Fix: IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL stop code [7 Tested Solutions]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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All Windows users at some point have had problems with a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) caused by incompatible drivers or hardware malfunctions, and Windows 10 users have not seen the end of it.

If you recall, we’ve previously talked about how you can fix the DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION error, but some Windows 10 users have reported that they have been encountering the irql_not_less_or_equal 0x0000000a.

In this guide, we will try to shed some light on how to fix this issue. As we’ve gotten used to by now, there are many causes and just as many solutions for these kinds of Windows errors.

We’ve even seen a similar irql_not_less_or_equal error in the form of the ntoskrnl.exe, which was most likely caused by Realtek HiDefinition Audio drivers.

Here are some of the most common situations where this error occurs:

  • irql_not_less_or_equal ntoskrnl.exe

As a quick reminder, this executable file is the kernel (core) of the operating system and usually indicates that the issue is pretty severe.

  • irql_not_less_or_equal overclock

Many gamers confirmed that they often experienced this error after overclocking their computers. As a result, disabling overclocking may fix this error.

  • irql_not_less_or_equal cpu overheating

If your CPU is overwhelmed, it overheats and that may actually cause this error. As stated above, do disable overclocking to reduce overheating.

Check if there are any particular apps and programs that are putting a strain on your PC and disable them as soon as possible. Using a dedicated cooling software and a cooling pad may also reduce the frequency of this issue.

  • irql_not_less_or_equal after RAM upgrade

Some users reported that this BSOD error occured shortly after they upgraded their RAM. Make sure that the new RAM is compatible with your device and that it’s properly installed.

  • irql_not_less_or_equal after Windows update

In rare cases, this error may occur after installing the latest Windows updates. As a result, uninstall the updates and check if the issue persists.

  • irql_not_less_or_equal and memory_management

Sometimes, these two BSOD errors go hand in hand. Users reported that when the first error occurs, the second one follows it after reboot.

We have a dedicated troubleshooting guide on how to fix MEMORY_MANAGEMENT errors on Windows 10. Do follow the instructions available in that guide as they may help you solve the problem. Usually an irql not less or equal  Windows 10 install error occurs after performing a Windows update. The usual culprit is one of the RAM modules but the update process might have met an error that caused this.

If you have already ruled out that driver as the cause of the error, then this guide will explore some additional causes which might return this BSOD.

We’ll start by looking at a few quick fixes which might fix the irql_not_less_or_equal error and then move on to more advanced options. But before that, let’s look at some of the reasons why this error occurs.

Like most other Windows errors, incompatible or badly installed drivers can be the cause, but at the same time, faulty hardware (in this case RAM or peripherals) or even a Windows upgrade can be blamed.

When a device driver or kernel process would try to access a memory location which it isn’t authorized to have access to, the operating system will issue an error, and the same is true if a piece of software is corrupted and tries to access wrong memory addresses.

This is the short version of what is happening when you see a irql_not_less_or_equal error. Now let’s move on to fixing the problem.

How can I fix irql_not_less_or_equal BSOD error (0x0000000A)?

  1. Start your computer in Safe Mode
  2. Check your Memory and Hardware
  3. Refresh or Restore
  4. Repair your registry to fix corrupted files
  5. Check your disk for errors
  6. Run a full system scan
  7. Perform a clean Windows install

Like we mentioned before, there are lots of causes and therefore, different solutions for this problem. We’ll try to cover all basis and troubleshoot each cause individually, so you can apply the fix which best suits your needs.

Before we begin, like with all Windows errors, verify that you have installed all updates and have up-to-date drivers installed for all your devices.

The majority of Windows 10 users have outdated drivers? Be a step ahead using this guide.

Run a System Update which will apply all the new patches for your operating system and look for the latest drivers of your components and peripherals (visit the manufacturer’s website to see which is the latest driver for each device).

If you’re having trouble updating your Windows 10, check out this guide that will help you solve them in no time.

Additionally, you can check for updates on the third party software you are using and if you have the possibility, try updating your BIOS.

Updating BIOS seems scary? Make things way easier with the help of this handy guide.

