To fix the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Error in Windows 11, try running Memory Diagnostics, using DISM and SFC Scan, updating or rolling back drivers, or resetting your PC. Check for corrupted system files, incompatible or outdated drivers, or faulty hardware.
If you've ever seen a blue screen with scary-looking white text pop up on your computer screen, then you've encountered the infamous BSOD error. One type of this error is called "IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL," and it's often caused by problematic drivers.
But don't worry, there are several ways you can address this issue. However, it's important to note that hardware issues can also be the reason for this error. If it's a software problem, though, you should be able to resolve it relatively easily.
Before you start troubleshooting, let's first take a closer look at what this error means and what might be causing it. By understanding the problem, you'll be better equipped to fix it and get your computer back up and running smoothly.
What is IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Error and What are its Main Causes?
Generally, you don't need to worry about the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error on your computer, it's a common issue that can be resolved. This error message is mainly a memory-related problem that occurs when a device driver attempts to access a memory address for which it doesn't have the necessary permissions or access rights.
The "IRQL" in the error stands for "Interruption ReQuest Line," which is a mechanism Windows uses to signal events requiring urgent attention. The "NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL" part of the message indicates that the driver attempted to access an address outside the set boundary for memory allocations.
Here are some of the most likely causes of this error message:
- Corrupted system files
- Incompatible, faulty, or outdated drivers
- Faulty or incompatible hardware. If you recently changed your RAM sticks, try switching back to the old ones to see if the problem persists.
- Damaged or incomplete software installation
Now that you have a better understanding of the issue, let's move on to how to fix it and restore your PC to its normal state.
Method 1: Run Memory Diagnostics
Since the error is typically presented when there’s an issue with system memory, it makes perfect sense to run diagnostics for the onboard memory to rule out any probable causes.
First, head to the Start Menu and type Memory Diagnostics to perform a search. Then, from the search results, click on the ‘Windows Memory Diagnostic’ tile to launch the app on your computer.
Next, click on the ‘Restart now and check for problems’ option to restart your PC and run the diagnostics.
Your PC will not restart and perform the necessary checks on your memory, once complete you will receive a comprehensive report after the restart if there’s any problem found.
Method 2: Fix the Error Using DISM and SFC Scan
There could be an issue with the core system files of your PC. Meaning some of the system files could have been corrupted or damaged which is causing the issue.
This method is a two-step process, first, you will have to run the DISM (Deployment Image and Servicing Management) tool to fix any issues with your system image which is used to repair your system. then, you will need to invoke the SFC (System File Checker) command to fix any issues present on your installed Windows files.
Since DISM is an admin-level command, you will need to launch the command-line tool as an administrator.
To do so, right-click on the Start Menu on your taskbar. Then, click on the ‘Windows Terminal (Admin)’ option If you are using an older Windows system, click to choose the ‘Command Prompt (Admin)’ option from the overlay menu.
Irrespective of the option chosen, you will see a UAC (User Account Control) screen asking you to enter the admin account credentials. If you are already logged in as an admin, simply click on the ‘Yes’ button to launch the command-line tool.
Now, if you have chosen the ‘Windows Terminal’ option, click on the chevron (downward arrow) icon from the tab bar. Then, click to choose the ‘Command Prompt’ option. Alternatively, you can press the
2 to open a Command Prompt tab.
Next, type or copy+paste the following command and hit Enter to restore your system image.
DISM /Online Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
Note: You must be connected to the internet to restore your system image. The command may also download some files in the background.
The DISM tool may take several minutes to complete the process, depending on your system and internet connection speed. It is normal for the Command Prompt to sometimes appear stuck, during the process.
Once the DISM process is completed, it is now time to run the SFC scan to fix the issues you are currently experiencing.
To run the SFC command on your machine, type or copy+paste the following command and press Enter.
The SFC scan might take a few minutes to complete. Restart your computer after the scan to see if the problem still persists.
Method 3: Update or Roll Back Drivers
If you have recently updated your drivers or haven’t updated them in a while, it can definitely be one of the reasons that can present the issue on your PC.
