DPC Watchdog Violation: How to Fix This Windows Error - Make Tech Easier

[maketecheasier.com] 2 weeks ago

Nothing can interrupt your Windows experience and lower productivity like constantly running into the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). This error comes in many forms, but one that many Windows users are bound to run into is the "DPC Watchdog Violation" error. This guide looks into what it is and how you can fix it.

Good to know: check out our post detailing the most common Windows problems and their respective solutions.


What Is a DPC Watchdog Violation?

In a nutshell, Deferred Procedure Calls (DPCs) are mechanisms used by Windows to prioritize high-priority tasks over low-priority ones. Basically, they stop low-priority tasks from running by delaying their execution to a later time. This allows high-priority tasks to run uninterrupted, as they don't have to compete with non-critical tasks for resources.

The DPC Watchdog is a utility that keeps an eye out for unresponsive programs. If it ever becomes overwhelmed, it can lead to the "DPC Watchdog Violation" BSOD. The error is usually accompanied by the 0x00000133 stop code .

While so many things can cause this to happen, the most common are hardware and software conflicts. For example, the issue may manifest after you plug in a piece of hardware or install new software.

Quick Solutions to Fix the Watchdog Violation Error

To start troubleshooting the error, first try the following quick solutions:

  • Fix your systems files: many BSoD errors are the result of corrupt or damaged systems files, and the "DPC Watchdog Violation" error is no exception. Luckily, if that's the case, you can easily fix the issue using the System File Checker (SFC).
  • Fix any faults with your disk drive: if the drive on your computer has encountered a problem, such as faulty sectors or corrupted volumes, it can lead to the error in question. To fix them, run a CHKDSK scan.
  • Use a system restore point: if you created a system restore point when your computer was in working condition, using it can get rid of the BSoD. Use this method if you don't want to devote a lot of time looking into this error.

Tip: have you noticed high CPU usage on your computer? The Shell Infrastructure Host process could be to blame.

1. Resolve Any Hardware and Software Conflicts

Sometimes, hardware that has been previously functioning well or was recently installed may experience malfunctions, leading to potential conflicts within your system. If Windows fails to resolve the conflicts on its own, it can crash and display the "DPC Watchdog Violation" error.

To fix this, try unplugging all the external hardware on your computer, then restart your PC, and see if the error goes away. If it does, try replugging them in, one by one, to see which one triggers the BSOD.

If the problem is not hardware-related, maybe software is to blame. If you recently installed new software, such as an app or a driver, try uninstalling it to see whether the error reappears. If that fixes the error, it could mean that the software was conflicting with some aspect of your computer.

Tip: if you're dealing with folders randomly reverting to Read-only in Windows, learn how to handle the issue.

2. Switch the SATA AHCI Controller's Driver

When the SATA AHCI controller on your computer runs into a driver issue, it can cause the "DCP Watchdog Violation" error. To fix this, try switching the driver manually to see if that helps.

Press Win + I to open Windows Run, enter devmgmt.msc in the text box, and click "OK" to launch Device Manager.

Opening Device Manager from Run window.

Expand the "IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers" section, right-click on your SATA AHCI controller, and select "Properties."

Selecting the "Properties" option for SATA Controller in Device Manager.

Select the "Driver" tab, then click on "Driver Details."

Clicking the "Driver Details" option In SATA Controller Properties.

If the driver listed on the controller is "storahci.sys" instead of "iaStorA.sys," that could be the source of the problem.

The Driver Details For Sata Controller On Windows

To fix that, go back to the "Driver" tab, and click "Update Driver."

Clicking the "Update Driver" option in SATA Controller Properties.

Click on "Browse my computer for drivers."

Choosing to "Browse computer for drivers" option when updating the SATA Controller driver.

Click on "Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer," followed by "Next."

Choosing to pick driver when updating a Windows driver option in "Update Drivers" window.

Select the "Standard SATA AHCI Controller" driver, and click "Next."

Clicking the "Standard SATA AHCI Controller" on Windows.

After Windows finishes installing the driver, click "Close."

Finished installing SATA driver on Windows.

Afterward, restart your computer to see whether that fixed the "DCP Watchdog Violation" error.

FYI: need to remove a user profile from your PC? Learn how to delete it from Windows.

3. Troubleshoot Your Computer's SSD

If the problem appeared after you installed a solid-state drive (SSD) on your computer, it could be due to a driver issue. To fix this, open Device Manager, as shown in the previous section, and expand the "Disk drives" section. Then, right-click your SSD, and select "Update driver."

Clicking the option to update driver for disk drive on Windows.

Select "Search automatically for drivers," and let Windows find and install the latest drivers.

Searching for drivers automatically on Windows.

Restart your computer, and hopefully, the error won't show up again. If that doesn't work, then perhaps the SSD is outdated or the firmware is buggy. To fix this, take note of the SSD's model number, which you can get from Device Manager.

Clicking on SSD in Device Manager.

Go to the manufacturer's website, and look for a firmware update. If you find one, download and install it.

4. Reset Your Windows Computer

If you're here, then it is the end of the road, and you need to take a more drastic approach. It could just be that some vital components of Windows have suffered corruption beyond repair. You may need to factory reset your Windows PC to fix the issue. Hopefully, you will be able to back up all your important data before the reset.

FYI: this is how to reset Windows Update components to fix a problematic Windows update.

Stop the DPC Watchdog Violation BSOD

The "DPC Watchdog Violation" error happens when the DCP Watchdog goes into timeout. By troubleshooting the hardware and software responsibly, you can get rid of the problem. If you run into more BSODs along the way or just want to prepare for them in the future, learn the best ways to fix BSODs on Windows. Also, check the specific solutions for the "Bad system config" error by referring to our dedicated post.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Chifundo Kasiya.

Chifundo Kasiya

Chifundo Kasiya

Chifundo is a tech writer who loves all things computers and gaming. He has been a freelancer writer for over 10 years and loves tackling complex topics so he can break them down for everyone to understand. He is also an artist, game programmer, and amateur philosopher. As a tech writer for MTE, he focuses mainly on Windows.

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