Fix Red Screen on Windows 10

9 minute read

If you’re a Windows 10 user, you are probably familiar with Blue Screen of Death, but some users have reported red screen on Windows 10. After red screen shows, you won’t be able to do anything, and you’ll be forced to manually restart your computer. What is the cause of red screen and how to fix it?

In most cases, a red screen on Windows 10 is caused by a hardware error, especially if you overclock your computer. Sometimes red screen can be caused by incompatible drivers or BIOS issues, so let’s see how to fix that.

Red Screen On Windows 10, How To Fix It?

Red screen is an unusual problem that can occur on Windows 10. Speaking of red screen issues, users reported the following problems as well:

  • Windows 10 red screen startup – According to users, sometimes red screen can appear right on system startup. This issue might be caused by third-party software or by outdated drivers.
  • Blank red screen Windows 10 – In some cases, you might encounter a blank red screen on Windows 10. This is most likely caused by overclocking, so be sure to remove all overclock settings.
  • Windows 10 red screen loading – Sometimes your PC can get stuck while loading on a red screen. This is an unusual problem, but you might be able to fix it using one of our solutions.
  • Red screen on laptop – This problem can appear on desktop PCs as well as laptops. If you have this issue on your laptop, the problem might be with your graphics card.
  • Red screen Windows 10 with cursor, audio – Sometimes you might get a red screen on Windows with your cursor and audio still working. This is most likely caused by your graphics card or your drivers.
  • Red screen Windows 10 explorer.exe, Excel – According to users, this issue can appear while using Windows Explorer or Excel. To fix the problem, you might want to try reinstalling your graphics card drivers or the problematic applications.
  • Red screen Windows 10 two monitors – This problem can occur while using a dual monitor setup. If this happens, the cause is most likely your configuration or a graphics card driver.
  • Red screen Windows 10 just flashes – If the red screen keeps flashing on your Windows PC, the problem might be caused by your overclock settings. In some cases, the issue might be faulty hardware.
  • Red screen Windows 10 Nvidia – This problem can appear while using Nvidia graphics. If you have this issue, be sure to remove overclock settings and update your drivers.

Solution 1 – Remove overclock settings

In order to get the best performance out of their hardware, users often overclock their CPU or GPU. Overclocking means changing the hardware clock rate, multiplier, or voltage. Although this gives you increased performance, it also increases the heat that your CPU or GPU produces. Due to increased heat, your CPU or GPU might become unstable, or in worst case scenario you can permanently damage your hardware if you’re not careful.

As you can see, overclocking isn’t for basic users, and if you’re getting a red screen on Windows 10, you might want to remove any overclocking settings. Removing overclocking settings is usually done through BIOS, and it’s different for each type of BIOS. If you haven’t overclocked your CPU or GPU, you can skip this solution.


Solution 2 – Update your BIOS / UEFI

Sometimes red screen on Windows 10 might be caused by your BIOS / UEFI, and in order to fix it, you need to update your BIOS / UEFI. Updating BIOS / UEFI isn’t a procedure intended for basic users, and if you don’t do it properly, you can cause permanent damage to your computer.

In order to update your BIOS / UEFI, you need to visit your motherboard manufacturer’s website and download the latest version of BIOS / UEFI. Most motherboard manufacturers have instructions on their website on how to update BIOS, so if you’re planning to update your BIOS / UEFI, make sure that you read those instructions first in order to avoid any unnecessary damage. If you don’t know how to update BIOS properly, please contact an expert and ask him to do it for you.


Solution 3 – Check for hardware malfunctions

Sometimes red screen can be caused by faulty hardware, and users have reported that faulty graphic card can cause this problem. If your computer is under warranty, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take it to the repair shop to have it checked for hardware malfunctions.

Few users have reported that red screen was caused due to a faulty graphic card, and after replacing the problematic card, everything went back to normal. There are also reports that CD / DVD reader can cause this issue in some rare cases, so you might want to temporarily remove your CD / DVD reader.

If you’re still having issues with your hardware or you simply want to avoid them for the future, we strongly recommend you to download this tool (100% safe and tested by us) to fix various PC problems, such as hardware failure, but also file loss and malware.


Solution 4 – Remove softOSD software

It has been reported that softOSD.exe can cause red screen issues on Windows 10, so it’s advised that you remove softOSD software from your computer. To do that, follow these instructions:

  1. Click the Start button and choose Settings.
    Blank red screen Windows 10
  2. When Settings app opens, click on Apps.
    Windows 10 red screen loading
  3. In the left pane choose Apps & features. Find softOSD on the list, click it and then click the Uninstall button.
    Red screen on laptop
  4. If you get asked to remove sds64a.sys, just skip that step.

In addition, you can do this on alternative way:

  1. In the Search bar type Control Panel and choose Control Panel from the list of results.
    Red screen Windows 10 with audio
  2. Choose Uninstall a program.
    Red screen Windows 10 Excel
  3. List of installed programs will appear. Find softOSD and double click it.
    Red screen Windows 10 two monitors
  4. You might get asked to remove sds64a.sys, and if that happens, just skip that step.

Sometimes in order to fix this problem you need to remove all files associated with softOSD. The fastest and the most effective way to do that is to use an uninstaller application. If you need an uninstaller app, we strongly recommend you to try IObit Uninstaller or Revo Uninstaller.


