Fixed Windows 10 error `kernel ntoskrnl.exe was missing or contained errors – 0xc0000221`

Our computer may well be our primary tool for work or play, so any glitch it causes us can be very frustrating. One of the errors that can occur when trying to start your computer is that the dreaded blue screen with error 0xc0000221 appears in Windows 10. The system will then crash during a continuous automatic repair attempt.

Usually, in this case, the blue screen message appears saying.

“Your computer needs to be repaired.
The operating system cannot be booted because the kernel is missing or contains errors.
Folder: WINDOWS system32 ntoskrnl.exe Error code: 0xc0000221. ”


What is the cause of error code 0xc0000221?

What is the cause of error code 0xc0000221?

After studying the problem and examining many different symptoms of the same error, we found several different culprits that could be the cause of error code 0xc0000221:

A hardware problem caused by a new RAM key or a new hard drive: Several cases have been reported where users have received this error after inserting a second RAM key or connecting a new slave hard drive.

Second GPU: The problem is sometimes reported on computers with SLI or CrossFire configurations.

Power supply fails to provide enough power: This behavior can occur if the power supply is not large enough to power all connected devices.

Damaged system file: An error code indicates a system problem with a corrupted file.

Third-party service interrupts startup: There are cases where the error was caused by a malicious third-party service that caused the BSOD to fail.


How to fix error code 0xc0000221?

How to fix error code 0xc0000221?

We have provided some troubleshooting steps to help you fix error code 0xc0000221. Below are a number of possible solutions to help you solve the problem. We recommend that you try the fixes in the order listed.

  • Run in safe mode.
  • Run SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM scan in that order.
  • Check the RAM for problems.
  • Remove the secondary GPU and external hard drives/SSD.
  • Perform a system restore.
  • Perform an installation to repair the Windows 10 operating system.

IMPORTANT: Whatever the cause, your priority should be to try to go into safe mode. If you can go into safe mode, that’s fine; if not, you’ll need to use the Windows installation media.

Start in safe mode

In secure mode, your computer boots in limited mode, with only the basic files and drivers needed for the boot process. If the computer boots correctly in safe mode, the problem was probably caused by previously installed software.

Here’s what you need to do to fix this error after successfully booting in Safe Mode:

  1. If you can’t get past the boot screen, you can force the Advanced Startup Options screen by interrupting the boot process (Turn the computer on, shut it down when the Windows logo appears). Repeat this two or three times and always shut down the computer when the Windows logo appears).
  2. If you can complete the startup process, you can also open the Restart Settings tab by opening the Startup dialog box (Windows key + R) and typing ms-settings: recovery and hitting Enter. Then simply click Restart Now under Advanced Start.
  3. When the Advanced Startup Options screen opens, select Troubleshooting and click Advanced Options.
  4. On the Advanced Options screen, click Startup Options, and then click Restart.
  5. Going back to the Startup Settings screen, press F4, F5, or F6 to start using one of the three safe modes.
  6. If the computer boots successfully in safe mode, it is certain that service from a recently installed application will trigger an error. In this case, you can start uninstalling recently installed programs that you think might be causing the problem, or you can try to systematically exclude programs and services from the startup process until you find the culprit.

However, if you get the same 0xc0000221 error when booting in safe mode, move on to the next solution.

Run SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM analysis in that order

By running these three built-in utilities designed to fix Windows file corruption, you can rule out the possibility that error code 0xc0000221 does not occur due to corruption of a system file or file system.

The following paragraphs describe how you can use these utilities to fix this error:

  1. First, run a system file check.
    If you cannot get past the start screen, follow the steps above to access the Advanced Startup Options menu, then go to Troubleshooting -> Advanced Options -> Command Prompt. Then enter the following command and press Enter to start scanning the system files.
  2. sfc/scans.
  3. After the sfc / scan now the process is complete, restart your computer and see if the error persists. If it still does, return to the extended command line as described above, type the following command and press Enter to execute CHKDSK :
  4. CHKDSK /f C :
  5. Note: If the above command does not install Windows 10 on the C drive, change the letter accordingly.
  6. Once the process is complete, restart your computer and see if you can get past the boot screen. If the same error occurs again, go back to the extended command line as described above, copy and paste the following command and press Enter to start the DISM scan:
  7. dism / clean image / restore health

After completing this process, restart your computer and see if it boots without errors. If the error still persists, you can try the following solution.

Check if there are any problems with the RAM

You can check if the installed RAM modules are causing this error. To do this, simply open your computer and remove one of the modules (if you are using two RAM sticks). If your computer successfully boots with only one memory stick, try repositioning the two memory sticks – sometimes problems occur when the faster memory sticks behind the slower ones.

Alternatively, you can perform a MemTest on both memory cards. If you confirm that your RAM modules did not trigger this error, you can move on to the next solution.

Remove the secondary GPU and external hard drives/SDS

Simply disconnect all unnecessary devices here – secondary hard drive, external hard drive, optical DVD drive, second SLI GPU (or CrossFire configuration), non-critical devices. After you have reduced the computer to the basics, turn it on and see if it boots successfully. If it starts up without error code 0xc0000221, always reconnect unnecessary components until you can determine the culprit.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, move on to the next solution.

Perform a system restore

It is possible that the problem occurs immediately after installing a Windows update. In this case, a system restore may solve the problem.

If you do not have a suitable system restore point or if the process fails, you can move on to the next solution.

Perform a Windows 10 operating system repair installation

If you still can’t fix error 0xc0000221 at this point, you can perform a Windows 10 repair installation – this will save your personal files, settings, and applications.


Frequently Asked Questions

Solution. To fix this error, run Emergency Recovery Disk (ERD) and let the system restore or replace the missing or corrupted driver file on the system partition. You can also perform an in-situ update from an existing copy of Windows.

Windows 10 error code 0xc0000221 usually occurs when the system fails to boot. This error can be caused by hardware issues, secondary GPU malfunction, corrupted system files, third-party application interruption, etc. This error code usually indicates system corruption.

  1. Download Third-party Recovery Essentials software.
  2. Burn the image.
  3. Boot your PC from the Third-party Easy Recovery Essentials CD or USB flash drive.
  4. After starting the third-party software, select the "Auto Recovery" option and click "Next".

  1. Boot into safe mode.
  2. Perform SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM scans in that order.
  3. Check the RAM for problems.
  4. Remove the secondary GPU and external hard drives/SDS.
  5. Perform a system restore.
  6. Perform an installation to repair the Windows 10 operating system.

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Mark Ginter is a tech blogger with a passion for all things gadgets and gizmos. A self-proclaimed "geek", Mark has been blogging about technology for over 15 years. His blog,, covers a wide range of topics including new product releases, industry news, and tips and tricks for getting the most out of your devices. If you're looking for someone who can keep you up-to-date with all the latest tech news and developments, then be sure to follow him over at Microsoft.