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How to Fix IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Errors in Windows 10

One of the more common Windows stop codes is named IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL. This cryptic-seeming name refers to an Interruption ReQuest Line (IRQL) that PCs use to signal events in urgent need of attention or response. In fact, IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL (sometimes referred to as just “IRQL”) is typically a memory related error that occurs if a system process or a device driver seeks access to a memory address for which it lacks valid access rights. Memory allocations for processes usually have an upper bound address, so the “NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL” part refers to an attempt to access an address outside (greater than) that boundary value.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

What Happens When the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Error Occurs?

This error triggers an OS stop, which causes Windows to crash and triggers what’s often called a Blue Screen of Death, or BSOD. Windows displays a stop screen, while it’s collecting forensics data in the background. When that collection phase ends, the PC reboots by default (unless you’ve changed settings to instruct it to shut down instead). This BSOD is shown as the lead-in graphic for this story.

Most Common Causes for the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Error

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