Driver irql_not_less_or_equal windows 10

The DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error is a common Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) error, occurs due to both hardware or software problems. This particular error indicates that a system process or driver attempted to access a memory address to which it did not have permission, or operating at incorrect interrupt request levels (IRQL). Here the IRQL is a mechanism used by the Windows operating system to manage hardware interrupts, and an attempt to access memory at an inappropriate IRQL can lead to system crashes. In short, the Installed Device driver is unable to communicate with the specific hardware device. This may be due To Driver conflict or incompatible Device driver, bad memory module, Corrupted system files, Security software, faulty hardware and more. This article explores a few potential solutions to troubleshoot and resolve Driver IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL error on Windows 11/10.


This error usually occurs when a kernel-mode driver establishes or uses an incorrect memory address while performing its function, it’s like a communication issue between your hardware and your processor. And most of the time this error is directly related to the network driver of the PC. Here are few Common Causes of driver irql not less or equal error.

  • Faulty or Outdated Device Drivers are One of the primary causes of this error. When a driver attempts to access improper memory addresses or performs incompatible operations, it can trigger this error.
  • Hardware Issues: Hardware problems, such as faulty RAM modules, incompatible hardware, or failing hard drives, can also lead to this error. Again Overclocking the CPU, GPU, or RAM beyond their recommended specifications can destabilize the system and lead to various errors.
  • Software Conflicts: Conflicts between newly installed software or drivers and existing system components can cause instability and trigger this error. Also installing incompatible or pirated software can lead to system instability and result in BSoD errors.
  • Malware Infections: Malware or viruses can corrupt system files, interfere with drivers, and lead to various system errors, including the DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error.
  • System File Corruption: Corrupted system files due to improper shutdowns, software glitches, or disk errors can contribute to this error.

Disconnect External Devices and Reboot

External devices like USB drives, printers, or external hard drives can sometimes conflict with system processes, causing error. Whenever you experience blue screen of death (BSOD) error disconnect all external devices and reboot windows. Disconnecting them removes potential sources of conflict and allows the system to boot without interference.

Boot into Safe Mode if Windows Restarts Frequently

Safe Mode allows the system to start with a minimal set of drivers and services, helping troubleshoot if the error is caused by third-party software or drivers. If due to this blue screen error system restarts frequently in normal mode, booting into Safe Mode can provide a stable environment for further investigation.

To start Windows in safe mode, you need to access Advanced options using installation media or from settings -> System  > Recovery next to Advanced startup, select Restart now.

If you are Windows 10 user, open the settings and select Update & Security  > Recovery. Under Advanced startup, select Restart now.

After your PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart.

Advanced options Windows 10

After your PC restarts, you’ll see a list of options. Press F4 to start your PC in Safe Mode. Or if you’ll need to use the internet, press F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.

safe mode Windows 10

Update Device drivers

Outdated or incompatible device drivers are a common cause of the “driver irql not less or equal” error. Updating drivers ensures that they are compatible with the operating system, resolving any known issues or conflicts that might trigger the error.

  • Press Windows Key + X and select Device Manager from the menu.
  • In Device Manager, expand the categories and right-click on the device you want to update.
  • Select “Update driver” and choose either “Search automatically for updated driver software” or “Browse my computer for driver software” to update the driver.

update graphics driver

In addition, you can Visit the manufacturer’s website of your device or component to download and install the latest driver updates. Alternatively, you can use third-party driver update software, such as Driver Booster or Driver Easy, to automatically scan for and update outdated drivers

Clean Install Your Network Driver

Since the error frequently relates to the system file “ndis.sys,” performing a clean install of the network adapter driver can address issues related to network connectivity. This helps ensure a stable connection and resolves conflicts associated with this system file.

  • Press Windows Key + X and select Device Manager from the menu.
  • Expand the “Network adapters” category, right-click on your network adapter, and select “Uninstall device.”

uninstall Wi-Fi adapter driver

Once the driver is uninstalled, visit the website of your network adapter’s manufacturer.

  • Download the latest driver compatible with your operating system.
  • Install the driver by double-clicking on the downloaded file and following the on-screen instructions.
  • Restart your computer to complete the installation process.

