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Understanding and Eliminating System Errors


2.6. When a BSOD occurs a report on what is in memory at the time of the error is generated and placed in a dump file on disk. The file can usually be found at c:\windows\Minidump. You need to have the computer configured to Show Hidden Files to see the file. If you cannot see a dump file, check that the computer is configured to generate a dump file.

2.7. In most situations it is preferable to configure the computer to produce a kernel memory dump when system failure occurs. A complete memory dump is a very large file to handle so it is more practical to work with kernel memory dumps when trying to resolve blue screen errors. The smaller file size also helps where free disk space is limited.

2.8. To change your dump files settings to produce a kernel memory dump select Start, Control Panel, System, Advanced system settings, Advanced tab, and click the Startup Recovery Settings button. Under System failure check the boxes before Write an event to the system log and Automatically restart . To change the Write debugging information option use the scroll to the right to Kernel memory dump . Click OK and, in the next window click Apply and OK. Restart your computer to apply the changes.

2.9. If the system fails to produce dump files when a crash occurs you should check that you have adequate free disk space on your system partition (usually C). Free disk space of 20 to 25% of the size of the partition is recommended. Dump files can be automatically deleted if the partition has less than 25gb free disk space. Place a pagefile of 2gb on the c system partition, if you have located your main page file on another partition. Check that the Windows Error Reporting Service has been set to Manual Startup Type and that the User Account Control is running. You can have the situation that dump files are generated and then immediately disappear. If this is suspected check disk cleaning applications like cCleaner, which can be set to automatically delete dump files when the computer is booted. You should uncheck this option until the problematic crashes are resolved.

2.10. The interpretation of a dump report is extremely difficult and many users are not able to master the techniques and tools needed to undertake the task. To diagnose what is going on you often need to look at a number of dump files. For those who wish to try debugging the next link offers helpful advice here.

2.11. Microsoft has provided a list of Bug Check Codes with information as to their meaning. Many BSOD errors are driver related and a memory dump file contains details of all drivers loaded when the system failure occurred. If you are not using the Windows Debugging tool you can use Blue Screen View to get a list of drivers in the dump file. You can use Driver View to get a complete list of installed drivers and their versions. These details help when checking for driver updates. Go to the computer or motherboard manufacturer’s web site for free updated drivers before looking elsewhere.

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