IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL is a Blue Screen of Death error message that can occur on Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and older editions. It’s typically accompanied by the 0x0000000A error code.
It you stumble upon it, it means that you can no longer use your computer and must fix the problem before resuming your normal activities.
The stop code can be caused by a wide range of problems, starting with the device drivers, memory, and antivirus software. It’s sometimes accompanied by the ntoskrnl.exe file, which indicates there’s a problem with the kernel image.
How to fix IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL on Windows 10
Before attempting to repair any BSOD error messages on your computer, it’s a good idea to set up a system restore point. It’s a failsafe measure that allows you to roll back OS changes in case you make any mistakes.
If possible, you could also create a full backup, especially when it comes to saving precious files.
1. Check your drivers
Outdated and incompatible drivers can cause BSOD errors on Windows computers, including the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL stop code. However, you can fix this checking and updating your drivers.
Reinstall drivers using the following steps:
- Right-click the Start button and click Device Manager
- Select and right-click a device from the list, then press Uninstall device
- Follow the on-screen instructions to remove the device
- Restart your computer. Windows will reinstall the correct driver automatically
You can use Microsoft’s DriverVerifier if you need more help finding more information about the devices and drivers currently installed on your computer.
Update drivers easily:
- In Device Manager, right-click a device and select Update driver
- Click Search automatically for updated driver software
- If you get the The best drivers for your device are already installed message, click Search for updated drivers on Windows Update
Windows Update may not find newer driver versions to download and install. In that case, you have to visit your device manufacturer’s website and get them yourself.
If you prefer a simpler and safer solution, though, we suggest using driver update software. An application like this autodetects all drivers on your PC, including obsolete ones. It then finds newer versions online, offering to download and install them on your PC.
2. Check your memory
Your computer might experience issues with your RAM card. In turn, this could lead to Blue Screen of Death errors on Windows 10, including IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL.
So it’s a good idea to scan your memory card for issues and fix them as soon as possible. Windows 10 has a built-in tool for this purpose, and here’s how to use it:
- Make sure to suspend all active processes
- Press the Win key, type Windows Memory Diagnostic, and launch this app
- Click Restart now and check for problems
Windows Memory Diagnostic will perform a scan during the next Windows boot.
If you want to obtain more details about your system memory, you should check out MemTest since it has more advanced diagnosis tools for RAM and CPU.
3. Disable or uninstall your antivirus software
The real-time engine of third-party antivirus tools could interfere with the Windows runtime and kernel image, triggering the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error as a result. To fix this, just disable the real-time safeguard or just turn off your antimalware application.
If you have two or more antivirus programs installed, each with its own real-time engine, then they might clash, causing system stability problems as a result.
It’s also a good idea to uninstall any unused security application from your device. Then, restart your computer to check if you still receive the dreadful BSOD error message.
If you don’t have a third-party antivirus solution installed on Windows 10, it means that you have to configure Defender.
Here’s how to temporarily disable Windows Defender:
- Click the Start button, type Windows Security, and open this app
- Select Virus & threat protection
- Click Scan options
- Select Quick scan and click Scan now
- If the scan results don’t return any malicious agents, try again with Windows Defender Offline scan
4. Fix hard disk and system errors
If your hard disk or operating system isn’t functioning normally due to damaged files, processes, or services, then you should expect Blue Screen of Death messages like IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL.
However, you can troubleshoot your HDD, SSD and operating system by entering a few lines of code in Command Prompt, so you don’t need to install anything else on your computer.
Check your HDD or SSD for errors using CHKDSK (Check Disk):
- Open CMD as admin
- If Windows is installed on the C: partition, type
chkdsk c: /f. Otherwise, replace
c:with the correct partition
- It will ask you to confirm scheduling CHKDSK at the next Windows boot. Type y to confirm
- Reboot your PC and wait
The Check Disk utility focuses on hard disk errors only, so it will fix IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL if the error originated there.
Repair corrupt system files with SFC (System File Checker):
- Launch Command Prompt with admin rights and type
- Wait until SFC finishes checking and fixes integrity violations
- Restart your PC
The System File Checker tool focuses on damaged system files. If Windows has any missing or corrupt files, then SFC will take care of them. But if it doesn’t also repair your BSOD errors, then you need something more powerful.
