Screens of Death You Should Know: Purple, Brown, Yellow, Red, Green

Most Windows users have at least once seen the “Blue Screen of Death” (BSoD), but only a few know about other, less popular, screens of death – marked with red, green, brown, purple, and yellow colors. Not always, there is a simple explanation, why these errors occur.

Sometimes we can only judge by known common factors, for example, unstable or unofficial drivers may cause many problems and alter system settings. Color-coding of errors is very helpful for computer experts and support personnel as it allows them to tell how bad it is in just one glance. In most cases, the system also duplicates BSoD messages as catastrophic failures as they usually “break” working sessions without saving. Today we are going to talk about the most infamous screens of death known to Windows users.

Purple Screen of Death (PSOD)

It is a diagnostics screen with white text on a purple background. PSOD usually occurs when VMkernel (ESX / ESXi host) gets a critical error, becomes unusable, and stops all virtual machines. It is not a catastrophic failure, and in most cases, it can be easily fixed without any consequences. Just press and hold the power button on your laptop or PC, to turn it off. Unplug the power cord; also disconnect external devices such as a mouse, keyboard, printer, additional monitors, headphones, and webcams. It is also a good idea to clean the heatsink of your device since PSOD usually provoked by GPU malfunctions caused by overheating. It is not a “repeatable” error, so the next time you boot, you won’t see the purple screen of death.

Brown screen of death

Brown screen of death belongs to the “gaming” category of errors. It indicates that something is wrong with the graphics. All CPUs have their working limits and set clock rates. But gamers don’t pay attention to system requirements when trying out new “heavy” games. It is possible to run new games on older computers, but GPU and CPU are loaded up to 100%, which is not good for their health at all. It may result in system failure, as Windows will try to prevent data damage or major data loss. Here are the most common causes of the brown screen of death:

  • Unstable, old, or corrupted video card drivers.
  • Overclocked GPU and CPU.
  • The software is conflicting with drivers.
  • Overheating.
  • Inadequate voltage for current tasks.

Yellow screen of death

This screen occurs after an ASP.NET web application crashes after an unexpected error. The ASP.NET open source web application framework used for building dynamic web pages. It occurs when you are browsing, and an XML parser cannot handle an XML document, which results in a syntax analysis error complemented by a strange buzzing sound. Sometimes it is enough to do a simple reboot to fix the problem. But in some cases, you need to do more. If the yellow screen of death is still there after a restart, try these methods:

  • Update drivers.
  • Uninstall your video card drivers, then install them back.
  • Boot in safe mode for testing (if everything is ok in Safe mode, it would mean that basic drivers and OS default settings have nothing to do with the issue).
  • Perform a clean boot (it helps to minimize possible software-related conflicts within the system caused services and apps that start up and work in the background when Windows starts normally).
  • Perform Automatic Repair (requires a bootable media or a disc with Windows ISO image).

Red screen of death

RSoD is probably the rarest of the screens of death. When you get, you will have to restart your computer manually as no signals from your mouse or keyboard will reach the system. Usually, RSoD is provoked by hardware errors on overclocked computers. In addition to that, the problem can be caused by graphics card drivers and their installers as well as by other software. Here are a few useful tips on how to deal with the red screen of death:

  • Update BIOS/UEFI.
  • Remove overclocking.
  • Remove the newly installed software (it might be the cause of the problem).
  • Check your hardware for errors using Event Viewer (it is a standard Windows tool, use search in the Start menu to find it).

Green screen of death

Initially, the green screen of death was added to the system for testing purposes and for stepping away from the archaic blue screen of death. The purpose of the color change was simple: to make it easier for Microsoft support to distinguish errors in test builds and production processes. However, GSoD is known to be in the Windows 10 build 14997, for example. Anyhow, it is still bad news since it is a fatal error. This is how you can fix the green screen of death in Windows:

  • Unplug all external devices except keyboard and mouse. Peripherals sometimes may trigger GSoD. It sounds trivial and too simple, but it might work.
  • Update drivers (if GSoD does not allow you to boot Windows, restart your computer manually a few time to trigger Automatic Repair and get access to booting in Safe Mode. When Automatic Repair activates, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System Startup and click the Restart button. When prompted, select the “Safe Mode with Networking” option).
  • Uninstall all third-party antiviruses and anti-malware tools (they might have conflicts with Windows that result in GSoD).
  • Repair Windows using a bootable media or DVD with Windows ISO image.