IRQ or an Interrupt Request is a signal sent to the microprocessor that stops running the current program so that it can run another program instead. Different devices/software on your computer sends the signal through the Interrupt Request Channel.
If two devices try to use the same IRQ channel, we get the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) error DRIVER_IRQL_LESS_OR_NOT_EQUAL.
What Causes DRIVER_IRQL_LESS_OR_NOT_EQUAL?
Now that we know the basic reason why the particular error occurs, let us get into what causes a device to use the same IRQ channel.
- Your driver acts as an interface for your device and the operating system. If this driver malfunctions, you may get the error.
- Two devices/software by default can use the same IRQ channel.
- A faulty RAM stick can also cause this error
- Antivirus software has access to multiple IRQ channels to stop any processes. It can cause conflicts if the antivirus tries to use an IRQ channel that is already in use.
Fix DRIVER_IRQL_LESS_OR_NOT_EQUAL Blue Screen of Death
IRQL stands for Interrupt ReQuest Level. This represents the request level for different interrupts. For example: If a process is running at a low IRQL, it can get stopped or terminated by the process running at higher IRQL. Here are a few solutions that you can try to fix the problem.
Windows Memory Diagnostic
This is a special tool that the Windows Operating System provides that checks the computer’s physical memory. Using this tool, you can find if any device is using the same memory, or in this case, the IRQ channel. To run Windows Memory Diagnostic follow these steps.
- Go to the search bar and type memory.
- Open the Windows Memory Diagnostic.
- Click on Restart now and check for problems.
The computer will restart and run the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool. The tools check your windows for the memory problem. This will take a few minutes. If you have any problem with the memory, you can see it under Status. It will display the test result after you log in.
Use the System Information Tool
We can use the System Information Tool to figure out which drivers are using the same Interrupt Request (IRQ) Channel. You will need administrator privileges to follow these steps.
- Press the Windows + R key.
- Type msinfo32.exe and press enter.
- Click the “+” sign next to Hardware Resources.
- Click on Conflicts/Sharing.
Here, you can see all the devices sharing the same IRQ channels. IRQ 16 and IRQ 94 are the IRQ channels that are shared by default. The audio and raid controllers will cause some issues if they share the same Interrupt channel.
Note: RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) holds data in multiple hard drives to protect the data in case of a drive failure.
Check Memory Module
A bad memory module (RAM stick) can also cause IRQL error. As the primary memory handles all these IRQ requests, faulty RAM can be the reason for devices sharing the IRQ channel.
To check if the memory module is faulty/damaged, you can follow the steps below:
- If the computer is running on two ram sticks, you can remove any of them to see if the computer still functions properly (If the RAM stick is low on memory, this method may not work). If the computer does not start, then you might have a damaged RAM.
- Sometimes, dust on the RAM stick or a damaged memory socket can stop a RAM stick from functioning properly. To clean dust from a RAM you can use rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to wipe off any dust settled on it. You can also try cleaning the memory socket with a can of compressed air.
- If it still doesn’t work, you can use a different memory slot to insert your RAM.
Uninstall / Reinstall Your Network Drivers
The network adapters in computers use the IRQ channels the most. So, a corrupted file in a driver can cause the IRQL error on your computer.
To remove the corrupted file, you will need to uninstall and reinstall your network driver.
Press the Windows + X key and click on Device Manager. Expand Network Adapters and right-click your driver. Click on Uninstall driver. Now, Click OK to confirm.
Restart your computer as soon as possible.
Note: If you do not know which is the network driver, refer to the web for your computers network driver.
Press the Windows + X key and click on Device Manager. Expand Network Adapters and right-click on Scan for changes. This will automatically reinstall your driver.
Uninstall a Recently Installed Program and Antivirus Software
Antivirus software can stop any ongoing process using Interrupt Request Channel. This can cause the BSOD if it tries to use a channel that is already in use. Any software/application that can stop/halt ongoing processes can cause the BSOD. Uninstall these applications to fix the DRIVER IRQL problem
Update All Your Drivers
Updating your driver may help you fix this issue as the update might stop these devices from using the same IRQ channel.
Press the Windows + X key and click on Device Manager. Expand and right-click your driver. Click on Update driver. Now click on Search automatically for a driver update. Wait for the update to complete
If the computer keeps crashing from the BSOD, you can try to update your drivers from safe mode. In safe mode, most of your device and driver won’t be running except for some basic drivers like display drivers, and mouse drivers.
To start your computer in safe mode, you can follow these steps.
For Windows 10
- Press the Windows + I key.
- Click on Update and Security, then click on Recovery.
- On Advanced Startup click on Restart Now.
- When your PC restarts, select Troubleshooter.
- Select Advanced Option, then Startup Settings.
- Click on Restart.
- When your computer restarts, you will see multiple options for safe mode. Press F5 to start safe mode with the internet. Now, update all your drivers.
For Windows 11
- Press the Windows + I key.
- Click on System, then scroll down to Recovery.
After this, you can follow the Windows 10 steps from number 3. Update all your drivers.
For some reason, if you cannot enter the Settings, you can follow these steps:
- Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to enter task manager.
- Click on Files, then Run new task.
- Type “msconfig” and click OK.
- Click on Boot, then tick the safeboot checkbox.
- Under safeboot checkbox, select Network.
- Press Apply, then Ok.
- Restart your computer to enter safe mode.
To exit safe mode, you can follow the above step till number 4. Remove the checkmark from the safeboot checkbox and restart your computer.
Unplug External Devices
Two different external devices can call the same IRQ channel. To check if this is the case, unplug all the external, including all USB drives, except the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Restart the computer to see if the problem is fixed.