Run DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management):
- Open Command Prompt as admin and type
DISM /online /cleanup-image /scanhealth
- If it identifies any issues, you can take care of them with
DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth
- Restart your PC and relaunch CMD with elevated rights
sfc /scannowto run System File Checker
- Reboot your computer again
DISM looks for corrupt data in the component store of the Windows image, making it a bit more intrusive than SFC. You can count on it to repair the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL stop code if it has anything to do with the component store.
5. Uninstall recent programs
If you have recently installed a suspicious app that makes too many changes to your operating system, it could be the reason why you keep getting BSOD errors. For example, certain antimalware solutions and VPN services have been known to trigger IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL.
In this case, the easiest solution is to remove the fishy software applications. Here’s how to do that:
- Right-click the Windows Start button and go to Apps and Features
- Click on Sort by and set it to Install date to view recently installed programs
- Select the first program on the list, click Uninstall, and proceed with the removal process
- If you have installed multiple suspicious apps lately, make sure to remove all of them
- Reboot your computer to see if you still receive the BSOD error message
However, if those applications have integrated new entries in the registry and modified system DLL files when you installed them, then removing them using the Windows built-in uninstaller won’t be enough.
We suggest using a dedicated app uninstaller that removes leftover files and restores Windows DLL files to default after eliminating a program.
6. Update Windows
If you disabled automatic Windows updates, this could cause computer problems and BSOD errors since your OS can no longer download and install important security patches or hotfixes.
Here’s how to manually download Windows updates:
- Press the Windows key, type Check for updates, and hit Enter
- If Windows finds any new updates, click Download
- Restart your PC
7. Remove and reseat your hardware devices
If your USB ports are faulty, this could lead to BSOD errors like IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL. Try plugging your USB-enabled devices into different ports and mix them around.
Furthermore, some Blue Screen of Death messages can be caused by hardware devices that aren’t properly plugged in the computer unit.
To repair this, you have to shut down your PC and detach all hardware parts by removing all cables and gear. Afterward, carefully place each device back in, especially when it comes to the BIOS, graphic, and memory cards.
While you’re at it, it might be a good idea to check if your hardware is compatible with Windows 10.
8. Use System Recovery
The System Recovery mode allows you to roll back Windows 10 to a previous checkpoint. So, if the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL was caused by a software problem, then you should be able to quickly fix it this way.
Just keep in mind that any new software applications you installed will be gone after the rollback.
- Log in as the computer administrator
- Press Ctrl + R, type control panel, and hit Enter
- Click Recovery
- Click Open System Restore
- Select a restore point from the list that was created before you started receiving the BSOD error
- Restart your computer
9. Clean boot Windows
A clean Windows boot means starting up Windows 10 by loading only the necessary components at the software level when it comes to drivers, services, and processes. Everything else is excluded.
If the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL stop code was caused by a faulty driver, service or process, then a clean boot will create a safe environment to help you further troubleshoot the problem.
- Press the Win key, type System Configuration, and launch this app
- Go to the Services tab, deselect Hide all Microsoft services, and click Disable all
- Select the Startup tab and click Open Task Manager
- Right-click the first item in the list and select Disable
- Do this for all startup processes with the Enabled status
- Restart your computer
10. Run Disk Cleanup
If you don’t have enough free disk space, Windows 10 fails to run its processes and get updated. In time, this can cause serious problems on your computer, including BSOD errors like IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL.
However, you can fix it by running Disk Cleanup, a simple and effective tool built into Microsoft’s operating system. Before using it, make sure you don’t need to save any files from the Downloads folder or restore anything from Recycle Bin.
Here’s how to free up disk space with Disk Cleanup:
- Log in as the computer admin
- Launch Windows Explorer with Win + E, right-click the C: drive, and select Properties
- Head over to the General tab and click Disk Cleanup
- At Files to delete, select everything. Click Clean up system files
- Once the scan is over, select everything again, click OK and then Delete Files
- Restart your computer
If you need to delete more files, make sure to back up your important pictures, videos and work documents to an external disk. You could also burn discs or upload files to the cloud to keep them safe.
A rundown of IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL fixes
To conclude, the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL BSOD error can be caused by a software or hardware issue on Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and older.
However, you can try to fix it by checking your device drivers and system memory, disabling or uninstalling your antivirus software, and repairing any hard disk or system errors.
You should also uninstall any suspicious programs you recently installed, use Windows Update and System Recovery, remove and reseat your hardware devices, as well as run Disk Cleanup and clean boot Windows.
Which of these fixes did the trick for you? Did we miss anything important? Let us know in the comment section below.
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