How to Fix “Page Fault in Nonpaged Area” on Windows

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Some blue screens of death (BSOD) are difficult or impossible to diagnose and repair, while others are fairly simple. Fortunately, a page fault BSOD is often fixable. Here are a few things you can try.

What causes PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA?

As your computer performs tasks, it constantly loads programs and files in and out of your computer’s random access memory, more commonly known as RAM. If your Windows PC is low on RAM, or if a program or file is idle for a long time, Windows will start moving items from RAM to your hard drive or SSD instead. These “things” are stored in the swap file.

If something is interfering with reading or writing to the page file (pagefile.sys) – or directly with your RAM itself – chances are you’ll get a blue screen of death (BSOD).

There are a handful of things that can cause the problem:

Diagnose the problem

Generally speaking, your first troubleshooting steps should always focus on anything that has recently changed on your PC. Did you just update a driver, program or Windows? Did you install new hardware? If you have, start there. Roll back the driver you updated, remove the program, or try uninstalling the latest Windows update. If you installed new hardware, remove it and see if the problem persists.

If you’re not sure what’s changed recently, you need to dig a little deeper.

When you get this BSOD it often shows what was working at the time things went wrong on the “What Failed” line.

An example of a BSOD specifying the cause of the crash.

If your BSOD shows something there, googling it first. This will probably be enough to point you in the right direction. For example, if the thing that failed returns results for NVIDIA, you should definitely start by reinstalling or rolling back your graphics drivers.

General troubleshooting

If the BSOD doesn’t give you any idea what the problem might be, and you’re not sure what’s been updated recently, the problem becomes harder to troubleshoot. Here are a few things you can try. Some of them might help you figure out what the problem is, while others might fix it.

Delete new material

If you recently installed new hardware and your computer suddenly started experiencing BSODs, you should definitely start by removing the new hardware. While you’re at it, make sure your other components are properly installed. Something may have bumped during installation.

Check Event Viewer

Event Viewer is exactly what it sounds like – it lets you view important events affecting your PC. Events are sorted into a few different categories, such as “Windows Logs” and “Applications and Services Logs”, for example. They are also sorted by severity: Information, Warning, and Error.

There’s a lot of information in Event Viewer, so it’s probably worth reading a bit about what it is and how it works before diving straight in.

In all likelihood, an error causing a BSOD will be found under Windows Logs > System.

Go to the "System" tab, and look for errors that precede the BSOD.

Check the “Details” tab. Try to limit your results to events that happened at the same time as the BSOD.

Check recently updated programs

If you have installed dedicated drivers for your CPU, GPU, sound card, network adapter, motherboard, or any other component of your computer, they will be listed in the “Apps & Features” section of the Settings app. You can use this to determine what has recently been updated, and it might shed some light on the cause of the problem.

Click the start button, type “apps and features” in the search bar, then press enter or click “open.” (You can also go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features to find this window.)

To note: The search result will be “Apps & Features”, not “Apps & Features”, but who wants to type in an ampersand (the “and” sign) unless they need to?

By default, the list of programs is sorted alphabetically, but we need to modify it so that they are sorted by installation date. Click on the “Name” label next to “Sort by” and change it to “Installation date”.

If you spot any drivers that have been updated since you noticed the BSODs starting up, try installing an older version or reinstalling the current one.

Disable your antivirus

Even the best antivirus software sometimes makes mistakes. It’s not likely, but it’s possible that your antivirus is somehow interfering with reading or writing to the pagefile, thus causing the BSOD.

The easiest way to check if your antivirus is the problem is to temporarily disable it. If the crashes stop, you’ve found the culprit.

Solving the problem is a little more difficult. If your antivirus is at fault, it’s probably the result of access protection or real-time threat detection. You will need to add exceptions to both for the windows swap file. Exactly how you do this depends on the antivirus software you use. You will need to consult the documentation for your specific software for details.

You can also completely remove your third-party antivirus and let Microsoft Defender take over. Microsoft Defender has struggled for a while, but it’s been as good as any third-party option for a few years now.

To note: Microsoft Defender is extremely unlikely to cause issues like this.

RELATED: What is the best antivirus for Windows 10 and 11? (Is Microsoft Defender good enough?)

Run a memory (RAM) test

Modern computer components are phenomenally complex and, like all things, they sometimes break. Your RAM is no exception. Fortunately, there are tests you can run to determine if your RAM is faulty.

RELATED: How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

If your RAM is faulty, that’s almost certainly the cause of the BSOD. There is not much you can do to fix faulty RAM. You can try clean the contacts and reseat it, but that probably won’t help. You will need to replace it. The good news is that RAM isn’t particularly expensive and is widely available.

RELATED: How to Upgrade or Replace Your PC’s RAM

Warning: Digging around inside your computer can cause permanent damage if you’re not careful and know what you’re doing. If you decide to change your RAM yourself and you’ve never done it before, be sure to take the proper precautions. Remember to be gentle. Computers aren’t glass (anymore), but they’re generally not built to take a beating.

Swapping out RAM on a desktop computer is quite simple and takes no more than a few minutes. Laptops are a different story – they’re much harder to open and use, and in some cases the RAM is permanently attached to the motherboard. If your laptop has permanently attached RAM, you will need to have it repaired by the manufacturer or a professional.

Run Chkdsk

Your RAM isn’t the only physical component that could be at fault – it could also be your hard drive or SSD. Sometimes the corruption occurs due to a software error, other times due to a hardware issue. Windows comes with a tool designed specifically for diagnosing and repairing hard drive or SSD problems: the Check Disk utility.

Check Disk, commonly referred to as ask Chkdsk, can repair some basic issues and help mitigate more serious ones. If there is a problem with the file system, or if there is a corrupted sector due to a software error, it can probably fix it completely. If your hard drive has a corrupt sector due to physical damage, all it can do is prevent it from being used in the future.

Corrupt sectors or problems with the file system can cause BSODs; running Chkdsk may fix the problem completely.

RELATED: How to Fix Hard Drive Problems with Chkdsk in Windows 7, 8, and 10

As with most computer parts, there is virtually nothing you can do to repair a failing hard drive or SSD, just replace it. If you find that your drive is failing, be sure to back up any important information you may have saved on it. A hard drive can completely fail at any time and prevent you from recovering important files.

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