Solution 5 – Install the default graphic card driver / update your graphic card driver

It has been reported that switching back to default graphic card driver on HP laptops fixes the red screen issues on Windows 10, but we assume that reverting to default graphic card driver will work for other non HP devices as well.

To return to the default graphic card driver just follow these steps:

  1. In the Search bar type Device Manager and select Device Manager from the list of results.
    Red screen Windows 10 just flashes
  2. Find Display adapters section and expand it. Right click your device in the Display adapters section and choose Uninstall from the list.
    Red screen Windows 10 Nvidia
  3. Check Delete the driver software for this device and click on Uninstall.
    Windows 10 red screen startup
  4. After the current driver has been removed, restart your computer.

In addition, you might want to update your graphics card drivers. If you use a desktop PC, go to your graphics card manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers for your graphics card. If you use a laptop, go to your laptop manufacturer’s website, find your laptop model, and download latest drivers for it.

Update drivers automatically

In order to prevent PC damage by installing the wrong driver versions,  we suggest to do it automatically by using Tweakbit’s Driver Updater tool.

This tool is approved by Microsoft and Norton Antivirus. After several tests, our team concluded that this is the best-automatized solution. Below you can find a quick guide how to do it.

    1. Download and install TweakBit Driver Updaterdriver updater starting window
    2. Once installed, the program will start scanning your PC for outdated drivers automatically. Driver Updater will check your installed driver versions against its cloud database of the latest versions and recommend proper updates. All you need to do is wait for the scan to complete.
      Automatically update drivers
    3. Upon scan completion, you get a report on all problem drivers found on your PC. Review the list and see if you want to update each driver individually or all at once. To update one driver at a time, click the ‘Update driver’ link next to the driver name. Or simply click the ‘Update all’ button at the bottom to automatically install all recommended updates.
      Automatically Update complete
      Note: Some drivers need to be installed in multiple steps so you will have to hit the ‘Update’ button several times until all of its components are installed.

Disclaimer: some features of this tool are not free.


Solution 6 – Reinstall AMD drivers without Catalyst Control Center

Some users have reported red screen while playing Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, so if you own AMD card, you might want to try and install AMD drivers without Catalyst Control Center.

  1. Remove your currently installed graphic card driver like we showed you in Solution 5. In addition, you can use software such as Display Driver Uninstaller to uninstall your drivers.
  2. Download the latest AMD drivers.
  3. Run the setup and extract files to a specific folder on your computer. Remember where you extract these files, because you’ll need them later. If the setup automatically starts, cancel it.
  4. Open Device Manager and expand Display adapters section. Find your graphic adapter and right click it. Choose Update driver.
    Windows 10 red screen startup
  5. Now choose Browse my computer for driver software.
    Blank red screen Windows 10
  6. Find the folder where AMD drivers are extracted and click Next to install the drivers. Before clicking Next, make sure that Include subfolders option is checked.
    Windows 10 red screen loading
  7. After the new drivers have been installed, restart your computer.

If the problem with the red screen still persists, do the following:

  1. Open C:\AMD\driver folder and find atikmdag.sy_ file. After you’ve found atikmdag.sy_, copy it to your Desktop.
  2. Open Command Prompt. You can open Command Prompt by pressing Windows Key + X and choosing Command Prompt from the list.
    Red screen on laptop
  3. In Command Prompt, change your current folder to Desktop. You can do that by typing the following line and pressing Enter on your keyboard:
    • chdir Desktop
      Red screen Windows 10 with cursor
      or
    • chdir C:\users\your account\desktop
  4. Now type the following and press Enter to run it:
    • EXPAND.EXE atikmdag.sy_ atikmdag.sys
      Red screen Windows 10 explorer.exe
      or
    • expand -r atikmdag.sy_ atikmdag.sysRed screen Windows 10 two monitors
  5. Go to C:\Windows\System32\Drivers and find atikmdag.sys. Rename the file to atikmdag.sys.old.
  6. Now move the atikmdag.sys file from your Desktop to C:\Windows\System32\Drivers folder.
  7. Restart your computer.

Solution 7 – Change settings.ini file

Users report that red screen affects Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and in order to fix this issue, you need to change the game’s settings.ini file. To do that, follow these instructions:

  1. Open Documents > BFBC2 folder, and find settings.ini file.
  2. Find the following line:
    • DxVersion=auto
      and change it to:
    • DxVersion=9
  3. Save the changes, and try to run the game again.

Solution 8 – Underclock your graphic card

Sometimes underclocking your device can fix the red screen issues on Windows 10. Few users have reported that lowering the original takt rate on AMD 7870X graphic card has fixed the red screen issues for them. Once again, if you don’t know how to underclock your graphic card, ask a professional to do it for you.


Solution 9 – Update your graphic card BIOS

Some users suggest that updating your motherboard BIOS and graphic card BIOS can fix red screen issues that you have with certain games, such as Battlefield 4. We have to point out that updating graphic card BIOS isn’t for basic users, and if you decide to update your graphic card BIOS, you’re doing it at your own risk. We recommend this third-party tool (100% safe and tested by us) to automatically download all the outdated drivers on your PC.

Disclaimer: some functions of this tool are not free.

Red screen issues in Windows 10 can be quite serious, and in most cases, these issues are related to your hardware, so while fixing this problem on Windows 10, be careful in order to avoid any potential damage.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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