A blue screen of death (BSOD) is the worst nightmare of casual and experienced users of Microsoft Windows alike. Blue screens essentially render the system unusable and even deny access to the desktop for troubleshooting purposes. There are dozens of Windows errors that can result in a BSOD. You can easily find help guides on most of the common ones on the internet.

However, the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL error is a different kettle of fish. This error is also known as the BSOD or STOP 0x00000008 error. This error rarely appears, which is why it is relatively unknown to the bug-fixing community.

Recently, some Windows users have complained of getting this error, especially on Windows 10. This error can affect Windows 8.1 and 7 users as well because it is a hardware-related issue.

If your online scouting for a way to resolve this error brought you here, you won’t be disappointed. This guide contains several solutions that can help you eliminate the blue screen and regain control of your PC.

What Does IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL Mean?

Usually, each STOP error has an error code name. In this case, the STOP 0x00000008 error has the following bug report description: IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL. The STOP 0x00000008 error is often abbreviated to STOP 0x8, and this is what we will use going forward.

But what is the precise meaning of the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL error message? Since the error is so infrequent, there is relatively little information available in the public domain right now. It is projected that more will be available the longer bug technicians have to deal with this error.

What is known is that IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL relates to hardware issues on the system. This isn’t surprising: all STOP errors are generally caused by hardware or driver problems. The STOP 0x8 message indicates that your PC has encountered a fatal error during runtime.

What Is the 0x00000008 Blue Screen Error on Windows 10?

STOP 0x8 is a rare error on computers running Windows. It signifies that hardware or software issues have forced the computer to suffer a fatal shutdown. A Stop error basically prevents the system from working. It literally makes the PC stop whatever it is doing and experience a fatal breakdown.

If your PC suddenly shuts itself down and reboots into a blue screen with the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL message, it means the STOP 0x8 error has occurred. You can get this bug if there is a problem with the NT File System (NTFS). Users who encounter the error will get this message on the blue screen:

A problem with your computer has been detected and Windows has shut down to prevent damage to your computer

IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL, Error code 0x00000008.

This is by no means the only message associated with the 0x8 BSOD error. Other users reported getting this much longer error message on their blue screens:

IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL

If this is the first time you’ve seen this error screen, restart your computer. If this screen appears again, follow these steps:

Check to make sure any new hardware or software is properly installed. If this is a new installation, ask your hardware or software manufacturer for any Windows updates you might need.

If problems continue, disable or remove any newly installed hardware. Disable BIOS memory options such as caching or shadowing. If you need to use Safe Mode to disable or remove components, restart your computer, press F8 to select Advanced Startup Options, and then select Safe Mode.

….

Suffice it to say that the latter error message gives us several ideas of what to do when the BSOD pops up out of nowhere. We will explain these and several other methods of dealing with the 0x8 BSOD error in the next section.

How to Resolve the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL Error

When a blue screen appears on your system, it is a great inconvenience. Sometimes, you’re able to boot to the desktop from a blue screen, which is great. Other times, even if you do, the PC will randomly reboot back into the BSOD after a few minutes. This happens with the 0x00000008 error and is very annoying.

If you follow the steps of the solutions below, you will have a very good chance of solving this error for good.

Note: Using some of the fixes in this guide requires you to be able to access the desktop. If your PC remains stuck on the BSOD even after multiple restarts, you can attempt to access the desktop through Safe Mode.

There are two main ways to boot into Safe Mode from a PC stuck on a blue screen: via the Advanced Options screen and through installation media.

  • Boot into Safe Mode with Advanced Options

This method involves starting your PC a few times until Windows boots into the automatic repair environment. Here are the steps:

  1. If your PC is currently stuck on the blue screen, press and hold the power button to shut it down.
  2. Press the power button to turn the PC on. When it reboots into the blue screen, hold down the power button to shut it down again. Repeat the steps until you see the “Starting automatic repair” message.
  3. Windows will boot into the “Choose an option” screen.
  4. Navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings and click Restart.
  5. On the Startup Settings screen, you have the option to press 4 to enable Safe Mode or 5 to enable Safe Mode with Networking. You should go with 5.
  • Boot into Safe Mode with Recovery Media

