Category: Crash

When to troubleshoot blue screen crashes

The other day I got an email from a blog reader which contained the information of a successful analyze of a memory dump file which is generated when an infamous blue screen of death occur. The reader wanted me to give him the solution or point him in the direction of a solution. This got me into thinking. When is it worth putting time on doing blue screen analyzes?

The content of the crash dump is maybe not that relevant after all. What is more important is how often and when the blue screen of death occurs. If the crash occurred just once or very seldom and randomly I would say that it might not be worth finding out exactly what caused the crash. Keep in mind that a blue screen could indicate a hardware failure, although driver problems are the most common cause for crashes.

However if the crashes occur often or at when doing specific tasks you have all the reasons in the world to get to the bottom of the problem. In these cases I recommend following the guide for troubleshooting blue screen crashes.

An interesting thing to note about blue screens that start occurring after for instance upgrading the OS from Windows XP to Windows Vista or Windows 7 is that the new memory management in the later operating systems might reveal problems in the memory modules that did not show when using Windows XP.

Finally, whenever having problem with blue screens of death I would recommend upgrading the machine BIOS. Often there are compatibility and stability fixes which solves problems with hardware which might be causing you the problems you are experiencing.

Troubleshoot and analyze Blue Screens of Death

TechRepublic has written a post on how to Extract troubleshooting info from Windows XP BSOD error messages. This is good, but I must say that extracting even more information from the memory crash dump file is even better. If you’ve missed my guide on how to do this you have it right here:

Troubleshoot and analyze Blue Screens of Death

Where are the “Solutions to install” in Vista?

The error reporting tool Problem reports and solutions in Windows Vista (and also in the upcoming Windows Server 2008) is a great addition from what we saw in error reporting in Windows XP. All application, system and driver crashes as well as compatibility problems and missing driver information is listed in this new control panel for error reports and is sent to Microsoft for analysis. Sometimes, much more frequently than Windows XP, there are solutions available. The check for a solution is done instantly when a crash occur in an application or a Windows component but you can also manually check every now and then to see if there are any solutions to the problems you have experienced.

Today Windows Explorer crashed on me and it instantly pointed me to the solution, downloading and installing hotfix KB941648, which is the newly released update for compatibility, reliability and stability in Windows Vista. While there are direct links to the download location of the hotfix in the solution to this problem I am still waiting for the first “solution to install” to show up in the Problem reports and solution tools. Having the necessary updates sent to you would be a lot more convenient, and as the feature is already there I wonder why no one is using it, Microsoft for one should be using it! Have you had a “solution to install”?

Problem reports and solutions