• United States
by Dirk A.D. Smith

Where to go for help with Windows crashes

Apr 15, 20132 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoftSmall and Medium Business

Before getting into the installation and use of WinDbg for W8, I looked for additional sources to help with crash resolution. Just Googling “Windows 8 crash” returned forums, guides, tools and books, all offering varying levels of help.

For example, I went to and typed “windows 8 crash”, “windbg” and other terms. Immediately, results were listed. However, to read them you must subscribe for a fee. For the purposes of this article I was granted access and, in short order, was rewarded with good information.

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Watch a slideshow that walks you through a crash and the remedies]

I also tried WhoCrashed by Resplendence Software Projects Sp. It is a handy tool that will, upon first installation, report on what crashes have occurred to that point. From then on it will report following each crash event. Essentially, for a modest price, it nabs the data provided by WinDbg but presents it in a friendlier manner. And Microsoft offers its Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) for subscribers to its Software Assurance Plan, which performs crash analysis among a host of other functions. Being an enterprise-level offering, DaRT is far from inexpensive. However, for those managing many systems, it can be well worth it.

There is one standout resource that will raise the bar of any network admin and CIO: Windows Internals; long the definitive reference book to understand the internal operations of the Windows operating system. After reading both Parts One and Two, the last chapter, Chapter 14 “Crash Dump Analysis” applies the newly acquired knowledge by teaching what is perhaps its most powerful lesson: resolving BSODs.

A few options to help with Windows crashes
Experts-ExchangeHelp Site
Microsoft DaRTTool
Windows InternalsBook

When I asked, Mark Russinovich, one of the authors, why a network admin or CIO – as opposed to a programmer – should read it, he said “If you’re managing Windows systems and don’t know the difference between a process and a thread, how Windows manages virtual and physical memory, or how kernel-mode drivers can crash a system, you’re handicapping yourself. Understanding these concepts is critical to fully understanding crash dumps and being able to decipher their clues.”

Look at it this way: WinDbg will get you the data but Windows Internals will help you understand and use far more of the output.