If Windows cannot boot into the recovery environment with the method above, you can use bootable installation media to achieve the same result. Here’s how:

  1. To create bootable Windows 10 media, download the Windows 10 ISO file from the Microsoft Windows download page. We recommend you download the same version of Windows installed on your PC. However, if a newer version is available, you can use that instead.
  2. Use the Windows Media Creation Tool or third-party software like Rufus to create a bootable USB drive with the downloaded ISO.
  3. Plug the USB flash drive into your computer and boot from it. You may need to enter your BIOS and select the USB drive as the first boot device.
  4. After booting with the USB drive, you will get to the Windows Setup screen. Click the “Repair your computer” link on the bottom left. The PC will reboot into Windows Recovery.
  5. Navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings and click Restart.
  6. On the Startup Settings screen, you have the option to press 4 to enable Safe Mode or 5 to enable Safe Mode with Networking. You should go with 5.

Now that you know how to boot into Safe Mode when a BSOD renders booting to the desktop impossible, you’re all set to utilize the fixes for the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL error.

  • Fix 1: Run the Online BSOD Troubleshooter

This method is suitable for Windows 10 users who can boot into Safe Mode with Networking or who can still boot into Windows after getting the error.

Microsoft has an online blue screen troubleshooter to guide novices and casual users that may not want to deal with the bug by themselves. It offers a simple step-by-step process to identify what happened and select a solution.

Here’s how to use the online BSOD troubleshooter from Microsoft:

  1. Open a browser and visit this page to get started.
  2. You have to respond correctly to the following question: “When did you get the blue screen error?”

While upgrading to Windows 10. Choosing this option will prompt the troubleshooter to recommend going back to your previous version of Windows.

After an update was installed. Choosing this option will make the troubleshooter recommend that you remove the recently installed updates.

While using my device. If you choose this option, the troubleshooter will recommend you uninstall third-party software, roll back, uninstall or disable drivers, and disconnect non-essential PC peripherals.

Note: If you can access the desktop on a PC running Windows 10 < version 1809, you can also use the inbuilt Blue Screen Troubleshooter to fix the error:

  1. Navigate to Settings >Update & Security > Troubleshoot.
  2. On the right pane, click Blue Screen, and then click “Run the troubleshooter”.

Hopefully, this method works for you.

  • Fix 2: Unplug Connected Devices

If you’re using a laptop, you may have some external devices connected. These may be speakers, a mouse, a keyboard, headphones, game controllers, printers, etc.

The truth is that the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL error can be caused by a malfunction in one or more external devices. A device’s driver can malfunction and cause the system to derail completely. Removing external devices negates the need for their respective drivers.

Try unplugging every connected device (and turning off those connected via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) and see what happens. After you disconnect every non-essential device, restart the computer and check if it boots normally.

If the issue is resolved, you may need to update the driver for your external device to safely continue using it with your PC.

  • Fix 3: Scan the Hard Drive with CHKDSK

Check Disk is a Windows utility that checks the main internal storage and file system. It is a useful tool to solve errors ranging from file corruption to blue screens. This utility can run by itself and detect bad clusters, lost sectors, file system errors, and other maladies of the internal storage on a computer.

If you can briefly access your desktop between episodes of random shutdowns caused by the 0x8 BSOD, you can quickly do a scan with the CHKDSK utility:

  1. On your desktop, either click the File Explorer icon on the taskbar or press Win Key+E to open File Explorer.
  2. Click This PC in the lower column on the left pane.
  3. You should see your drives in the central pane. Right-click the main internal storage and select Properties.
  4. Click the Tools tab.
  5. In the “Error checking” group, click the Check Now button.
  6. When the CHKDSK dialog pops up, choose one or both of the two options and click Scan:
    1. Automatically fix file system errors
    2. Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors

Note: In Windows 10, the Check Now button has been replaced by the Check button and the two options in the dialog by a single “Scan drive” option.

