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December 4, 2020

Certain Thunderbolt NVMe SSDs Provoke 2004 or 20H2 BSOD

Here’s an interesting Microsoft Support Note dated November 5. It’s got a hellaciously long title of “After updating to Windows 10, version 20H2 or Windows 10, version 2004, you might receive a stop error when plugging in a Thunderbolt NVMe SSD.” The lead-in graphic for this story comes from Mayank Parmar’s Windows Latest reporting on this issue, from whence I snagged that screenshot. I tried plugging in one of my NVMe USB devices into a Belkin Thunderbolt hub here at Chez Tittel, but was unable to replicate the error (I guess I should be grateful).

In the meantime, I guess that means users contemplating upgrades to 2004 or 20H2 should avoid using NVMe drives in Thunderbolt docks during the upgrade if they can’t live with the consequences of a resulting BSOD. (Note: conventional wisdom is that it’s smart to disconnect all external devices except for essential ones like keyboard, mouse and display when clean installing or upgrading anyway.) The note also suggests they should continue to avoid such drives until an MS fix for this problem is released in some Cumulative Update, as seems inevitable.

Those PCs likely to be affected by the Thunderbolt/NVMe issue will get this “upgrade block” message going forward.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

In the Meantime, MS Is Blocking Such Updates

Now, knowing that this error is possible MS is blocking upgrades on PCs with Thunderbolt docks and NVMe drives attached thereto. This suggests that those would-be upgraders might want to undock and disallow their Thunderbolt docks before attempting either upgrade, so as to see if the block can thus be successfully worked around. Just for grins I might try rolling back a test machine to 1909 later today, plugging in a Thunderbolt dock with NVMe drive, and attempting either or both upgrades. Should be interesting to see what happens. In the meantime: you’ve been warned.

This may help explain why some upgrade attempts may fail only to see the “This PC can’t be upgraded to Windows 10” window shown above. It just goes to show that here in Windows-World “It’s always something.” Count on me to keep you informed when such things present themselves for inspection and occasional incredulity. Given that the BSOD stopcode is Driver_verifier_DMA_violation, one has to surmise that the error is somewhere in the driver verifier code itself (a presumption immediately confirmed in its Microsoft DOCs entry). Cheers!

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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