23/05: Microsoft Windows XP Error: 0x0000009C a.k.a 0x9C

I have been facing Microsoft Windows XP error 0x0000009C (Machine_Check_Exception) frequently since the last couple months accompanied by the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) associated with pre-Vista Windows based systems based on the NT kernel like Windows 2000, Windows XP, etc. From what I have read, Windows Vista presents a Red Screen Of Death (RSOD).

Any way, the thing I noticed most frequently associated with this error code is that just before it occurred, one of the hard disk drives in my computer system made a clicking sound which usually signifies hard disk failure. This lead me to check the hard disk drives extensively via disk check utility in Windows (chkdsk [drive]: /r) and some times, the utility reported bad sectors. Clearly, something fishy was going on.

I consulted Microsoft's KB articles and the help site resources for this error without any fruitful results. I searched on various forums and the suggestions to solve this error revolved around removing ZoneAlarm firewall software when clearly, this was a hardware error.

The plethora of random suggestions were very confusing and seemed more an attempt to guess at the solution rather than making an informed choice.

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