Guide: 13 Ways to Fix “Kernel Security Check Failure”

Guide: 13 Ways to Fix “Kernel Security Check Failure”

/ Shayne Sherman

The Kernel Security Check Failure error is one of several errors that can cause infamous BSOD errors (Blue Screen Of Death). The kernel security check failure error means that certain data files are corrupt or has failed a compatibility check.

Sometimes the kernel security check failure error is caused by memory issues, malware and virus infections, corrupted system files or other problems.

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The most common reason you see the kernel security check failure error is a recent upgrade to Windows 10. Sometimes it’s an update that caused your system files to become corrupt to become incompatible with your operating system.

Fix 1: Reboot the Computer Into Safe Mode (and Create a Bootable USB drive)

To do many of the rest of the methods presented in this article you will need to be in Safe Mode so you can perform the suggested steps. In some cases, you may be able to restart the computer and get to a standard boot screen, allowing you to access Safe Mode before the kernel security check failure BSOD appears again.

If that doesn’t fix the kernel security check errors, hopefully, you can use a USB drive to boot into Safe Mode. Many of the ways in that article are safer and should be performed if possible.

However, in some cases, you may not have a bootable USB or be able to use any of the other methods to get to Safe Mode except for a hard reboot. If this is the case, the following steps walk you through how to hard reboot Windows 10.

Read our guide on various ways on how you can boot your Windows 10 computer into safe mode.

Step #1

At this point, you should create a USB recovery drive so that you can use it to enable Safe Mode.

The easiest way to do this is from another computer.

If you do not have another computer, and you want to try creating the USB with the computer you are fixing, you must get into Safe Mode with Networking.

To reboot in Safe Mode with Networking, press the [Windows] and [R] keys together.

Then, type “msconfig” into the box without the quotation marks and press enter.


Step #2

A new pop-up window will appear, click the “Boot” tab. Under the Boot options subheading, click “Safe boot” and then make sure the box next to “Network” is marked.

Finally, click “Apply” and “OK.”

A new window will appear asking you if you want to “Restart” immediately or “Exit without restart,” select restart immediately.

(Note: You will need to undo these changes to restart your computer.)

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Step #3

If you see the kernel security check error message when you reboot into Safe Mode with Networking, you will need to create the bootable USB drive on another computer.

Step #4

To create your bootable USB (on any computer), you must first find out which version of Windows you are using and whether it is an x32 bit or x64 bit.

You can learn this by typing “System Information” into the Start Menu and choosing that option.

You will also need to find out which language your version of Windows is using if you don’t already know.

Type “Region and language” into the Start Menu and select that option to see this information.

You must reinstall the same version of Windows that you already have, including the same language option.

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Step #5

After you have determined what Operating System you are using and what type of system it is running on, go to our guide on how to create a bootable Windows 10 USB.

Step #6

Now, you need to back up all your files on your computer. To do this, insert another USB for the backup and type “Control Panel” into the Start Menu simply press enter.

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Step #7

Under “System and Security” (in category view), click on “Backup and Restore (Windows7).”

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Step #8

On the left of the screen, you will see “Create a system image” Click on that.

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Step #9

This will bring up the on screen instructions asking you where you want the backup to be stored.

Choose “On a hard disk” and then select an adequately formatted USB that is large enough to store your files.

The USB must already be inserted before you get to this screen for the system to recognize it.

After selecting the correct drive in the on screen instructions, click “Next” and then confirm your choice by clicking “Start backup.” It can take some time for files to backup. Be patient, although this is a long process, it is certainly necessary to fix the kernel security check failure error.

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Fix 2: Uninstall Programs

The first thing you should do to get rid of the kernel security check failure error from your computer, once you have successfully entered Safe Mode is to uninstall any apps or programs you have recently installed.

Recent changes to your computer might have caused a software incompatibility issue that led to the kernel security check failure BSOD. As Windows users, it is also a good idea to learn how to remove any software you don’t use.

Step #1

To uninstall programs, open the Start menu and type “Control Panel” and hit enter on your keyboard without the quotations into it.

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Step #2

Click “Uninstall a Program.”

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Step #3

On the list that populates, find the program you wish to uninstall and click it.

Then click Uninstall/Change and read the on screen instructions and confirm that you want to uninstall it.

Repeat this step until all the applications you want to uninstall have been removed.

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Step #4

When you finish uninstalling the programs, click the Windows button and select restart to reboot your computer to see if the kernel security check failure blue screen error has been resolved.

