The computer shut down and then restarted and I re logged in and everything seems to be fine. I’m not sure how to interpret the error message and am not sure where the “collected data” went. Would like your advice on what to do next – do I pursue the MEMORY_MANAGEMENT topic or ignore the event or something else?
In short: back up regularly (you’re doing that already, right? 🙂 ), and carry on like nothing happened.
Until, or unless, it starts happening more often. Then things get complicated.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
A blue screen (the “BSOD” or “Blue Screen of Death”, or occasionally “bluescreen”) is Windows’ “last ditch” approach to error reporting. Something has gone so wrong that Windows can’t make any assumptions at all about how to safely recover, so it doesn’t even try. All it can do is halt your system completely. A blue screen error is the last resort, and it happens only when trying to carry on might actually cause more damage.
The blue screen presents some information. Unfortunately, that information, from the simple “MEMORY_MANAGEMENT” that you’re seeing in recent versions of Windows, to the screen full of indecipherable numbers common in earlier versions, isn’t really intended to be particularly useful for average computer users. Heck, it’s not particularly useful for most geeks!1
Your only recourse is to reboot.
One-off blue screens
Blue screens certainly don’t happen as often as they used to, but they still do happen occasionally.
If a blue screen happens only once, typically there’s nothing really to worry about. Yes, it’s annoying, and hopefully there won’t be any negative repercussions, such as data loss. But the bottom line is that every so often, it is still possible to get a blue screen without really knowing why, or without really needing to take any action.
The important point here is that this should be very rare.
Repeating blue screens
If blue screen errors start to happen more frequently, it’s a sign of some kind of a problem. Unfortunately, exactly what problem is almost impossible to determine from just the blue screen information itself. We have to start looking at other things and making educated guesses about exactly what may or may not be happening.
Repeating blue screens can happen for either of two very distinct reasons: hardware failure or software problems.
Hardware changes. If you’ve added or replaced hardware on your computer recently, that’s one of the first places to look. Sometimes the solution is as simple as replacing the hardware, or at least temporarily removing it to see if the problem goes away.
Driver updates. Since any hardware change on a computer typically involves a software change in the form of updated or additional drivers, we also have to be concerned that perhaps the drivers themselves are at fault. Thus, the next step is to make sure you are running the most current drivers for any hardware on your system, particularly any hardware that was added or changed recently.
Other software updates. Another go-to diagnostic step is, in fact, to make sure that your system is up-to-date. Occasionally, blue screens are the result of software bugs or errors that may be fixed by subsequent updates.
Overheating. When the blue screen errors you see are somewhat frequent – perhaps happening when you do something specific, like playing a processor-intensive game – overheating is one thing to consider. Not only is overheating a relatively common cause of computer crashes, often those crashes will manifest as blue screen errors.
Failing disks. Hardware that is beginning to fail, particularly hard disks, can manifest as a system that crashes in the form of a blue screen. Thus, another good diagnostic step to take is to run CHKDSK /R on the hard disks on your system. This will actually scan the surface area of the disc for physical defects and attempt to repair them. Physical defects on the hard disk surface can cause misreads of data, so that a program could be loaded incorrectly, causing the instructions to the computer to become garbled. This, as you might guess, can result in a blue screen.
Failing RAM. Since RAM contains the instructions that the computer executes, faulty RAM can cause those instructions to become garbled, causing a blue screen. Running a memory test on your system is a good idea.
Malware. This typically isn’t the first thing I think of when a computer starts displaying blue-screen errors, but malware – specifically, bugs in malware – has been known to manifest as blue screens. Make sure to run up-to-date anti-malware scans.
About the information you have
You may notice that I have not referenced the error code or error message that you saw in your blue screen. The information “MEMORY_MANAGEMENT” is not very helpful. All it really tells us is that there was a problem managing memory on your system. Unfortunately, that could still be the result of any of the causes I listed above:
- Bad RAM (memory)
- Faulty software
- Faulty hardware
- Bad sectors on a hard disk
- And much, much more.
As you can see, the fact that the error refers to memory doesn’t help narrow down the source of the problem. It could be memory, but of course it could still be something else entirely.
On rare occasions, googling the actual information from a blue screen can get you information that relates to your problem. Unfortunately once again, this varies dramatically, depending on the specific problem that you’re having.
In most cases, however, we’re stuck with the trial and error form of diagnosis.