Uninstall Security Software And Recently Installed Applications

If updating and reinstalling the device driver didn’t fix “Driver irql_not_less_or_equal” BSOD then here are some other solutions you must try Such as temporarily uninstall Security software (Antivirus) if installed.

Also if you notice the problem started after installing a third-party application, (maybe this application is not compatible with the current OS version). We recommend uninstalling recently installed applications and check this helps.

  • To uninstall recently installed applications or Antivirus software
  • Press Windows + R, type appwiz.cpl and ok to open the Programs and Features window.
  • Here right-click on the recently installed application and select uninstall.

Check for Hardware Issues

Hardware problems, such as faulty RAM or disk errors, can cause BSoD errors. Running memory diagnostics and CHKDSK helps identify and repair hardware-related issues, ensuring system stability.

Run Memory Diagnostic tool:

  • Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog box, type “mdsched.exe,” and press Enter to run Windows Memory Diagnostic.
  • Choose between “Restart now and check for problems (recommended)” or “Check for problems the next time I start my computer.”
  • Your computer will restart, and the Memory Diagnostic tool will run automatically. It will display the results once the scan is complete.

Windows memory diagnostic tool

To scan and repair Disk errors:

  • Open the Command prompt as administrator then type chkdsk C: /f /r and hit the enter key.
  • You may receive a message stating that CHKDSK cannot run immediately and will ask if you want to schedule the disk check for the next restart. Type “Y” and press Enter.
  • Restart your computer to initiate the disk check. CHKDSK will scan your drive for errors and attempt to fix any it encounters during the process.

Run Check disk on Windows 10

Run System File Checker (SFC) and DISM

SFC and DISM tools scan for and repair corrupted system files, including the “ndis.sys” file associated with network connectivity. This resolves any issues with system files that could be contributing to the driver_irql_not_less_or_equal Windows 10.

  • Press the Windows Key and type “cmd” in the search bar. Right-click on “Command Prompt” in the search results and select “Run as administrator.”
  • To run SFC utility, type “sfc /scannow” and press Enter. Wait for the scan to complete 100%.
  • To run DISM command, type “DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth” and press Enter.
  • DISM will start scanning your system. This process may take a while, so be patient. Once the scan is complete, restart your computer.

SFC and DISM command

Check for Updates

Keeping the operating system and drivers up to date ensures compatibility and stability. Updates often include bug fixes and patches that address known issues, reducing the likelihood of encountering the error driver irql_less_or_not_equal.

  • Press Windows Key + I to open Settings.
  • Go to Update & Security > Windows Update.
  • Click on “Check for updates” and install any available updates.
  • Restart your computer if prompted to complete the update installation process.

Windows 11 update download

Perform a Virus/Malware Scan

Malware infections can interfere with system processes can also cause this error driver_irql_not_less_or_equal. Performing a full virus/malware scan helps detect and remove any malicious software, restoring system integrity and stability.

  • Use your installed antivirus software to perform a full system scan. If you don’t have one, consider using Windows Defender (Windows Security).
  • Open Windows Security, go to Virus & Threat Protection, and click on “Scan options.” Select “Full scan” and then click “Scan now.”
  • If any threats are detected, follow the recommended actions provided by the antivirus software to remove or quarantine them.

Reset Overclocking Settings

Overclocking components (CPU, GPU, or RAM) beyond their recommended specifications can lead to system instability and errors. Resetting overclocking settings eliminates potential sources of instability, reducing the occurrence of BSoD errors.

  • Restart your computer and enter the BIOS or UEFI settings (usually by pressing Del, F2, or another designated key during startup).
  • Locate the overclocking settings and reset them to their default values. This option is typically found in a menu labeled “Reset to default,” “Load optimized defaults,” or similar.
  • Save the changes and exit the BIOS/UEFI setup utility.

Perform System Restore

If applying All these solutions didn’t fix “Driver irql not less or equal” Blue screen error. Then Performing System restore is the ultimate solution. Which reverts back your system configuration to the previous working state where Windows working smoothly.

Perform System Restore

To Avoid driver irql_less_or_not_equal error, Always install trusted applications. Didn’t use Cracked, pirated software, Always perform (mostly every week) full system scan with the latest updated antivirus software. And make sure Windows has installed the latest patch updates.

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Steve Ballmer
With over 7 years of experience in the IT industry, I have experience in IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. Certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching.