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It is one of the most common Blue screen of death errors the user may face in Windows 10. You may need help to understand what IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL means. The screen that appears during the error may only help a little to resolve the issue. IRQL is an abbreviation for Interruption Request Line. The system uses it to signal events urgently needing attention or quick response.

Sometimes, an IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error is only regarded as an IRQL error. An error associated with the memory usually happens if a system process or a driver tries to access a memory address for which it lacks valid access rights. Memory allocations for processes have an upper bound address, so in the above error, NOT LESS OR EQUAL refers to an attempt to access the memory address that exceeds the maximum or the border value.

What Happens When the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Error Occurs?

If the above error occurs, it triggers the Operating System to stop. It causes a system crash and triggers a BSOD error. BSOD refers to the Blue Screen of Death. You will see a message that the system collects further information with a percentage. It shows that the system is collecting forensic data in the background.

The system performs a reboot by default when the collection phase is completed. If you have changed the settings to shut down, it will shut down instead of rebooting.

Most Common Causes for the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Error

When the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error occurs in the system, different causes may lead to the above errors and are worth investigating. If you have recently faced the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL, you should make changes you performed in the system. They can be the most likely reason for the error. Other potential causes include:

  1. Corrupt System Files: Corrupt System Files are the most common cause of error. It can be best resolved by using DSIM / Online / Cleanup-Image / CheckHealth Command. The user can implement the above commands in the administrative command prompt or PowerShell session. You must log in as an administrator in the command prompt. Suppose the command finds anything to report. Run DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth to clean things up. The last step is to run the system file checker until it reports no error with the system files. You may be required to perform the check multiple times. Use the below command to perform the system file check SFC /SCANNOW. If the above command works, it will automatically fix the IRQL error.
  2. Incompatible device drivers: If the user has recently performed a driver update and the error has occurred only after the update, you may roll back to the previous version. You can roll back your driver to the previous version using the Device Manager. To open the Device Manager, use the keyboard shortcut Windows + X. Right-click on the device responsible for the issue. Go to Properties, navigate to the Driver tab, and click the Roll Back Driver option. If you cannot use the Roll Back option, you may be required to uninstall the current driver and install the previous version manually.
  3. Faulty Hardware: Since the error is associated with the driver. Faulty hardware can also be a cause for the BSOD error. If the device malfunctions or fails, you can find the error reports in the Reliability Monitor. You can start the Reliability Monitor by typing perfmon /rel in the Run Box. You can also use the same command in the command prompt or PowerShell. The best solution to prevent the IRQL LESS OR NOT EQUAL due to faulty hardware is disconnecting the device from the PC and replacing it with a new one.
  4. Damaged or incomplete software installation: Any recent system application or software change can also cause a BSOD error. Check the Reliability Monitor to see if there are any notifications associated with installation failure. You can also see the Update History, where you can see the user's latest updates. In certain scenarios, the best solution is to uninstall the software and check if the BSOD error still occurs.

Graphics Drivers Often Cause IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Errors

I've seen the IRQL error on more than half a dozen occasions in my 6-plus years of working with Windows 10. In all but one instance, the cause was a buggy Nvidia GeForce graphics driver. In all of those cases, I stopped the IRQL error dead in its tracks by rolling back to the preceding version.

That's why I don't remove duplicate Nvidia graphics drivers from my Windows PCs until the new one has run without problems for a couple of weeks. The excellent GitHub project DriverStore Explorer is great at performing such cleanups when the time comes. Take your time with such cleanups; you'll leave the rollback option open to yourself, should you need it.


  • If the system has damaged or corrupted system files, it may cause a BSOD error. The system file may get corrupted due to a virus or malware infection. Some virus attacks Windows system files or programs related to Windows OS.
  • The issue can be related to the driver. If the new driver is not compatible with the hardware of the system, then also it may cause the same error. If the users install new hardware that conflicts with the drive, it could lead to IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error.
  • Another issue can be related to the CPU. If the CPU is overheated, it may cause the system to shut down. If the CPU temperature rises a certain range, the system immediately shuts down via BSOD error. It is done to prevent further damage to the CPU.
  • Updating or downgrading the Windows version can also be responsible for the above BSOD error. Sometimes, while performing updates or downgrades on the Windows system, files can be improperly placed. It may happen due to conflicts between different versions of Windows.
  • Hardware-related issues can also lead to IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error. If the motherboard or RAM is damaged, that could lead to BSOD errors.
  • If the system registry is corrupted, it can cause a BSOD error. The registry corruption can be caused due to recently installed or uninstalled software.
  • If a system software is not installed properly, it can also lead to IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL.

