5. Reboot your computer, and you will see the list of drivers to be verified during startup. If there is a faulty driver you will get a BSOD with its respective error message
  6. You can then identify the driver listed and uninstall it when you log back into Windows

  7. When you have determined the faulty driver, log back into Windows and you can uninstall the driver via the Device Manager (see below)
  8. Next, you will want to disable the Driver Verification so it doesn’t always check on startup.

  9. Click Start and type verifier /reset

To disable a driver once you’ve identified it:

  1. Restart your PC in Safe Mode in order to avoid any further Blue Screens of Death while you’re trying to take care of the problem
  2. Click Start
  3. Click Control Panel
  4. Click Device Manager
  5. Click the arrow next to individual devices, right click on the device, and click Properties
  6. click Details to see the driver name. If you see any devices with a yellow exclamation mark, you’re on the right track, but this will not necessarily be the case
  7. Additionally, try doing a CTRL + F on the Windows desktop for the driver name to see what folder it’s in; this will provide a clue as to what device the driver belongs to
  8. Once you find the offending driver, click Uninstall from that same Properties screen
  9. Windows will attempt to reinstall the driver itself from information it provides from the Internet. This is called Plug and Play. Allow it to do so
  10. Run Driver Reviver to update the new driver to the most recent version


Run Driver Reviver

Alternatively, run Driver Reviver first, and see if updating your drivers to the latest version takes care of the problem.


Faulty Windows Service

Sometimes, this error will occur when a backup utility or antivirus scanner makes changes to Windows that it doesn’t like. If you’ve installed and run such an app lately, you’re going to want to reboot in Safe Mode and uninstall it. If that doesn’t work, restore to a Restore Point that’s just before you installed said app, and use a different app instead. We’ve got recommendations for reputable backup utilities as well as antivirus scanners.

Running Windows Restore will remove all traces of the application.


More Information from Microsoft

Here’s a page on Microsoft’s website about this specific BSoD error. It’s pretty technical, but worth checking out if the above solutions don’t work.

Good luck!

Steve Horton

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