Encountering errors that crash your system is a daunting experience. If the error is caused by a simple bug or is just a one-time thing, you don’t have to worry much. But some errors are comparatively difficult to fix and the ‘Critical Process Died’ error is one of them.
There could be various underlying causes leading to the ‘Critical Process Died’ error and a proper understanding of each is necessary before you head towards troubleshooting.
Also, unlike Windows 10 where a blue screen would appear in case the system crashes, Windows 11 has a black screen, to keep up with the new theme. The rest remains the same, whether it be the sad face, the QR code, or the error information, you would find them all.
What is the ‘Critical Process Died’ Error?
The error is encountered when a process critical to the functioning of Windows doesn’t run properly or has failed altogether. This may sound simple but the real task lies in identifying that process. We have listed some of the common causes.
- Corrupt or Outdated Drivers
- Bad system update
- Corrupt Widows Files
- Malicious Application Installed on the System
One way to identify the cause is by verifying when you encounter the ‘Critical Process Failed error’. If you encounter it while playing heavy games, it could be due to the graphics driver while if you encounter it after upgrading the Windows, there could be a problem in the update itself. We will take each of the causes in the following section and help you fix the error on your system.
Boot Windows 11 into Safe Mode
Many users have reported being unable to launch Windows as the system crashes while the Windows is booting. This would prevent you from troubleshooting in the ‘Normal Mode’. In this case, it’s recommended that you boot Windows 11 in safe mode.
If Windows keeps crashing, your system should enter the ‘Automatic Repair Mode’ the third time it crashes. If it doesn’t do so automatically, you can force crash the Windows and enter the ‘Automatic Repair Mode’. Here’s how you do that.
Note: Do not use this method unless absolutely necessary since it could damage the system.
Press the power button to turn on the system and wait for the Windows to start booting. When you see it booting, long-press the power button to turn off the system. Repeat the same process thrice and when you turn on the system the fourth time, it would enter the ‘Automatic Repair Mode’, and the screen would read ‘Preparing Automatic Repair’.
The system will now run a diagnosis to identify and fix the problem that’s preventing your Windows from booting.
In all likelihood, you will encounter the below screen. Click on ‘Advanced options’ to proceed
Your system will now enter the ‘Recovery Environment’ and there will be three options listed on the screen, select ‘Troubleshoot’.
Next, click on ‘Advanced options’.
You will now be presented with six choices on the ‘Advanced options’ screen, select ‘Startup Settings’.
You will now find a list of the various Windows startup settings that you can opt for. Now, click on ‘Restart’ to proceed.
When the system restarts, identify the key assigned to ‘Safe Mode’ and press it. These should be 4,5, and 6. Press either of the three number keys (4,5, or 6) or the function keys (F4, F5, or F6) to launch Windows 11 into the corresponding type of Safe Mode.
Once the system launches in the Safe Mode, execute the following fixes to resolve the ‘Critical Process Died’ error.
1. Some Basic Checks
Before we start meddling with the software, there are some basic checks that you should do. In many cases, these would fix the ‘Critical Process Died’ error.
Note: If you are not comfortable executing these checks, move to the other fixes mentioned below.
- Clean the Ram: Many a time, it’s the dust buildup on the RAM that leads to various errors. In this case, take out the RAM and clean it and ensure that there’s no dust buildup in it. While you are at it, clean the RAM slot as well.
- Check Hard Drive: A loosely connected hardrive could also lead to the ‘Critical Porcess Died’ error. Check the connections and fix reconnect them if they are loose.
- BIOS: Check if you are running the latest version of the BIOS as it’s a possible case for the error.
If the above fixes didn’t work or you are hesitant in executing them, try the ones below.
2. Run Troubleshooters
Microsoft offers built-in troubleshooters to fix most of the issues, be it related to hardware or software. These come in handy when fixing both trivial and intricate issues with the system. However, since we don’t the cause of the error, you may have to run multiple troubleshooters.
To run the troubleshooter, click on the ‘Start’ icon in the Taskbar or press WINDOWS + X to launch the Quick Access menu, and then select ‘Settings’ from the list of options. Alternatively, you can press WINDOWS + I to directly launch the ‘Settings’ app.
