So you’ve just got your first Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) or maybe your twentieth? In any case, most people don’t know how to fix BSOD problems on their own. If there is someone fanatical in your family, they can fix it for you, but it often happens that you need to send the dump files to a technician so that he can determine the cause of the problem.
Dump files are simply log files generated when BSOD occurs. It contains all of the information related to the error and can be analyzed to determine what caused the error. In this post, I’m going to show you a few free programs that will collect dump files and either view them or create a well-organized folder that you can zip and post on the forum, send an email to your IT department, email a friend, etc. You can always find the files and try to parse them yourself, and I covered that a bit below as well.
If you’d like to view the crash reports yourself, you can try another great program called BlueScreenView.
The program automatically scans all of your minidump files, which are basically useful subsets of the crash dump file, and displays information about each crash in a single table. Minidump files should be smaller and contain only important information so that they can be sent more easily over the Internet.
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What’s cool about this program is that you can see the original blue crash screen that Windows displays, and a whole bunch of other information, including the time of the crash and the filename / description of each driver that might have caused the crash.
In general, BlueScreenView is very good, but there are times when it indicates the wrong driver as the cause of the problem. The reason for this is that it assumes that the last driver loaded before the crash is the culprit and is therefore much more to blame for Microsoft drivers than third-party drivers, which are the real culprit.
Windows Debugging Tools
If you really want to get your hands dirty without becoming a tech guru, you can download Debugging Tools for Windows, which requires downloading the Windows SDK. You also have the option to download a new debugging tool called WinDbg Preview. It has a better interface and is faster than the original WinDbg tool included in the SDK. You can download WinDbg here:
Otherwise, download the Windows 10 SDK from here:
When you go to the installation, you will see a list of options with checkboxes. You only need to install Windows Debugging Tools. Everything else can be removed.
After installation, you can go to the All Programs section and you will see a new folder called Windows Kits, inside which is the Debugging Tool (WinDbg).
Just start the program and click “File” and “Open Crash Dump”.
Now all you have to do is find files ending in * .dmp or * .mdmp on your computer. You can find all the minidump files here:
% SystemRoot% Minidump
You will have to change your system settings to be able to view hidden and system files, otherwise they will not show up. After opening the dump file, it will try to analyze it and tell you where the problem is. It is recommended to use BlueScreenView and WinDbg to analyze the dump file as they may give different answers.
This is definitely not an exhaustive guide to reading or analyzing dump files, but hopefully it will help you move in the right direction depending on what you want to do with the dump files. Enjoy!