Windows "Blue Screen of Death" error
Dmitriy Domino/Shutterstock.com

Dealing with blue screen errors is never fun, but it’s worse when you have no idea what’s caused it in the first place. One particular head-scratcher is the DPC Watchdog Violation, which can be caused for a number of reasons.

It’s a fairly common error, and it was especially common when Windows 10 was first released. If you’ve had Windows 10 for a long time though, then perhaps your issue is because of a new storage device or faulty application. We’ve listed out numerous ways to help you solve this problem, so don’t worry.

Getting to Know DPC Watchdog

A violation of the DPC Watchdog protocol means that your PC’s watchdog, a utility that monitors for unresponsive programs, has been overwhelmed. It usually results in a memory dump and the dreaded blue screen of death.

Although Microsoft released an update to fix major DPC Watchdog issues, the problem can still prevail to this day. The common reason why this happens is if you’ve installed hardware or software components that your operating system can’t communicate with.

Why Am I Getting This Error?

The most common cause is having device drivers with the graphics card and SSD that are outdated or installed incorrectly. Software conflicts could also be a culprit, however, it is not as common as the other occasions.

Advertisement

It’s one of the more ambiguous errors that your PC can run into, so buckle up. You may need to go through an extensive list of potential causes before finally figuring out how to fix a DPC Watchdog Violation in Windows 10.

The Most Effective Solutions in Windows 10

It’s time to go through a comprehensive analysis of your computer’s hardware and software! Make sure you closely follow the directions under each step until you find the cause of the problem, so that you can pinpoint and manage it effectively.

Check the IDE ATA/ATAPI Controller

Most Windows users have found that configuring the IDE ATA/ATAPI controller of their PC removed the error.

  1. On your keyboard, simultaneously press Windows+X and go to “Device Manager.
  2. From here, expand the “IDEA ATA/ATAPI Controllers”. Then, right-click the “SATA AHCI Controller” and go to “Properties.”

Expand the "IDEA ATA/ATAPI Controllers"

    1. Navigate to the “Driver” tab then click on “Driver Details.” You need to make sure that the chosen driver is “iastorA.sys”.

Locate driver tab and then click driver details

If you are seeing “storahci.sys” instead, go back to the “Driver” tab and click “Update Driver”. From here, choose the following options respectively:

  1. Browse my computer for driver software.
  2. Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.
  3. Standard SATA AHCI Controller.

Once your PC is done updating, restart your system for the change to take effect.

Remove All External Devices

Since we’ve established that the DPC Watchdog Violation can be caused by hardware conflicts, try disconnecting any newly installed external hard drives, solid-state drives, printers, or scanners. After disconnecting those peripherals, restart your PC.

Advertisement

If you’ve confirmed that your PC is running fine without all the devices, you can take your investigation a step further and reconnect one device at a time to see which one is causing the error. This will help you isolate and remedy the problem while maintaining the usefulness of your other devices.

Update Your Solid State Drives

Solid-state drives (SSDs) are a popular accessory for computer enthusiasts around the world because they can have a massive impact on PC performance and speed. However, users who are fiddling with their devices also need to make sure that the SSD firmware they are investing in is supported by their PC.

Here’s how you can update your SSD drivers.

  1. Press Windows+X and open up the “Device Manager.”
  2. Look for “Disk Drives” and expand that to show all your storage devices.
  3. Right-click the first device and select “Update Driver.”
  4. Click on “Search Automatically for Drivers” to update your driver.

Repeat this step for all your storage devices to make sure that everything is up to date. Hopefully, this fixes your DPC Watchdog Violation issue.

RELATED: 10 Quick Steps to Increase PC Performance

Scan Your System Files

Does the error still persist? Then it may be the work of a corrupted or damaged system file hidden away on your PC. You’ll need to run a system file check (SFC) to verify the integrity of all the content on your device.

  1. Type in “cmd” in the Windows search box. Right-click the Command Prompt app and choose to “Run as an administrator.”
  2. Type in sfc /scannow and press Enter.
  3. Give it some time.

By the end of the scan, it should show whether or not you have any corrupted files on your PC. If you don’t, then you can close the window.

If it has found corrupted files and repaired them, you should restart your computer after the scan so that the changes can take effect.

RELATED: How to Repair Corrupted Windows System Files with the SFC and DISM Commands

Restore Your System

If all else fails, you may need to run a System Restore. This is a feature that allows you to bring the state of your device back to a previous point in time, which could be useful if your PC is suffering from an incompatible system file, Windows update, or program that you can’t find on your own.

Don’t worry, as it won’t remove, delete, or modify any of your personal files such as your documents, music, photos, videos, or emails.

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Around the top right side of the window, you will see a “View By” text with a drop-down button beside it. Select “Small Icons” among the choices under the menu. This should cause the “System” tab to appear. Click on that.

Select "System" in the Control Panel

  1. Select “System Protection”, found on the right side of the window that pops up under the “Related Settings” area.
  2. Click “System Restore” on the dialogue box.
  3. Go through the set-up wizard and confirm the restore.

This process will probably take between 15 and 20 minutes. After it’s done, you will need to restart your device so that the changes are implemented.

How to Avoid the DPC Watchdog Violation Error

In any situation, prevention is better than cure. It’s a hassle to have to go through all these steps, especially when you are in the middle of a workday or some other important activity.

While it can be difficult to foresee, you can still take preemptive action against the error by double-checking to ensure that the hardware and software you invest in are compatible with your PC before using it for an extended period of time.

RELATED: The Best Portable Hard Drives For Every Need

Mako Young Mako Young
Mako Young is a Computer Science graduate turned writer for How-To Geek. He's a tech enthusiast who has written tons of tutorials, technical articles, and blog posts. From tweaking hardware components to fixing software bugs, Mako is constantly experimenting with technology. His computer has been through hell and back, troubleshooting problems and testing out solutions.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.