When Windows encounters a very serious error, like a Blue Screen of Death, the default action is to automatically restart your PC, presumably to get you back up and running quickly.
Of course the problem with this default behavior is that it gives you less than a second to read the error message on the screen which is nearly impossible to do.
Luckily this option, called automatic restart on system failure, can be disabled, giving you time to read and write down the error so you can begin troubleshooting.
The steps involved in disabling the automatic restart on system failure option differ somewhat depending on which Windows operating system you use.
Here are several tutorials aimed specifically at your operating system:
- How to Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure in Windows 7
- How to Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure in Windows Vista
- How to Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure in Windows XP
After disabling 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 from the message.
Important: If you're unable to fully boot into Windows due to a Blue Screen of Death, you obviously won't be able to make a configuration change in Control Panel. Luckily, at least in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, you can also disable the automatic restart on system failure option from outside of Windows. There are links to those instructions in the Windows 7 and Windows Vista guides above.