If it has not been resolved, you will need to use the USB you created to access Safe Mode and try some of the remaining options to resolve the kernel security check failure error.

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Fix 3: Stop Overclocking

If you don’t know what overclocking is, you can skip this step. There are relatively few processors that can handle overclocking. This is especially true if you do not make cooling modifications.

If you have downloaded any overclocking software, go back to method #3 and remove it. If you have made any modifications in your BIOS, go back into the BIOS and set them back to factory standards. Once you have disabled any overclocking, restart your computer and check if that was able to fix kernel security check failure.

Fix 4: Update Windows

As Windows users, it is essential to keep Windows 10 updated to keep it running correctly. In some cases, a faulty update may cause the kernel security check failure error, but a more recent update resolves the issue. To update Windows 10 manually, follow these steps.

Step #1

Click on the “Settings” icon in the Start Menu.

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Step #2

In the Settings window, choose “Updates & Security.”

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Step #3

Choose “Windows Update” from the list that appears on the right. On the left, click the button that says, “Check for updates” and read the on screen instructions if updates are available.

You can find it under “Update status.”

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Step #4

If updates are waiting to be installed, you must restart your computer before they go into effect. To do this, click on the Start menu “Power” icon and select “Restart.”

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Continue if you still have problems with a kernel security check failure blue screen.

Fix 5: Update or Disable Windows Defender

If you are running a third-party antivirus at the same time the Defender is running, this can easily cause the Kernel Security Check Failure BSOD errors.

Here’s a guide on how to deactivate Windows Defender.

If you still have the issue even with the built-in antivirus tool off, you should check if the third-party antivirus is causing the kernel security check failure blue screen error by interfering with other aspects of Windows.

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Keep in mind that each antivirus is different; these instructions are general and not meant to be specific for your third-party antivirus program.

Visit your antivirus’ website to get specific instructions on how to update or uninstall your antivirus. You will need to be in Safe Mode with Networking (as described in method 2) to update your antivirus software.

Step #1

Open Defenderby double clicking on the shield icon on the system tray.

Step #2

Once you have Defenderopen, click on scroll down to Virus & threat protection updates and click “Check for updates”

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Make sure you have one antivirus running on your computer at all times.

Fix 6: Run the System File Checker Tool Scan for Corrupt Files

The more files are used, the more likely they are to become corrupt and create the Kernel Security Check Failure blue screen error. You can use the System File Checker tool (SFC) that is built into Windows that can find and repair some corrupt files. You should run this system scan in Safe Mode.

Step #1

Once you have restarted in Safe Mode, press the [X] key and the [Windows] key together. On the menu that appears, select “Windows PowerShell (Admin).”

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Step #2

When the PowerShell opens, type in “sfc /scannow” or cut and paste the command without the quotation marks. Then, hit Enter on your keyboard.

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Step #3

After the system file check is complete (it could take some time), type “Repair-WindowsImage -RestoreHealth” (without the quotation marks) into the new prompt or copy and paste the command there.

Hit Enter when you are done. Again, it may take some time for the repair for any damaged file system to be fixed.

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Step #4

When file system check is finished, close the PowerShell window, and restart the computer and check if the kernel security check failure issue has been fixed.

Fix 7: Run the Windows Deployment Image Servicing Management (DISM) Tool

The DISM is a tool that can be launched through the command prompt and is used to scan and prepare damaged Windows images and virtual hard disks. Follow these steps to open command prompt and launch the DISM tool.

Step #1

In the Windows search bar, type in “cmd” and select Command Prompt in the results.

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Step #2

The command prompt window will open, type in “DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth” and then press “enter”.

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DISM utility will start scanning and fixing any errors. Once the file system scan is complete, you can close the command prompt and restart your PC to check if the issue has already been fixed.

Fix 8: Use File Explorer to Check for Corrupted Hard Disk Errors

File Explorer has another method of checking for hard disk errors. Here is how to run this scan:

Step #1

Type “File Explorer” into the Start Menu and open that option. Alternately, click the File Explorer icon in the Start Menu sidebar.


Step #2

Click on “This PC” in the sidebar and then right-click on the drive you want to check. This is usually the C: drive. On the drop-down menu that appears, pick “Properties.”

Navigate Windows Drive C

Step #3

Click the “Tools” tab and choose “Check” found under the Error-checking subheading.