In case you have recently updated a driver, simply roll it back to the previous version and your problem should be eradicated, otherwise, if your drivers are out of date, you will have to manually make sure that each driver is up to date.
To do so, open the Start Menu and type Device Manager to search for it. Then, from the search results, click on the ‘Device Manager’ tile to open it.
If you are here to roll back the driver, locate the component category you recently update the driver for and double-click on it to expand the section. Then, double-click on the component to open its properties. This will open a separate window on your screen.
After that, from the properties window, click on the ‘Driver’ tab. Then, click on the ‘Roll Back Driver’ button to roll back the recent update. If the button is greyed out, the driver has not been recently updated and cannot be rolled back.
In case you are here to update the driver, on the properties window of a component, click on the ‘Update Driver’ button. This will open a separate window on your screen.
After that, from the ‘Update Drivers’ window, click on the ‘Search automatically for drivers’ to let the Windows search for drivers automatically on its servers. Otherwise, if you already have the latest driver available on your machine, click on the ‘Browse my computer for driver’ option to browse the file using File Explorer.
Now, if you have more than one outdated driver or simply put if you have many components for which you haven’t updated drivers lately, you will have to repeat the process individually in order to rule out the possibility of facing this error due to outdated drivers on your PC.
Method 4: Reset Your PC
Resetting your PC is one of the most reliable methods to straighten out issues on your computer. You can also choose to keep or remove personal files depending on your preference.
To do so, launch the ‘Settings’ app from the Start Menu. Alternatively, you can also press the Windows+I shortcut on your keyboard to launch the app.
Then, click on the ‘System’ tab on the left sidebar of the ‘Settings’ window.
Now from the right section of the window, scroll to locate and click the ‘Recovery’ option from the list.
Click the ‘Reset PC; button under the ‘Recover options’ section. This will open a separate ‘Reset this PC’ window on your screen.
On the separate ‘Reset this PC’ window that appears, you will have two options – both of which will remove all system apps and roll the system settings back to a fresh state. However, the Keep my files option will keep your personal files intact, while the Remove everything option will completely clean the slate.
Click to choose your preferred option from the ‘Reset this PC’ screen.
After that, you would need to choose between a ‘Cloud download’ and a ‘Local reinstall’. Cloud download is believed to be comparably more reliable and stand than ‘Local reinstall’ as there might be a possibility of damage or corruption of local files. However, the ‘Cloud download’ option would require an active internet connection.
Now, click the option of your choice to reinstall Windows on your computer.
Note: Neither of the reinstalling options would require you to plug in any external installation media.
Next, you will see the current settings for your PC reset. If you wish to change these settings, click the ‘Change settings’ option.
On the ‘Choose settings’ window, you have three options that will alter the settings:
- Restore preinstalled apps?: As the name sugges, this option enables you to choose if you wish to reinstall all the apps that came preinstalled on your Windows PC. This will also restore system settings to factory default, and bring your machine to a fresh state.
- Download Windows?: This option enables to switch from ‘Cloud download’ to ‘Local resintall’. In case you feel the need to change the resintallation method before it starts.
Once you have set the additional settings as per your preference, click the ‘Confirm’ button to proceed.
Click the ‘Next’ button at the bottom of the window.
It might take a while for Windows to load the next screen. Sit tight while the process runs in the background.
Windows will next list all the impacts of resetting your PC. Read and click on the ‘Reset’ button to start the resetting process.
Your machine may restart several times, which is completely normal while resetting. Resetting might take a few hours depending on your computer and chosen settings.
The IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error can be quite frustrating and disruptive to your work. However, with the right knowledge and steps, you can easily resolve this issue and restore your PC back to its normal state. From running memory diagnostics to updating or rolling back drivers, there are several methods that you can try. If all else fails, resetting your PC is a reliable option. Remember to always check for any recent changes or updates that may have caused the issue and follow the instructions carefully to avoid any further complications.