If you’re stuck on the blue screen and can’t reboot into Windows and Safe Mode doesn’t work, you can still run the CHKDSK scan using Command Prompt from Windows Recovery:

  1. From the “Choose an option” screen, navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.
  2. In the cmd window, type the following command and press Enter:

chkdsk c: /f /r

With this command, the Check Disk utility will scan your hard drive for errors and attempt to repair bad sectors and fix corrupt files.

If CHKDSK doesn’t find any errors or if the scan doesn’t resolve the issue, try the next fix.

  • Fix 4: Identify and Remove Junk Files with Disk Cleanup

An overtaxed hard drive has been known to cause the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL error in Windows 10 and other OS versions. If your hard drive is up to 80 percent full, doing some spring cleaning can help to resolve the problem. It can also prevent the error from happening again.

However, this method is only useful if you can get access to the desktop either normally or via Safe Mode. Still, after solving the issue through other means, you can reduce the amount of data on your hard drive so that there will be less chance of a recurrence.

First, check how much space you have left on your hard drive. Open File Explorer, click This PC, and check the amount of space left on your hard drive. If it is almost full, you should try freeing up some space.

Here are some ways you can lessen the amount of data on your main storage:

Delete unwanted pre-installed applications and unused third-party apps

  1. In Windows 10, click the Start menu and select Settings.
  2. Navigate to System > Apps & Features.
  3. In the central pane on the right, select the app you wish to uninstall and click Uninstall.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for every unwanted preinstalled and user application.

Some applications installed by the user won’t show up here. You need to go to the Control Panel to uninstall them.

  1. Type “cmd” into the Start menu and press Enter.
  2. Select Category from the “View by” options at the top right of the Control Panel window.
  3. Click the “Uninstall a program” link under Programs.
  4. On the next screen, right-click the app you want to remove and select Uninstall. Follow the on-screen instructions to remove the program.
  5. Repeat Step 8 for every unwanted application and program.

Use Storage Sense to identify junk files and remove them

Storage Sense identifies and groups files it thinks you might no longer need and displays how much space they occupy. You can use the nifty Windows 10 utility to quickly remove temporary files:

  1. Press the Windows key and select Settings.
  2. Navigate to System > Storage and select your main drive to see what is taking up so much space.
  3. Peruse the items to see where you can free up hard disk space. Click on an item to reveal an option to delete associated files.
  4. When you’re done, close the Settings window.

Use Disk Cleanup to delete all types of junk files

The Disk Cleanup utility in Windows finds all types of junk files and gathers them in one window for easy selection and deletion. You can use the utility to quickly remove different types of unneeded files, including the following:

Downloaded program files

Temporary Internet files

Offline web pages

Recycle Bin

Temporary files

Delivery Optimization files

DirectX Shades Cache

Thumbnails

Windows Update Cleanup

Windows Error Reporting files

Zune temporary converted files

Here’s how to use Disk Cleanup:

  1. Run Search and type “Disk Cleanup”. Click Enter.
  2. In the DISK Cleanup — Drive Selection window, select your drive and click OK. If you have multiple drives, you can only select one at a time.
  3. Under “Files to delete”, tick the boxes beside the items whose associated files you wish to get rid of. Select any item to view a short description. If you want to view the individual files linked to a file, select the file and click the View Files button.
  4. When you’ve made your selections, click “Clean up system files” to proceed.
  5. When the confirmation prompt shows up, click Delete Files.

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Of course, you can also take the initiative to delete large user files such as media files, photo galleries and album files you don’t need. Don’t forget to also clear the Recycle Bin periodically.

If you combine these methods, you’ll be sure to get the amount of used space on your hard drive down to a respectable level. This can help you solve errors like the 0x8 BSOD.

  • Fix 5: Update Windows

If you can access the Settings application during the periods between annoying BSOD shutdowns due to the 0x8 error, check for and install any available Windows updates. Microsoft has been known to release patches and bug fixes that help with solving some issues.

Here is what you should do:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Navigate to Update & Security > Windows Update.
  3. Click the “Check for updates” button. If updates are already available, simply click the Download button beside each update.
  4. Install all the updates immediately and reboot the machine.

If this doesn’t help with your BSOD issue, you will likely have better luck with the next fix.