Navigate windows properties

Step #4

When the process finishes (which can take some time), you will be given the option to fix any found errors automatically. If errors are fixed, restart your computer and check if the kernel security check failure BSOD error message has already been fixed.

Fix 9: Use Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool to Test RAM

The Windows Memory Diagnostics tool is an app used to identify memory problems that can cause problems with the Windows operating system. Here is how to use this app:

Step #1

Type “Windows Memory Diagnostic” into the search bar and select it.

Open Windows memory diagnostics

Step #2

In the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool pop-up window that appears, choose “Restart now and check for problems.”

Navigate WMD popup window

Step #3

Your computer will run a memory check to identify memory problems and restart.

The test can take a while, but it is crucial not to interrupt it.

When the computer finishes the test and is completely rebooted, type “event” into the Start menu and select “Event Viewer.”

Run Event Viewer

Step #4

On the left side of the window that opens, open the “Windows Logs” menu and click on “System” once.

Select Event Viewer: Windows logs

Step #5

Now, you need to click “System” again, but this time right-click, which will bring up another menu.

Choose “Filter current log.” You would be unable to select this option if you did not left-click “System” first.

Select Filter current log

Step #6

In the Filter Log window, click on the drop-down menu next to “Event sources.”

Scroll down until you find “MemoryDiagnostics-Results.” Place a checkmark in the box next to that and click “OK.”

Navigate Filter Current Log

Step #7

This will return you to the Event Viewer, where you should have about two “Events” listed in the filtered log.

Click each event and look at the information provided. If no errors are detected, go on to the next method.

You do not have issues with your RAM hardware. If you do see any memory problems in the memory diagnostic tool, you need to continue to Step #8.

Review multiple events

Step #8

If you have memory problems, the only way to fix it is to replace your RAM sticks. You can test each one by shutting down your computer and removing all the sticks except the one you are testing. Then you can reboot your computer and repeat steps #1-7.

Repeat this with all the sticks. Replace any RAMs that have memory problems. Be sure only to use factory-recommended RAM sticks for replacement. When you have replaced all the RAMs that have memory problems, check to see if the kernel security check failure error code is fixed.

Fix 10: Update Device Drivers

If you got the kernel security check failure error code after you have recently upgraded to Windows 10 or have not updated your device drivers in a while, this option will fix any problem you might be having with outdated drivers.

You can use the device manager to access all the drivers and update any driver automatically, but this method helps you pinpoint potentially faulty drivers quickly using an internal Windows 10 developer app.

If a simple update in the device manager does not work, you might want to try a fresh download, especially for the noted drivers. This will take longer, but should completely resolve the issue. If you’re ready, read our full and detailed guide on how you can update your drivers through the device manager.

Hopefully, the kernel security check failure blue screen error is resolved, but if it isn’t, there are more methods you can try.

Fix 11: Perform a System Restore

You already have to have manually created a system restore point before you began having a kernel security check failure BSOD error to do this method. This method will cause you to lose some of your information, but it should fix the error.

Here’s our post on how to turn the System Restore feature on and create a restore point.  Unfortunately, if you haven’t already created a restore point, you will need to skip this method.

Click here to read our guide on how you can perform a system restore.

Fix 12: Reset Your Computer

Resetting your computer to factory standards is one method of getting rid of the blue screen error, primarily if your Windows 10 computer worked well at one time and especially if you do not have a recovery restore point.

You will probably need to do this method in Safe Mode. Make sure you back up all the files on your computer first.

Read our guide on how you can properly reset your computer.

Fix 12: Perform a Clean Install From a USB Drive

If you want to perform the clean install from a flash drive, this is the method you need to follow. Please note, if you have Windows Enterprise version a or Windows Education version, this process will not work.

Stop and Do This Before You Continue!

