How To Fix ‘Driver irql not less or equal’ Error

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If the blue screen (also called blue screen of death) error “Driver irql not less or equal” shows up on your PC or notebook, you can usually correct it yourself. In this article we will show you what to do in case this happens to your computer or laptop.

What does the error ‘Driver irql not less or equal’ mean?

This system message from the computer, is a hardware error message from Windows. It always occurs when the hard disk for some reason won’t start anymore or the system just switches off in the middle of it. Unfortunately, the causes can be many and varied. ‘Driver irql not less or equal’ can also happen during windows install process.In the case you are too afraid to touch your computer you should call a computer technician.

However, the “Driver irql not less or equal” error is quite common, especially when gaming or when high performance is required. This stop code usually means that a current driver has a conflict between two or more hardware devices. This conflict occurs in the memory units (RAM) and may be caused by a driver trying to access/write to a read-only RAM allocation or a location not allocated to the device, or a memory allocation is being accessed by more than one driver at a time. This will cause the system to “panic” and output all memory, hence a BSOD and subsequent reboot on your PC.

This error is caused by faulty, outdated, or corrupt drivers that cause this conflict. In games this is usually caused by the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) drivers and even your mouse, keyboard, gamepad or other game controller drivers. Some programs such as antivirus programs like AVG, IObit, Avast, McAfee and Norton usually install drivers to control your firewall and online activity, among other things. These drivers may deny activity to another driver or try to change input from other drivers, hence this error. If you are playing an online game (e.g. CS:GO, Fortnite) this error might be caused by faulty Ethernet or wireless drivers. This BSOD error is also common on overclocked and overloaded PCs (also new ones like the Surface Pro 7. Programs such as MSI Afterburner can be the cause of this, resulting in unstable voltage and RAM frequency. The error could also be caused by a faulty RAM, which requires replacement.

How to fix ‘Driver irql not less or equal’ ?

Possible causes for „Driver irql not less or equal“

There are different possibilities for the BIOS message ‘Driver irql not less or equal’. The message itself might points to a driver, which can be caused by a hard disk damage. Often there are also problems with a defective graphics card or a damaged memory latch. In the end we have no other choice than to try out the possibilities one after the other.

It is helpful if you have another computer for this purpose, in order to exchange hardware or test supposedly damaged parts there.

Computer Systems for which our guide works:

Windows 10

Windows 8

Windows 8.1

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

Preparations :

There is no clear cause for this error, the reasons can be different. In some cases the problem is not the driver of the hardware, but often the hardware itself.

First, you should exclude any error in the driver. Therefore make sure that all drivers for your hardware are up to date. Here you will find instructions for updating the drivers.

It is generally advisable to install all updates for your PC.

Case 1:

One of the possible causes for the “irql not less or equal” is a broken hard disk. Whether this is really the cause is hard to determine. The easiest way is to remove it and test it in a working PC. If it runs there successfully, it is not the cause of the error message.

However, you can also test, if all cable connections are correctly seated. Sometimes the system does start after several attempts, but still has problems. This gives the impression, tha the hard disk is damaged, but at some point it might turn out that it was the graphics card.

In other cases, drives that are not actually involved cause problems and interfere with the other drives via the controller. It can also help if you disconnect all drives (not just the power supply!) and then restart your computer.

Case 3 and 4: Graphics card or main memory unit causing „Driver irql not less or equal“

Graphics card and main memory damage and can lead to faulty data processing, which might seem like hard disk problems. If you can exclude the hard disk from the possible causes, you might find the cause with these two units, since they often are the reason for this Error.

A good start to fix this this problem is checking the memory. We usually have two memory locks (also called RAM) in the PC and already one broken memory chip can lead to this Errors. That is why should simply turn off the PC, disconnect it from the power supply and then remove one of the memory bars. After that you try to boot up again. If that does not work, try the other lock.

Sometimes it doesn’t work because the BIOS doesn’t register the change. Then you have to switch to the BIOS before booting and reset all values there. Now you should at least be able to boot with one memory lock, if it was the main memory.

Graphics card

However, the error may have been in the graphics card. This happens relatively often. But hardly anyone has several graphics cards lying around at home.

In this case it can be helpful if you can fall back on the graphics card of another computer at short notice. Here, too, the following applies: Disconnect both computers from the network before replacing them. Not so much for your own safety, but more because of avoiding damage to the motherboard.

Cause 4  Processor heating causes “driver irql not less or equal”

The Error message “driver irql not less or equal” is generally said to be a memory processing problem, although the processor can of course also be the cause.

In this cause, the problem often occurs when it gets too hot. However, this problem is very different from the problems described so far, because it does not occur when the computer is started up cold or cooled down.

This is positive, because it means it is easier to isolate the error. The cause is rarely a fault in the processor hardware, but rather a cooling problem.

If ventilation slits are covered, for example when working with the laptop on your cover/duvet this can happen. Also, if the ventilation slits are covered by too much dirt/dust on computer.

In this case you should clean everything and especially the computers’ fan.

Here you will find a video guide on how to fix ‘Driver irql not less or equal’

How to update a driver

Follow our step-by-step instructions or short explanation at the bottom.

Note: If the instructions don’t work, you should alternatively check the website of the corresponding hardware manufacturer, for example the Logitech download page or the Nvidia download page. There you can often download the latest drivers. In rare cases, these drivers are so new that they are not yet recognized by Windows’ automatic driver search and must therefore be installed manually.

Step 1:

Open the Start menu by clicking or pressing the [Windows] key. Now search for “Device Manager” and click on the Control Panel result displayed.

Step 2:

You are now in the Device Manager. Take a look at the categories and open the category that matches your hardware. In the example, the driver for the graphics card is to be updated, right-click on the specific hardware (in this case the Intel graphics card) and select “Properties“.

Step 3:

A new window opens. Here you can see the specific properties of your hardware. Now you should be able to see the option “Update Driver“, which is on the top of the tab. If you do this, Windows will automatically search for and download new drivers, if any are available, and if this option is grayed out, no new drivers are currently available for your hardware.

Quick Guide:

  • Open the Start menu by pressing the [Windows] key.
  • Then enter “Device Manager”. Click on the result to open the Device Manager of the Control Panel
  • Locate the hardware (e.g. graphics card) whose drivers you want to update. The individual hardware parts are sorted by categories, which you can open with one click.
  • Then right-click on the hardware and select “Properties”.
  • In the “Drivers” tab you can click on “Update Driver”. An automatic driver update will then be checked and performed. If the field is grayed out, your drivers are up to date.

Pro tip:

If the problem occurs on your computer or laptop/notebook, you should try using the Reimage Plus software, which can scan the repositories and replace damaged and missing files. This will work in most cases where the problem occurs due to system corruption.


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