  • Fix 6: Update Device Drivers

Microsoft pegs the percentage of blue screen errors due to third-party drivers at 70. This means that every seven times out of 10 when your PC randomly reboots into a blue screen with or without an error code, a malfunctioning third-party driver is the cause of the issue.

If several external devices are simultaneously connected to your PC, a driver for one of them could malfunction, leading to the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL error. It is also possible for device drivers to come into conflict when they’re in use at the same time, causing the system to shut down.

Moreover, incompatible drivers are sure to lead to errors sooner or later. And so are outdated drivers that are less optimized for the current OS.

The solution to these types of problems is to update all your drivers. This is better than updating a single driver because this error doesn’t specify which particular hardware driver is the culprit.

If you have the time and stamina to manually update your main drivers, you can use Device Manager in normal mode or Safe Mode with Networking:

  1. Right-click the Start menu and select Device Manager. You will find all your PC components and their drivers there.
  2. Double-click an item to reveal the associated devices.
  3. Right-click a device and select Update Driver.
  4. In the next window, choose the “Search automatically for updated driver software” option.

You’ve done your bit. Windows will do its. It will look for and install the latest driver for the device — if it can find one.

Repeat the steps for every piece of hardware listed in Device Manager. We need not tell you that doing so is a tall order, not to mention inefficient and unnecessary: there is a much better way.

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Auslogics Driver Updater’s scan will highlight any incompatible, missing, faulty, or outdated drivers that need updating. With a premium license, you can simply click the “Update all” button to install every available update for all your drivers immediately.

Here is how to use Auslogics Driver Updater:

  1. Visit the Auslogics Driver Updater download page.
  2. Click the downloaded setup file, choose your preferences, and click the Install button.
  3. When the installation is complete, click the button to commence a scan.
  4. The software will show you your device drivers (including drivers for connected devices) and those that need updating.
  5. Click the Update button next to a device driver to update it or click the “Update all” button to install updates for all obsolete device drivers.

Reboot your system when the process is complete and you should be able to use your PC normally.

The obvious advantage of this method is that it saves precious time. Moreover, you don’t know when another random BSOD shutdown may show up to interrupt you. Therefore, a method that updates everything as quickly as possible is preferable.

  • Fix 7: Disable Automatic Restart

Some users claimed that disabling Automatic Restart helped them resolve the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL BSOD. You can give it a try as well:

  1. Press the Windows key and type “control panel”. Press Enter when the app appears.
  2. Choose small or large icons in “View by”.
  3. Navigate to System > Advanced System Settings.
  4. In the System Properties dialog, switch to the Advanced tab.
  5. In the Startup and Recovery section, click Settings.
  6. In the new pop-up dialog, scroll down to the System Failure section and uncheck the “Automatically restart” checkbox.
  7. Click OK and close all windows.
  • Fix 8: Use a System Restore Point

If you remember at which point the IRQL_NOT_DISPATCH_LEVEL error started showing up, you’re in luck — provided you have a system restore point created already. If none of the solutions so far have worked for you, you can simply return your computer to the state it was in before the error started happening. Here are the instructions to follow:

  1. Hold down the Windows key and press R.
  2. Type “rstrui” into the Run box and click OK.
  3. When the System Restore dialog shows up, click “Choose a different restore point” (if that option is available) and click Next. Otherwise, click “Recommended restore” and click Next.

Note: Only choose “Recommended restore” if the restore point Windows chooses predates the error you’re facing on your PC.

  1. In the next window, tick the “Show more restore points” checkbox.
  2. Choose a restore point created before the error started happening and click Next.
  3. Click Finish to commence the system restoration.

If the 0x8 error is related to driver issues and you choose the correct restore point, this fix will almost certainly resolve your problem. You may have to reinstall some drivers and a few programs after the reversal is complete.

  • Fix 9: Reinstall the OS

This is the solution of last resort for fixing the error 0x00000008. If nothing else works, you may have to do a clean Windows 10 install using a bootable USB drive with the latest version of Windows 10 on it.

You can also attempt a factory reset or PC refresh if these options are available in Windows Recovery.

We hope these solutions have explained how to remove the 0x00000008 BSOD. You can check out help guides about related BSOD errors for additional fixes.