DPC Watchdog Violation Fix Steps

How to fix a DPC Watchdog Violation Error

A DPC watchdog violation error and be fixed with these steps with screenshots (and a cartoon!). This error relates to device driver problems. It can be scary as it is accompanied by a blue screen of death, BSoD. As this can be a very frustrating error, I thought you could do with a little cheering up – hence the cartoon. Anyhow in this article we resolve the watchdog violation in a step-by-step way so you can easily follow along. Read on below and good luck with your fix.

Most people welcome a little light-heartedness during times of stress. Please just ignore the cartoon if you’re not in the mood, I understand. So here is the DPC Watchdog Violation cartoon I told (warned) you about!

DPC Watchdog Violation

“SUDDENLY THE DPC WATCHDOG SENSED THE VIOLATION”   (Note: You may use this image on your website on the condition that the copyright message is unaltered and that a follow link is provided to the source image on this page or TheTechMentor.com home page)

Introduction to How to fix the DPC Watchdog Violation Error:

DPC in this application stands for deferred procedure call. You know you have the DPC Watchdog Violation Error (I’ve also seen it written DPC_Watchdog_Error) when you get what looks like a blue screen of death as shown below. Yours may look a little different! I suggest you bookmark or add this page to your favorites, as you will need to close this window at some stage during the process, and you will likely want to return to these instructions later so you can continue to follow to finish the process.

What the DPC Watchdog Violation Error Looks Like:

DPC Watchdog Violation - DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION error appearance

DPC Watchdog Violation -Blue Screen of Death

I hope I have brought you a little light in what might otherwise have been a very dark day, so to speak, and that you had a little giggle so now we can get down to serious business.

Problem Description:

On boot or sometimes right in the middle of something, the dreaded blue-screen-of-death appears and you are halted from your tasks. You get the error as shown above (or similar). Your PC, laptop or tablet quickly counts down to a reboot in 5 seconds. You can’t get your computer running or whatever you were working on is lost. Hopefully your files are recoverable to some degree depending on auto saves and so on. A few heated words later and you’re back up and running and surfing the internet to find TheTechMentor.com to help you out.

How to Fix DPC Watchdog Violation Error Step-by-step:

Here are the detailed step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Open Device Manager

The first step is to open Device Manager, by following one of the methods that follow.

There are a few ways you can open the Device Manager, depending on your version of Windows (be it Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 8 or Windows 10). An easy way is to click on Cortana or the search interface in the Task Bar when you are running Windows 10.

DPC Watchdog Violation -Ask Cortana

Then start typing the letters to spell out Device Manager. You can watch as you type because several suggested search item results will pop up. It is likely within 3 characters as you type these will narrow down to the Device Manager. See the screen capture below:

Exactly what displays may depend on your PC, Laptop or tablet. Keep typing enough until you see the Device Manager option come up, and then click on it.

DPC Watchdog Violation - search for DEVICE MANAGER

This is cool in Windows 10 on a Surface Pro: If you have Cortana operating with voice recognition you can click on the microphone icon (circled in the screen shot below) next to the search entry box and say “Device Manager”.

DPC Watchdog Violation Error- click Mic

If you don’t see the Device Manager window, it might be behind some of your other open applications if you haven’t recommenced this process immediately after a restart. Minimize any other open applications until you see the Device Manager window (a screen copy is shown within step 2).

Alternatively you can look for the Device Manager icon in the task bar, and click on it (the icon may look something like the one circled in the screen copy below).

DPC Watchdog Violation-Device Manger Icon

Important Note:

The fact is you will need to restart your computer towards the end of this process, so now would be a great time to save and close all working files and close any applications.

Step 2: As per the screen shot below look for the Drive (IDE ATA/ATAPI/SSD) Controllers

Search down the list for the Drive (IDE ATA/ATAPI/SSD) Controllers. Click on the little grey side arrow to the left of it, to see what is inside it. Or you can just double-click on the word itself. Whether or not the drive is/is not an SSD (Solid State Drive), I’m sure you get the idea if you have one in your machine. So remember yours may look a little different.

DPC Watchdog Violation -Device-Manager-Window


Step 3 Find the SATA / Disk / SSD Controller (on the basis that this has the Driver problem)

Find an item that has a name of something which indicates it is the ATA or SATA AHCI Disk Controller (under IDE ATA/ATAPI controller heading). Mine is highlighted in the screen shot below to give you an example.


Step 4: Open your Disk Controller and Update it

Double click to open your disk controller. Alternatively you can right click and select ‘Properties’.

It is one that often amuses me, that typically it will say under the General tab something like “this device is working properly”. I usually have my doubts about this!

As per the screen below, shot click on the Driver tab, then click ‘Update Driver’. One good thing to note at this point is the button beneath ‘Update Driver’ is the ‘Roll Back Driver’ button which is greyed-out now. It becomes active after you have changed the driver. This means it is likely you will ability to roll back the driver after you have changed it, if there is a problem like the device fails.

DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION -Driver Property Window

You are given two choices on how to search for the driver to update:

  • Search automatically for updated driver software, and
  • Browse my computer for driver software.

Click the latter (Browse my computer for driver software). Then select ‘Let me pick from a list of drivers on my computer’.

There you will see your original driver and a ‘Standard SATA AHCI Controller’. Select it and click ‘Next’. This will trigger the install process and you’ll (briefly) see the progress bar indicator. It will tell you it has successfully achieved the install, and that you must restart your computer, laptop or tablet before the installed hardware can work.

Step 5: Restart Your Computer

Close the above-mentioned message and the Controller Properties window, and you’ll see a prompt to restart your computer now. Click ‘Yes’.

Reminder – Don’t forget:

Don’t forget you have the opportunity to ‘Roll Back Driver’ should not everything have quite gone to plan, for example if you still get a watchdog violation. Just repeat the above actions of Step 1 through to the first part of Step 4 until you see the Device Driver Properties window again. Then click ‘Roll Back Driver’ and try an alternative method.


I’ve mentioned Solid State drives above and also presented screenshots for a traditional disk platter HDD. IF you’re not sure which you have, you can check the size and, at the time of writing, if your drive has capacity more than 256 Gb then it would make sense that it is a traditional hard drive.

More for How to Fix DPC Watchdog Violation Error

Additionally if the above did not work for you, or there still seems to be some kind of issue that the above did not solve – in other words you continue to get the DPC Watchdog Violation Error – you can take a broad-brush approach and update ALL the drivers.

Alternative Method to Fix DPC Watchdog Violation Error

Instead of changing a single driver, you can update all the drivers. I have left this procedure until now because it requires you to download and install third party software. On the positive side, an advantage is that it can save you hours of searching the internet for specific drivers for your Hard Drive device.

They also report great customer support, so while that can be somewhat subjective, it is promising!

Step 1: Use this Driver Software

Driver Reviver is software developed by Driver Soft. Click this link to navigate to the Driversoft website: Get Driver Software.

Step 2: Install and run Driver Checking Software

You’ll see the progress indicator bar as it scans your PC. With an unregistered version it will show you any drivers that it has identified as not being up to date. You can select driver items to update if you wish to only update specific drivers.

If you know for sure which driver has been causing the DPC Watchdog Violation error blue screen of death message, then you can just select that specific device driver.

Step 3: Update Drivers

If you are prepared to, then go ahead and update any or all of the drivers you have selected.

Step 4: Restart Your Computer

Again you may be prompted or wish to restart your computer, laptop, or tablet for these changes to take effect.

Further Troubleshooting of Watchdog Violation

One further thing I’d like to say to complete this guide to solve a DPC Watchdog Violation problem, is that I’ve seen some comments on forums relating to bugs in the BIOS of USB devices. These cause an issue during attempted (and automatic) installation of a driver for the device (due to the automatic plug and play operation).

This then causes the DPC watchdog to flag the error. If this sounds like your kind of problem and the above steps haven’t helped, then there is one more thing you should try when you see it. I write ‘one more thing’ but actually you will understand it could be very involved with numerous steps of which it is important to keep track. It is for this reason I have left this method to last.

It’ll probably help to work out an option for each USB component and follow along while keeping track of which device you have applied it to, and which device you haven’t.

Final Method for How to Fix DPC Watchdog Violation Error

Since this method is based on USB devices as being the source of the DPC violation, you can try running your machine without each USB device in turn for a period. Naturally you may want to source an alternative for each device in turn (borrow from a friend or colleague perhaps) or perhaps you can operate without certain devices – depending on their function. Ask yourself ‘is there an alternative way to connect this device?’ or ‘where can get an alternative device altogether?’ I appreciate this might be difficult depending on the device – but as I say, it’s worth a try.

The idea is to run your computer, laptop or tablet just as you other-wise would and monitor the performance. What you are looking for is DPC Watchdog error-free operation.

Your options should you find a particular arrangement gives you error-free operation include:

  • to continue that way (without the now detached USB device),
  • to try an alternative such device, (and if you borrowed one, source something similar or perhaps exactly the same)
  • to update the firmware on the device (if this is possible)
  • return the device for replacement (if it is within its warranty period)

If you are lucky, you do not have a lot of USB devices normally connected to your machine. This will mean there aren’t many combinations to test. If you do have a lot of USB devices, then I suggest testing the easiest ones first . You could be lucky if one of the first ones you test gives you that DPC watchdog error-free operation we are looking for. Phew and well done!

Summary of How to Fix a DPC Watchdog Violation Error.

This article shows you how to fix the DPC Watchdog Violation Error, using screenshots to show step-by-step instructions. The error can also appear as ‘DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION’. Several different methods to fix the error are presented, along with some further troubleshooting. You will now understand this watchdog violation depends on device drivers. Has this article helped you? Please feel free to share this article with colleagues, friends and family if you have been successful. Sharing is caring as they say!

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