Fixing IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL in Windows 10

There are some fixes that the user may perform to resolve IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error. Follow the instructions below to fix the error.

Note: Before fixing the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error in Windows 10, it is advised to back up most of the data and important files so that data loss can be mitigated during the operation.

Uninstall Malware

If the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error occurs when you have recently installed software, then the most likely cause of the BSOD error is the particular software. The software can interrupt the system, or there may be a virus that can lead to BSOD error. To resolve the issue, you can run an antivirus system, but the best solution is to uninstall the software and download the software again from a trusted source.

Follow the below steps to uninstall the software:

  1. Open the Start Menu in your Windows system. Click on settings to continue.
  2. In the Settings, click on Apps. There, you will see the App and its features. You can find all the applications. From the settings, sort the apps based on the Installation date.
  3. After sorting the application, you can easily find the application. Now select the App and click on uninstall to uninstall the application from the system.
  4. You can take the method of uninstalling this software to see if it can solve this problem.
  5. Please click Settings from the Start menu to continue.

After uninstalling the latest installed system, the error should be resolved. If it is unresolved, you can move to the next fix mentioned below.

Keep Your System Cool

The system generates a lot of heat when working. If there is an issue with the computer cooling system and it cannot remove the hot hair from the computer, then it can increase the CPU temperature, damaging different components in the CPU. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to cool your system. You can perform the below steps to reduce the system temperature.

  • Change the CPU fan: If the CPU fan is not working properly or the performance is not high enough, then the system cannot get rid of the hot air, thereby increasing the temperature of the CPU. You can change the fan or install an additional one to resolve the overheating problem.
  • Install the Water Cooling Kit: If the system has a very high configuration. Then, the fan cannot resolve the issue. In that case, the user should install a water cooling kit. It is an additional accessory that ensures the safety of the computer.

Run Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool

If the desktop shows IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error, then the issue is likely with the RAM. You should perform a check to verify if the RAM is working properly. To check the RAM, you can use Windows Memory Diagnostics.

Open the Windows search bar and type Windows Diagnostic. Open the Windows Memory Diagnostic and proceed with the steps below.

Select Restart now and check for problem options.

Note: Before using the above options, save your recent works and close all windows before restarting the system.

After starting the above process, you must wait for the system to find the problems. Once the search finishes, the system will return the detected problem. If it returns no problem, then you can proceed to the next fix.

Update Driver

The issue can be with the drive. The driver may be no longer compatible with the system. If the driver is not updated to the latest version, it may interrupt the functioning of the window and can also IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL BSOD error.

Follow the below steps to update the driver:

  1. Open the File Explorer, right-click on This PC, and then select Manage.
  2. You will see the Device Manager under the option for System Tools.
  3. Right-click on the disk drive you want to update and click on Update Driver.
  4. Once complete, perform a system reboot and verify if the error is resolved. If the error persists, then you could move to the next step.

Run Hardware Troubleshooter

The hardware malfunctions can also lead to IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error. You can run the Troubleshooter to verify if the issue is with the hardware.

Follow the below steps to run the Hardware Troubleshooter:

  1. Open the settings to start with the Troubleshooter.
  2. Click on Update and Security. In the Update and Security tab, select Troubleshoot and select Hardware and Devices to continue.
  3. Click Run the Troubleshooter to start the hardware troubleshooter.
  4. Now, you must wait until the system finds an issue with the hardware. Once the whole process is completed, if there is an issue with the hardware, it will be shown on the screen. You can select the issue to fix the problem. If there is no problem, the error is not caused by hardware problems.

Run Driver Verifier

The last fix you can perform to solve the IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error is using the Driver Verifier. It is better to get professional help while performing the steps.

Before starting the Driver Verifier, create a restore point for the system. The tool will run till the restore point to avoid unrecoverable operations.

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