The reference by pointer BSOD error in your Windows 10 might sound unusual but it has started haunting several users recently. While there’s no concrete reason that leads to this error, bugs, malware, corrupt Windows update, graphics drivers, etc. are claimed to be the main culprits.
Read on as we discuss the most common causes of the error and explore the top 13 ways to solve it.
What Causes The “Reference By Pointer” BSOD Error In Windows 10?
If you’re wondering what causes the reference by pointer BSOD error in your Windows 10/11, the issue is mostly associated with your device drivers or the system files.
The error message indicates the wrong count of references for running objects by Windows. This is another serious Blue Screen of Death error that freezes your Windows and leads to other operational issues. As you receive the BSOD error, it’s best to restart your PC which will clear its active memory.
If the system files and drivers are fine, the above error might be due to a bug present in your current software. At times, outdated graphic cards and network devices are also associated with causing this error. Besides them, failing hardware can also lead to the reference by pointer BSOD error.
How To Fix The Reference By Pointer BSoD Error In Windows 10/11?
After identifying the potential cause of the reference by pointer BSoD error, you can try the following fixes to treat the error and protect your PC.
- Switch To Safe Mode
- Scan For Malware
- Temporarily Disable Your Antivirus
- Update Your Windows
- Clean Boot Your Computer Or Remove Problematic Software
- Update Outdated Or Corrupt Graphic Drivers
- Use The System File Checker (SFC) Utility
- Run Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM.exe) Command
- Check If Your PC Is Overheating
- Check Your Hardware
- Recover Data And Reinstall Windows
- Roll Back A Recently Installed Driver Or System Update
- Run The Memory Diagnostics Tool
Let’s discuss each of these solutions in detail below.
1. Switch To Safe Mode
Before trying any other fix, we recommend switching to the Safe Mode. This can be easily done with the following steps.
- Turn on your PC and wait for the Windows logo on the screen to appear.
- Select and hold the Power button for a few seconds.
- It will force reboot your PC.
- Repeat the above steps at least twice.
Once you complete these steps, Windows will boot into the Automatic Repair mode as a result of failed attempts of booting. Once you reach the Automatic Repair menu, follow the steps mentioned below.
- Select the Advanced Option.
- Select Troubleshoot.
- Again, select Advanced Options.
- Click on the Startup Setting option.
- Then, click on the Restart option on the right-bottom side of your screen.
After this, you need to select the Safe Mode Boot-up with the help of your number keys or function keys (F1-F9) on your keyboard. There’ll be the following options with the number:
- Enable debugging
- Enable booting logging
- Enable low-resolution video
- Enable Safe Mode
- Enable Safe Mode with Networking
- Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt
- Disable driver signature enforcement
- Disable early launch anti-malware protection
- Disable automatic restart after failure
Select among 4, 5, and 6 options. And after that, the Window will start booting up with your choice of Safe Mode.
Check if the reference by pointer issue gets resolved after this or not. If not, scan your PC for potential malware.
2. Scan For Malware
Malware or viruses might be another reason behind the appearance of the reference by pointer error on your PC. To avoid this, you’d always scan the entire system for malware. This can be done by following the steps mentioned below.
- To open the Settings app, use the Windows + I keys.
- Click on the Update and Security option among other options on the screen.
- Click on the Windows Security.
- There’ll be a Protection Areas section, where you see the Virus and Threat Protection option, click on that.
- A pop-up on the screen will appear. Click on the Run a New Advanced Scan option.
- Select the Full Scan option.
- Then, click on Scan Now to start the scanning process immediately.
- Close all the onscreen prompts and then, Restart the PC.
The issue must be resolved by now. If not, let’s temporarily disable your AV.
3. Temporarily Disable Your Antivirus Software
If a thorough scan of your system reveals no virus or malware attack, most probably, the reference by pointer issue might be with your third-party or pre-installed antivirus program.
Rarely but sometimes, the antivirus program interferes with the functioning of your computer. In such a case, you should try temporarily disabling the antivirus.
If this method doesn’t solve the BSOD error, you can again enable the antivirus and try other fixes.
Tip: Keep in mind to disable both third-party and pre-installed antivirus to be more accurate.
4. Update Your Windows
Microsoft releases frequent updates to fix any present issues or bugs. Hence, it’s recommended to keep your Windows updated to avoid any errors including BSOD. For this, follow the steps mentioned below:
- Open the Setting App by pressing Windows + I.
- Select Update and Security.
- Click on Windows Update.
- Select Check for Updates.
After this, Windows will start looking for any available update, and you’ll see a prompt on the screen.
To install the new updates, restart the system.
Tip: Enable automatic updates to avoid manual installation.
5. Clean Boot Your Computer Or Remove Problematic Software
You must have downloaded several third-party programs on your system. To your surprise, they can also cause the reference by pointer BSOD error. Not only this, there can be some built-in software that might be the reason behind this error.
Therefore, clean boot your computer or remove that problematic software to solve the error.
Follow the step below to do this.
- Use Windows + R keys to open the Run box on your PC.
- Enter the command –
msConfigand hit the Enter key. This command opens the System Configuration.
- Select the Service tab.
- Check Hide all Microsoft Services.
- Click on the ‘Disable All’ option.
- Select the Startup tab.
- Click on the Task Manager option.
- Choose a particular program and click on Disable.
- Repeat the above steps with all third-party or problematic programs on your PC.
- Go back to the System Configuration Window.
- Click on Apply and then OK.
After this, restart your PC and check if the error is fixed.
If this method fails to solve the reference by pointer error, it means no pre-installed software has to do anything with it. Thus, you can try other fixes.
6. Update Outdated Or Corrupt Graphic Drivers
As discussed under the causes of reference by pointer BSOD error, your outdated or corrupt graphics drivers might also cause this stop code error. Hence, you should keep your graphic drivers updated. Especially if you’ve got AMD drivers.
