When it comes to Windows, despite being the world’s most widely adopted operating system, it comes with its list of flaws and errors. Luckily, there’s a large, helpful community behind it that makes dealing with these issues a lot easier.
This guide will cover the Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap Error both Windows 10 & 11 users encounter.
If you’ve dealt with it lately, keep reading to learn more.
Let’s get into it.
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What Is The Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap Error?
Windows errors come in different forms. However, most users can agree that so-called “BSOD” or “Blue Screen of Death” errors are the most disruptive and frightening.
BSOD errors cause the computer to shut down or restart, making it unusable. Blue screen errors are the highest form of disruption, and they often are a reason to be concerned because the cause can indicate a hardware malfunction.
The Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap Error is in the category of BSOD errors, and to fix it, you’ll have to do a bit of troubleshooting.
Unfortunately, this is not the lightest problem to solve, as some of the listed methods require the user to have a bit of experience uninstalling and installing hardware components, such as RAM sticks and the CMOS battery on the motherboard, as well as being familiar with changing settings within the BIOS.
Luckily, we’ve tested multiple methods and gathered information from users who experienced the same issue and managed to fix it.
So, in the sections below, you’ll find step-by-step explanations for the proven and working solutions that will help you overcome the problem.
Fix 1: Reseat Your Computer’s RAM / Disable XMP Profile In BIOS
Many users who managed to fix this issue reported the cause was the RAM.
Now when it comes to RAM, there are a few things that can cause your PC to go through a blue screen of death. These include different timings of the sticks, improper installation, frequencies that don’t match, and more.
One of the main reasons you should always use only identical RAM sticks in all slots is because a minor difference in their timings or frequency can cause a worrying problem, such as the Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap error.
So, although it requires a lot of troubleshooting and patience, this specific method is the most likely to help find the problem’s cause. Here’s what we recommend you do, step by step.
RAM Sticks Compatibility Troubleshooting
Check your RAM sticks to see if they’re identical. You can do this by inspecting them visually, but if you cannot spot a difference, uninstall them and read the sticker to compare the information.
Other ways to check are by viewing the warranty paper you received from the store. If you ordered online, check the confirmation page, as it should include the details of all hardware components you’ve purchased.
RAM sticks have to be installed in pairs. So, for example, if you originally had two of them installed in the first and third slot on your motherboard, then you’ve bought two more to upgrade the total RAM of your PC and installed them in the second and fourth slot, start by uninstalling one of the two pairs, either 1 and 3, or 2 and 4.
Run your PC with only two identical RAM sticks installed in the second and fourth slots.
If you continue to have the error, put the other set in the first and third slots and try your PC again. If you still have a problem, it means that the two pairs of RAM sticks don’t work together.
That can also happen on motherboards with only two RAM slots. Test your PC with one of the sticks, then test it with both. If you only get the error with two installed RAM sticks, it likely means they aren’t compatible.
Now, if it turns out that RAM incompatibility is the problem, the optimal decision is to purchase two RAM sticks identical to either your first or second pair.
However, if you cannot do this at the moment but want to solve the problem without eliminating one of the two pairs, the best way to do that is by disabling the XMP profile in your BIOS. This will allow you to keep the same amount of total RAM but sacrifice speed and performance.
Disabling XMP Profile In BIOS
Your Extreme Memory Profile, or XMP Profile, is used to “boost” your RAM sticks’ frequency and timings for higher performance. This setting should always be enabled as there aren’t any downsides, and the benefit is a faster PC.
However, if you experience issues such as the Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap error, disabling XMP in your BIOS can help fix the problem.
Note: Although this is a potential solution, we still recommend purchasing identical RAM sticks for all your motherboard slots, and then overclocking them with the XMP profile, as that will provide your system with the best performance and stability.
So, to disable XMP in BIOS, you need to navigate to the memory section and set the XMP status to disabled.
Since there are many different BIOS interfaces, we cannot provide the exact steps for doing this, as your experience could be different.
However, it’s easy to search the internet with a simple phrase such as “disabling XMP profile in <motherboardmodel>” and get the tips you need to accomplish this.
Once you disable your XMP profile, the Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap error will no longer occur, but your computer won’t be getting the most out of your RAM’s potential. Use this as a temporary solution, and always ensure all your installed RAM sticks are from the same manufacturer and identical in their performance.
Fix 2: Reset BIOS Settings By Removing CMOS Battery
Sometimes, misconfigured BIOS settings cause the Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap error, or the problem is so frequent that you cannot even access your OS before the computer reboots. That is also known as a failed POST (Power-On Self-Test).
In such situations, one of the potential solutions is to fully reset the BIOS by removing the CMOS battery on your motherboard.
Here’s a helpful and informative video showing you how to do that.
Once again, if you wish to find a step-by-step guide for your specific motherboard, we recommend identifying the model and then looking it up with the exact name included.
Upon resetting the BIOS, you should be able to access your operating system without experiencing the error if the cause was misconfigured BIOS settings.
Fix 3: Boot PC Into Safe Mode / Remove Possible Faulty Drivers
There can be many reasons for the Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap error to occur, such as faulty drivers, damaged files, malware, and more.
Note: At this point, we presume that you have eliminated the possible RAM hardware compatibility problem. If you have not, encountering crashes while booting in Safe Mode can be even more perplexing since it becomes difficult to determine if the RAM or corrupted system files are causing the issue.
To ensure you have enough time to find the problem, we recommend booting your PC into Safe Mode where only the most important Windows features and drivers are enabled.
Then, you can simply use your PC for some time to see if the error occurs. If it doesn’t, it means it’s caused by malfunctioning software, because if it was faulty hardware your PC would crash even in safe mode.
Here’s how to enter Windows Safe Mode:
- Press Windows + I simultaneously on your keyboard to open the Settings panel. Click on Update & Security.
- Click Recovery, then under Advanced Startup, choose Restart Now.
- Your PC will restart and display a screen with options. Choose Troubleshoot, Advanced Options, Startup Settings, and finally, click on Restart.
- Your PC will restart again, and you’ll see a non-numbered list of options. “Enable Safe Mode” will be listed as the fourth option, so press the 4 number on your keyboard to choose it. Your PC will now reboot into Safe Mode.
If you still experience errors outside of Safe Mode, begin the troubleshooting by uninstalling potentially faulty drivers while in Safe Mode.
Think of what you installed last on your PC before the error introduced itself. It could be audio drivers or third-party software for a peripheral. Uninstall things one by one until you notice that the error no longer occurs. Unfortunately, this is a lengthy process.
If you experience a blue screen error even in safe mode, it could mean that the frequent crashes managed to corrupt critical system files on your PC, in which case you’ll have to perform a clean Windows reinstall.
Read the next section for more information on that.
Fix 4: Perform A Clean Windows Reinstall
Both hardware and software issues can cause your PC to crash, and even if you find and fix the problem, the previous, frequent crashes can lead to a different issue, such as files on your system becoming corrupt.
That will make your operating system crash whenever you start the PC, so unfortunately, the only solution here is to reinstall Windows.
That’s all you should know about the Unexpected Kernel Mode Trap error that many Windows users have reported in the past.
Although difficult to deal with, this BSOD error can be easily fixed by following the methods listed in this guide. Remember, the most likely cause is the RAM, but there are other cases where a faulty driver or corrupt system files cause it.