  1. You will need an Internet connection, sufficient storage (16 GB is recommended), and a computer that meets Windows 10 system requirements.
  2. Make a backup of all your documents and files. These will all be lost during the process. You should also perform a separate system backup in case something goes wrong with the clean install.
  3. Make a copy of your recovery drive. Also backup any partitioned drives. All partitions and the data on them will be removed with a clean install.
  4. Create a Microsoft account (if you don’t already have one) and make sure your version of Windows and other installed Microsoft software is activated on that account. This makes it easier to maintain your product registration after you perform the clean install, especially if something goes wrong.
  5. A clean install deletes all apps that do not come with Windows. You might be surprised to find out that Office and manufacturer’s apps are no longer on your computer after the install, including manufacturer support apps. You will have to reinstall these apps manually after the clean install if you wish to keep them. Make sure you have copies of the software, licenses, and product registration keys.
  6. In addition to losing apps, you will probably lose your digital app content, digital licenses, and in some cases, you may no longer be able to use apps even if you paid for them. You need to visit manufacturer websites, even Microsoft’s Office website, and learn if it is possible to keep your license and how to do it through this process if you wish to maintain any of these.
  7. Make a note of the drivers you need for your hardware and download these on a flash drive in case you need to reinstall them later. You can do this by accessing the device manager, right-clicking each device, and looking at the properties for the driver name, manufacturer, and version. The drivers are available on the device maker’s website.
  8. If you are upgrading from an previous Windows versions, you should make sure your BIOS is set to compatibility mode or UEFI.
  9. After finishing all your backups and downloads, disconnect any external drives, hard drives, flash drives, etc. from your computer. During the installation process, only the flash drive with the Windows 10 installation software on it should be connected to the computer to prevent the installation from overwriting your backup information.

If you are have met all the prerequisites mentioned above, read through our guide on how you can perform a clean install on your computer.

Fix 14: Roll Back to a Previous Version of Windows

In some cases, your software or the apps you are running may not be compatible with Windows 10. The only way to get rid of the kernel security check failure error message may be to roll back to a older version of Windows.

Keep in mind; you only have ten days after an upgrade (as of the Windows 10 Creators Update) to roll your computer back to an previous Windows version of the operating system using this method.

Also, if you used disk cleanup to delete the C:Windows.old folder, or if you manually deleted it to free disk space (and the folder cannot be restored from your recycle bin), you will not be able to use this method and will be told you “can’t go back” when you attempt to do it.

If you created a recovery disk before upgrading or have the product key for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should always be able to use that to roll back your system.

This method will probably need to be performed in Safe Mode. Make sure everything is backed up on your computer before you start this process.

Step #1

Click on the “Settings” icon in the Start Menu.

Select Start Menu - Settings

Step #2

Now, choose “Update & Security” from the Settings window.

Select Windows Setting - Updates & Security

Step #3

Click “Recovery” on the left side of the “Updates & Security” window. If you can use this method, you will see a subheading on the right that says, “Go back to the previous version of Windows…

Click the “Get Started” button underneath that.

Restore Previous Windows

Step #4

You will see a screen telling you Windows is getting things ready for the rollback. Then, it will ask you why you want to return to an older version. You must choose a reason and click “Next.”

Navigate Windows Troubleshoot Survey

Step #4

Windows will ask if you want to check for updates to try to resolve the blue screen problem. Since you already did this in method 10, you can skip this step by clicking “No, thanks.”

Windows Update checking for updates

Step #5

Now you will see a screen informing you that you need to plug in your laptop (and leave a desktop plugged in throughout the process) and that you will need to reinstall apps as well as adjust settings when the computer finishes rolling back to the older version.

It will also ask if you have backed up everything (creating a file backup as well as a disk image backup on an external USB drive is recommended). Read the on screen instructions and click “Next” to confirm you know this and that you have made your backup drive.

Windows - What you need to know

Step #6

The next confirmation screen asks if you remember your old login information. If you forgot the password you used when you had the older version you are rolling back to, you will not be able to login to the computer after you perform the rollback.

If you do remember it, click “Next” and continue.

Windows - Dont get locked out

Step #7

Windows then thanks you for trying this version, and once again, ask you to confirm you want to rollback. Click “Go back to an earlier build” to continue the process.

You will then see a loading screen telling you that Windows is restoring the older version. This can take a long time (even a full day), so you have to be patient and fix the kernel security check failure error.

Windows Thank you message

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Kernel Security Check Failure?

Kernel Security Check Failure is a type of blue screen error that could indicate a virus infection on your hard drive, outdated or corrupted drivers, hard drive errors, and even corrupted system files.

How to fix the Kernel Security Check Failure?

The kernel security check failure error can be fixed by running Windows Defender to eliminate possible virus infections. Other solutions such as driver re-installation and running the SFC scan tool can also be viable.

Shayne Sherman
Meet the author

Shayne is an expert at all things Microsoft Windows and computer security. As a Windows user of over 30 years, he has been featured on Business Insider, Yahoo, Tech Republic, Hacker Noon, Techopedia, and many other publications. He also enjoys spending time with his family, including his English bulldog, Fergie as well as entertaining at his home theater.