Disable Windows Automatic Restart on System Failure Easily

Stop the Auto Restart After a BSOD in Windows 7, Vista, and XP

Blue screen of death
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When Windows encounters a serious error, such as a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), the default action is to automatically restart your PC, presumably to get you back up and running quickly.

The problem with this default behavior is that it gives you less than a second to read the error message on the screen. It's nearly possible to see what caused the error in that amount of time.

The automatic restart on system failure can be disabled, which gives you time to read and write down the error so you can begin troubleshooting.

After you disable automatic restart on system failure, Windows will hang on the error screen indefinitely, meaning that you'll need to restart your computer manually to escape the message.

How Do I Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure in Windows?

You can disable the automatic restart on system failure option in the Startup and Recovery area of the System applet in Control Panel.

The steps involved in disabling the automatic restart on system failure option differ somewhat depending on which Windows operating system you use.

Disabling Automatic Restart in Windows 7

It's easy to disable automatic restart in Windows 7. You can do it in just minutes.

  1. Click the Start button and choose Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Security. (If you don't see it because you are viewing in Small icons or Large icons mode, double-click on the System icon and to go Step 4.)
  3. Choose the System link.
  4. Select Advanced system settings from the panel on the left of the screen.
  1. In the Startup and Recovery section near the bottom of the screen, click Settings.
  2. In the Startup and Recovery window, uncheck the checkbox next to Automatically restart.
  3. Click OK in the Startup and Recovery window.
  4. Click OK in the System Properties window and close the System window.

If you are unable to boot into Windows 7 following a BSOD, you can restart from outside the system:

  1. Turn on or restart your computer.
  2. Before the splash screen appears or before the computer automatically restarts, press the F8 key to enter Advanced Boot Options.
  3. Use the arrow keys to highlight Disable automatic restart on system failure and then press Enter.

Disabling Automatic Restart in Windows Vista

If you are running Windows Vista, the steps are almost the same as for Windows 7:

  1. Click the Start button and choose Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Maintenance. (If you don't see it because you are viewing in Classic View, double-click on the System icon and to go Step 4.)
  3. Click the System link.
  4. Select Advanced system settings from the panel on the left of the screen.
  5. In the Startup and Recovery section near the bottom of the screen, click Settings.
  6. In the Startup and Recovery window, uncheck the checkbox next to Automatically restart.
  7. Click OK in the Startup and Recovery window.
  8. Click OK in the System Properties window and close the System window.

If you are unable to boot into Windows Vista following a BSOD, you can restart from outside the system: 

  1. Turn on or restart your computer.
  2. Before the splash screen appears or before the computer automatically restarts, press the F8 key to enter Advanced Boot Options.
  1. Use the arrow keys to highlight Disable automatic restart on system failure and then press Enter.

Disabling Automatic Restart in Windows XP

Windows XP also can encounter a Blue Screen of Death. To disable the automatic restart in XP so you can troubleshoot the problem:

  1. Left-click on Start, select Settings, and choose Control Panel.
  2. Click System in the Control Panel. (If you don't see the System icon, click Switch to Classic View on the left side of the Control Panel.)
  3. Select the Advanced tab in the System Properties window.
  4. In the Startup and Recovery area, click on Settings.
  5. In the Startup and Recovery window, uncheck the checkbox next to Automatically restart.
  1. Click OK in the Startup and Recovery window.
  2. Click OK in the System Properties window.