In the ‘System’ tab of Settings, click on the ‘Troubleshoot’ option on the right.
Next, select ‘Other troubleshooters’ from the list of options on the right.
You will now come across several troubleshooters listed on the screen. Click on ‘Run’ next to the ones that want to begin the troubleshooter. You may have run to multiple troubleshooters in order to fix the error. Look at the causes mentioned earlier in the article and run the relevant ones.
After you have run the troubleshooters, check if the error is fixed. If not, move to the next method.
3. Run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter
This troubleshooter is not listed in the ‘Settings’ and has to be run separately. The ‘Hardware and Devices’ troubleshooter will help identify hardware issues and fix them.
To run the ‘Hardware and devices’ troubleshooter, press WINDOWS + R to launch the Run command, enter ‘msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic’ in the text field, and either click on ‘OK’ at the bottom or press ENTER to launch the troubleshooter.
Now, click on ‘Next’ to run the troubleshooter, follow the on-screen instructions and choose the relevant response when prompted, to complete the troubleshooting process.
If any issues were detected and fixed, check if the ‘Critical Process Died’ error is resolved.
4. Reinstall Drivers
The ‘Critical Process Died’ error could also be due to a corrupted driver. In this case, you will have to reinstall the driver.
To reinstall the driver, search for ‘Device Manager’ in the Search Menu, and click on the relevant search result to launch the app.
Now, locate any driver with a yellow exclamation mark sign. These drivers may be problematic and it’s best to reinstall them.
Next, right-click on the driver and select ‘Uninstall device’ from the context menu.
Finally, select ‘Uninstall’ in the confirmation box that appears.
After the driver is uninstalled, restart the system and Windows will automatically install the most compatible driver to replace it. After the new driver is installed, check if the error is fixed.
5. Update Drivers
If you couldn’t find a corrupt driver, there is also a chance that you running an outdated driver that’s leading to the error. In this case, you should update the driver. Since you wouldn’t be able to identify which driver leads to the ‘Critical Process Died’ error, check for updates for all the critical drivers.
To update a driver, launch the ‘Device Manager’ as discussed earlier, double-click on a device to view the drivers, right-click on the driver that you want to update, and select ‘Update driver’ from the context menu.
In the ‘Update Drivers’ window, you will be presented with two options, either to update let Windows automatically search for the best available drivers on your system or manually locate and install them. It’s recommended that you select the first option and let Windows handle the search and installation.
If Windows couldn’t find an update, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that one’s not available. Many manufacturers do not submit the driver update to Microsoft, rather upload it on the official website. Thus, Windows is unable to fetch the update.
In this case, you will have to search the web with ‘Computer Model’, ‘OS’, and ‘Driver Name’ as the keywords. In the search results, locate the manufacturer’s official website and download the driver update, if one is available.
After you have downloaded the update, double-click on the downloaded file to launch the installer and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process.
Follow the same process to update the other critical drivers and check if it fixes the error. If not, move to the next fix.
6. Run SFC Scan
The SFC (System Files Checker) scan identifies the corrupt system files and replaces them with their cache copies. This is found to be an effective fix for the ‘Critical Process Died’ error.
To run the SFC scan, search for ‘Windows Terminal’ in the Search Menu, right-click on the relevant search result and select ‘Run as administrator’ from the context menu to run it with administrative privileges. Click ‘Yes’ on the UAC box that appears.
If you haven’t set ‘Command prompt’ as the default profile through the Windows Terminal settings, the ‘Windows PowerShell’ tab will launch by default. To open Command Prompt, click on the arrow icon at the top, and select ‘Command Prompt’ from the list of options. Alternatively, you can press CTRL + SHIFT + 2 to launch the ‘Command Prompt’
Next, type the following command and press ENTER to execute it.
The SFC scan will start in a few moments and take a couple of minutes to complete. After the scan is completed, restart the system and check if the ‘Critical Process Died’ error is fixed.
7. Run DISM
DISM or Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool is an administrator-level command that will check and repair the Windows Image. If running the SFC scan didn’t help, you can try the DISM tool.
