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How do I fix DPC Watchdog Violation errors in Windows 8?

Answer: A major system error in Windows is often called a "blue screen of death" (BSOD). This is because the error message is displayed with a blue background and says your PC needs to be restarted.

Windows 8 DPC Watchdog Violation BSOD

In Windows 8, the blue screen of death is displayed with a more friendly blue color, but the result is no more favorable than in other versions of Windows. The only fix is restarting your computer. That means your programs will automatically close and you will lose any unsaved work.

So why does the infamous BSOD appear? It is actually a precautionary alert that halts system processes to avoid corrupting data or damaging your computer. For example, if an unknown hardware device appears to pose a threat to your computer, it may trigger a "stop code," which will abruptly stop the current processes.

While multiple stop codes can cause Windows to shut down, the most common is the "DPC Watchdog Violation." This error, often displayed as "DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION," has a bug check value of 0x00000133, which may also appear in the error message. DPC stands for "Deferred Procedure Call." The violation happens when the bug checker, called a "watchdog," detects a DPC that is running too long. This typically happens when the DPC is stuck at an interrupt request level (IRQL) of DISPATCH_LEVEL or above.

What causes DPC Watchdog Violations?

Several things can cause a DPC Watchdog Violation to be triggered in Windows 8. One of the most common is an SSD drive that has old firmware not supported by Windows 8. Another likely cause is an outdated driver for one of your hardware components. For example, if your sound card driver does not support Windows 8, simply plugging in a set of headphones could produce a DPC Watchdog Violation error. While not as common, software installations that affect your system software could also lead to DPC Watchdog Violations and the corresponding blue screen of death.

How do I fix DPC Watchdog Violations?

If the errors are hardware related, the best thing to do is update the firmware of your components and the associated drivers. Firmware and driver updates are usually available in either the Support or Downloads section of most hardware manufacturers websites. If the errors are software related, you can either reinstall the program(s) you may think may have started producing the errors or use Windows' "System Restore" function to fix potential system software issues.

If you have tried the above options and you still are experiencing DPC Watchdog Violation errors, you can use "Action Center," a control panel available in both Windows 7 and Windows 8. This panel displays important system messages and provides recommendations on how to resolve problems. If you still have errors after using Action Center, they may be caused by faulty hardware. If this is the case, you may need to have your PC examined by a technician who can diagnose what component needs to be replaced.

Published: March 7, 2013 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center