Run a System Scan to discover potential errors

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Another step to take which might help you bypass most of the troubleshooting process is to search the “Event Viewer” for information regarding the error (to open Event Viewer, open the Search charm and type “Event Viewer” and select the utility). windows 8.1 bsod event viewer

In the window which opens, search the logs for the error you’ve encountered (each log has a timestamp, which will help you determine which device caused the issue) until you find the error.

In the details, you will see where the problem originated, and you find a recurring error caused by the same device, then that was the cause.

1.  Start your computer in Safe Mode

system configuration boot menu

Windows 10 offers users the possibility to start their computer in the so-called “Safe Boot” configuration, which is the old Safe Mode we used to have in the older versions of the operating system.

By using this method, and setting it to the  “Minimal” configuration, you can start your Windows 10 computer with the bare minimum of features, drivers and processes.

This ensures that you are using a clean environment with no third party drivers and applications.

This method can have one of two outcomes: either the system will work as intended, therefore the problem must lie in one of the third party apps or drivers you have installed on your computer, or it will once again crash, telling you that the problem has a more deeper root, maybe within the hardware.

Once you have an answer to this question, you can move on and troubleshoot it by eliminating any other possibilities.

Here are the steps to follow to start your Windows 10 computer in Safe Mode:

  1. Hold down the shift key and click the on-screen power button
  2. Select the restart option while holding the shift key
  3. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > hit Restartadvanced recovery options Troubleshoot
  4. Wait until Windows 10 reboots, and select Safe Mode.
  5. Check if the problem persists.

Safe mode is not working on Windows 10? Read more about it in this guide.

2. Check your Memory and Hardware

windows 8.1 bsod memory diagnostic utility RAM check

If Step 1 has showed you that the problem is not related to the software you have installed on your computer, you can now try to debug your computer at the hardware level.

As we’ve mentioned at the beginning, the irql_not_less_or_equal error usually occurs when something tries to access a memory location which it doesn’t have permission to.

The first thing you should do in this case is to test the RAM of your device. Windows offers a utility which can do this for you.

Here’s how to use this utility:

  1. Open the Search charm > type in “Memory Diagnostic” > open the Windows Memory Diagnostic utility.
  2. In the new window which opens, select one of the two options available. The first one will restart Windows immediately and let the system scan the RAM.
  3. If it will return an error, then you have your answer. Replace the RAM of your computer and everything should be working properly.
  4. On the other hand, if the scan didn’t return any errors, then the problem resides elsewhere.

Optional: If your motherboard’s BIOS has the Memory Caching feature, then you should disable this feature. Keep in mind that operating in the BIOS environment can be dangerous, so do not attempt to modify other settings if you don’t know what they do.

Accessing BIOS seems too big of a task? Check out more in this amazing guide!

Checking the hardware is somewhat of a tedious process. You will need to unplug all connected and non-essential devices from your computer (which basically means everything except your mouse and keyboard) and then disable their drivers.

After a reboot, check to see if all the drivers are still disabled and one by one, re-enable and reconnect the devices.

Do not plug in or enable more than one device at a time! Only one at a time and use the computer and the device after you have plugged it in.

If the error does not appear, then that driver is clear and you can move on to the next one. Do this until you have either added and enabled all the devices, or until the BSOD appears.

If the latter happens, this means that the last driver enabled is the problem. Enter Safe Boot and completely uninstall the driver and try downloading the latest one from the manufacturer and install it.

If it still won’t work, then that driver has a compatibility problem with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

Optional: If the BSOD appears after a driver update, try rolling back the driver and see if the problem persists. Enter Device Manager and locate the driver in question, then right click it and select “Properties”. Under the “Driver” tab, you will find the option to roll back the driver.

Editor’s Note: This article continues on the next page with additional solutions to fix irql not less or equal errors. Bookmark our hub dedicated to fixing Windows errors just in case you need to fix other issues later on.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • The Irql_not_less_or_equal Windows 10 startup error is usually caused by a driver incompatibility or a bad Windows Service. Learn more in our article about driver IRQL less or not equal.

  • As the name suggests, it is a memory issue that can be caused by a bug in the software that allocates memory wrongly, or a RAM issue. Use the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool to identify any RAM issues.

  • The error is caused either by a damaged system file, which usually happens after a Windows update or because of a faulty RAM module. See our tested solutions to fix this error.

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