To run the DISM tool, first, launch an elevated ‘Windows Terminal’ and open the ‘Command Prompt’ tab as discussed earlier. Now, enter the following commands one at a time, press ENTER, wait for the execution to complete, and then enter the next command.
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
After running the DISM tool, reboot the system and check if the ‘Critical Process Died’ error is fixed.
8. Run Full System Scan
A Windows 11 system infected with malware or antivirus will also encounter the ‘Critical Process Died’ error. To identify and remove the malware, run a full system scan with an antivirus. We will be using the built-in ‘Windows Defender’, although you can use any third-party antivirus for the task.
To run a full-system scan, search for ‘Windows Security’ in the ‘Search Menu’, and click on the relevant search result to launch the app.
Next, click on the ‘Virus and threat protection’ option.
You will now find the option to run a ‘Quick scan’, however, we intend to run a ‘Full Scan’. Hence, click on ‘Scan options’ to view the other available scan types.
Now, select ‘Full scan’ and click on ‘Scan now’ at the bottom to start the scan.
The scan will take some time to complete depending, meanwhile you can continue working on the system. Once the scan is completed, check if the ‘Critical Process Died’ error is fixed.
9. Uninstall Problematic Applications
If you started encountering the error after installing an application, uninstall it and check the error is fixed.
To uninstall an application, press WINDOWS + R to launch the ‘Run’ command, enter ‘appwiz.cpl’ in the text field, and either click on ‘OK’ at the bottom or press ENTER to launch the ‘Programs and Features’ window.
Now, select the app you installed right before you started encountering the error and click on ‘Uninstall at the top.
If this doesn’t work, you can similarly uninstall the other apps that you installed during the same time and check if the ‘Critical Process Died’ error is fixed. If not, move to the next fix.
10. Uninstall Windows Updates
If you started encountering the error right after updating the Windows, it’s time you revert to the previous version. Many times, it could be a bug in the update that’s leading to the ‘Critical Process Died’ error.
To uninstall Windows updates and revert to the previous version, search for ‘Settings’ in the ‘Search Menu’, and click on the relevant search result to launch the ‘Settings’ app.
In the ‘Settings’ window, select the ‘Windows Update’ tab from the left.
Next, select ‘Update history’ under ‘More options’.
Now, scroll down and select ‘Uninstall updates’ to proceed.
All the recent updates will now be listed. Now, remember when you first encountered the error and identify the updates installed right before it with the date mentioned in the ‘Installed On’ column. After you have identified the update, click on ‘Uninstall’ at the top to remove them and revert to the previous version.
After you revert to the previous version, check if the ‘Critical Process Died’ error is fixed.
11. Perform a Clean Boot
If the error is caused due to a malfunctioning service, you can perform a Clean Boot. In this, only the critical services, drivers, and programs are loaded. Clean Boot is an effective troubleshooting method when fixing an error. Let’s see how you perform one.
To perform a clean boot, press WINDOWS + R to launch the ‘Run’ command, enter ‘msconfig’ in the text field, and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.
In the ‘System Configuration’ window, select ‘Diagnostic Startup’ in the ‘General’ tab, and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.
Finally, click on ‘Restart’ in the box that pops up to restart your system with only the basic services and drivers.
After the system restarts, search for ‘Services’ in the Search Menu, and launch the app by clicking on the relevant search result.
Now, select a service that’s currently not running and click on ‘Start’. Verify if starting the service causes the system to crash. Do this for all the services and the service that crashes the system is the culprit. Keep it disabled until you find a specific fix pertaining to that service.
This process may take a lot of time, hence, it’s recommended that you begin with running the critical services and then move to the less important ones.
12. Run System Restore
If none of the above fixes worked, you have no option but to go with ‘System Restore’. With this, you can take your system back in time to a point when the error did not exist. Running System Restore may uninstall recently added apps and change the settings, although it won’t affect the files stored on the system.
To run System Restore, open How to Create a Restore Point in Windows 11, and navigate to the ‘Recover your PC Using a System Restore Checkpoint’ section.
After you have restored the system, the ‘Critical Process Died’ error would be fixed.
With the above methods, you can easily fix the ‘Critical Process Died’ error. No matter how intricate or critical an error, you can easily fix it with the right troubleshooting strategy and methods.