To update your graphics drivers, follow the steps mentioned below.
- Click on the Start button at the bottom-left corner of the screen. Or press the Windows key.
- Type device manager and hit the Enter key to open the Device Manager.
- Double-click on Display Adapters.
- Right-click on the Graphics Drivers. A menu will appear.
- Click on Update Drivers.
- Click on the Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software option.
Restart your PC to install the updates.
7. Use The System File Checker (SFC) Utility
If some particular files in your system are broken or missing, then also the reference by pointer error can haunt you. With help of the built-in System File Checker utility, you can replace these files with cached copies and repair them.
To use this built-in tool, use the steps mentioned below.
- Open the search bar and type cmd. You’ll find the Command Prompt option at the top.
- Right-click on it and select the Run as Administrator option.
- Click on Yes on the required administrative privilege Window that will appear on the screen.
- Next, type
scannowcommand and press the Enter key on the keyboard.
The System File Checker tool will scan your system for broken or missing files. Once found, it’ll automatically replace or repair them.
8. Run Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM.exe) Command
Sometimes, the reference by pointer error comes up after updating your computer to Windows 10. If you have tried SFC scan and were unable to solve the issue, there are high chances that Windows image files got corrupted during the process.
These faulty image files can be easily treated with the help of the DISM command.
To run this command, follow the steps below.
- Write cmd in the search box and hit the Enter key. The Command Prompt will open.
- Execute the DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth command.
- Reboot your Windows once this process of scanning is completed.
After rebooting, check if the error is fixed or not.
9. Check If Your PC Is Overheating
In most cases, it’s the high temperatures of the PC that lead to the reference by pointer BSOD error. There are chances of your computer crashing down if the CPU temperature goes extremely high. Therefore, you should immediately check if your PC is overheating once you receive this error.
You can take the help of any popular CPU temperature monitor to check the temperature of the CPU. And if it is overheating, you can try the following ways to cool it down.
- Clean Dust from your PC. This has proven to be effective.
- Disconnect it completely from any power source.
- Use pressurized air for cleaning the components.
10. Check Your Hardware
Yes, the BSoD error can also arise due to a problem in your hardware. Hence, you’d always check your hardware once you receive this error on the screen. Especially if you have recently added new hardware, you should remove it and check if the error is fixed.
And if the issue is fixed, keep the hardware removed only and replace it with another one. You can also try to contact the manufacturer and discuss this issue with them.
11. Recover Data And Reinstall Windows
In case your window is stuck with the reference by pointer error and there is no way you can have access to Windows Desktop, reinstall Windows. As with reinstalling all of your data will be gone, make sure to recover the important data first.
For recovering data, any third-party tool is recommended.
For example, the MiniTool Partition Wizard tool will be helpful in such a scenario.
Follow the steps mentioned below for the complete process.
- Install the MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro Ultimate and launch it. This needs to be done on another working computer.
- Now, connect a blank USB drive to this computer. On the main interface, click on the Bootable Media option.
- Select the WinPE-based media with the MiniTool plug-in that is on the next page.
- You need to create a bootable USB drive, and for this, click on USB Flash Drive.
- Disconnect this USB drive once the burning process is completed. And reconnect to the computer with the BSoD error.
- Set the USB drive as the first boot option in BIOS and boot the PC.
- Once this tool is loaded, select the Data Recovery module in the main interface.
- Click on scan after choosing the partition with important data.
- After the full scanning process is done, select the files and folders that you want to be restored and click on SAVE.
After this, the data will be restored and you can continue with your Window reinstallation process.
Check if this method solves your problem. If not, head to the next solution.
12. Roll Back A Recently Installed Driver Or System Update
There is a possibility of a bug or introduction to your system if you have recently updated your driver or have gone through a major system update. There’s an option of rolling back a driver on the window and uninstalling the recent updates that might be responsible for the error.
Follow the steps mentioned below to roll back a recently installed driver.
- Select the Device Manager after right-clicking on the Start menu.
- Find the device you’ve recently updated the driver of. Right-click on the device and click on the Properties options.
- Click on the Roll Back Driver option in the Properties window.
- After this, the recently installed driver will be removed and you’ll have the previous version.
- Now, restart your device by right-clicking on the Start menu.
- Click on Shut down and then Restart.
Follow the steps mentioned below to restore a system update.
- Select Settings from the Start menu.
- Click on Update and Security.
- Click on View Update History.
- Select Uninstall Updates.
- Click on Install Category to sort the updates by date.
- Here, you can see the latest update that might be causing the error, select it and then click on the Uninstall option.
- Restart your device by right-clicking on the Start menu.
- Click on shutdown and then Restart.
In case the uninstall option is not available for that system update, then it is essential and can’t be uninstalled by any process.
13. Run The Memory Diagnostics Tool
If you are facing this error, you can also run a memory check on your PC with the built-in tool known as Memory Diagnostic Tool in Windows 10. It will help you in checking the memory issues in your PC that might be causing this error.
The stop code reference by pointer BSOD error must have been fixed by now with the help of the above quick fixes. This error is very common in Windows 10 and is also known as the 0x00000018 error. You can easily identify this as your screen will go blue with a warning on it. And all of the above fixes are easy and can be done by anyone.
And if this error still exists, you need to get it checked with the professionals. In such a case, there might be some serious damage or issue with your software.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What causes BSoD?
BSOD, or Blue Screen of Death, is a type of stop code error that freezes Windows and gives rise to other problems if not rectified on time. It is caused by bugs in the system files or codes in Windows. Interestingly, it can be treated with a few fixes.
What does stop code mean in Windows?
What is a reference by pointer stop code?
This means that for the current state, the reference count of an object is not legal.