SOLVED: Blue Screen of Death – PFN_LIST_CORRUPT

A few years ago I ran into the infamous Blue Screen of Death (DSoD) on my laptop. This came at the worst time possible as I was finishing up my PhD, but I guess there is never the right time for something like this to happen anyway… I was able to fix it after a long Googling session, but in the end I was not sure how I had actually fixed it as I had changed a bunch of stuff at once (trying to save time instead of rebooting after every modification to see if it occurred again). But, it worked and my laptop lived to see another day – and I could finish my PhD and meet the submission deadline, which I guess was the most important part.

Come round two of my run in with BSoD mid 2021 – sigh, sometimes I hate Windows updates. This time I was not in such a rush and actually paid attention to understand what the exact problem was and how best to fix it. When you get a BSoD you will get an error code, specifically mine was PFN_LIST_CORRUPT (advice#1, advice#2), but I think what I am about to point out below could be used in general. Note: I could not revert to the previous version of Windows. The BSoD would occur randomly and it was not specific to opening an application, and I could boot up just fine after a BSoD.

My advice:

If you know that your computer was working fine prior to a windows update and then after the update you get thrown BSoD, these are the steps I would follow…

  1. Know that something called dump files exist and that you can access them
    • This is where Windows stores the information about what has caused your computer to crash and the event of what has happened can be found by using Event Viewer.
      • Event Viewer>Windows Logs>System
      • BUT this isn’t what you really want because it is longer to search through and find the problems – you can filter using Filter Current Log (righthand pane)
  2. Download BlueScreenView
    • BlueScreen View displays the dump of errors and dump files as drivers list, and decodes the information on a blue screen of death, so one can analyze and fix the errors, using a simple Google search. This program is designed for those who face blue screens of death on Windows, and need to find a solution without destroying the operating system.
  3. Look at last dump file and take note of what has been highlighted in red.
    • You can double-click on the filename to view the properties.
    • If you have two filenames highlighted, ignore the file if one of them has the product name is Microsoft Windows Operating System (e.g., ntoskrnl.exe – it handles all driver requests, power management, and memory management. So if there is a crash it automatically follows and generally is not the cause of the BSoD.
    • In my case the other filename was rtsuvc.sys – web camera driver ended up what was causing my misery, even though it was not being accessed!
  4. Google the filename to find out more info about the driver so you can update the correct one.
  5. Download Driver Easy – remember Windows Device Manager is not always reliable and often will tell you the driver is up-to-date when it is not, and so the new driver update will not be installed.
  6. Scan your drivers using Driver Easy and download the driver that is causing the issues.
    • The drivers location will likely be located in AppData>Roaming>Easeware>DriverEasy>drivers
  7. With the free version you will need to update the driver manually (or the paid version will do it/them automatically for you). To do this open Windows Device Manager, locate and right click the driver you need to update, and click update driver. Then you will need to select Browse my computer for drivers and link the driver you have downloaded using Browse. Click next and update driver.
    • AppData>Roaming>Easeware>DriverEasy>drivers>weird_name.vnp
  8. Restart your computer and you should be as good as gold :)!

Other advice that I tried, needing to reboot the computer each time and ended up wasting days, but may be beneficial if my advice doesn’t work:

  • Update Windows 10 and your drivers
    • Meh, the windows update caused the problem and all my drivers say they are up-to-date – which you would expect after updating everything possible…
    • Also, you can’t simply detect which driver is the culprit using Windows Device Manager and you do not want to go through them one-by-one – in my case the ones I thought were potentially problematic Windows said they were up-to-date…
  • Run the BSoD Troubleshooter
    • This function is not available on my laptop
  • Run check disk (CHKDSK)
    • This is about checking the condition of your hard drive and you use the chkdsk command in command prompt – chkdsk /r c: (or whichever drive you would like to check). This command scans your selected drives partitions and resolves any potential problems.
  • Run System File Checker (SFC) scan
    • Suggested when BSoD occurs
    • SFC specifically scans and repairs Windows system files. If it detects that a file has been corrupted or modified, SFC automatically replaces that file with the correct version.
    • Enter sfc /scannow into command prompt
    • The scan can take some time, but make sure you leave the Command Prompt window open until it’s complete.
  • Run Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM)
    • You shouldn’t usually need to use the tools, it’s the one to turn to when you’re experiencing frequent crashes, freezes, and errors, but SFC either can’t repair your system files or is unable to run at all.
    • Detects and fixes corrupt files in the component store of the Windows system image
    • Check if the image is corrupted without making any changes: Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
    • Run a more advanced scan to determine if the component store is healthy and repairable: Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
    • If DISM reports that there are problems with the system image, run another advanced scan to repair these issues automatically: Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  • Disable Microsoft OneDrive
    • I am not a fan of OneDrive and so has been disabled for ages
  • Uninstall problematic software
    • I mean, I am pretty sure if I knew the software problem I wouldn’t be here now and as I haven’t recently installed any new software I ruled it out as a problem
  • Check your hardware – apparently PFN_LIST_CORRUPT is often cause by RAM
    • Run mdsched.exe in run application
    • Select restart now and check for problems
    • Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool opens and runs – this can take a long time to complete (possible in the hours)

Info on chkdsk, SFC and DISM

Other BSoD errors – (Here is says PFN_LIST_COURRUPT is caused by faulty RAM, which is not always the case!)

I hope this helps anybody stuck in the BSoD situation where or other expert advice on forums has failed.