When using the Windows operating system, you might encounter the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) which stops you from being able to use the computer and will require a restart. The BSOD happens when the computer suffers from software issues, drive issues or faulty hardware. In most cases, the BSOD will be present from hardware drive software issues. It isn’t possible for application software to cause a blue screen error—that’s sometimes called a stop error, too—in the Windows operating system because, during those times, the application just crashes instead.
The BSOD has been around for many years and versions of Windows. Since Windows 8 things have become much simpler and it’s a lot easier to get the information you need for troubleshooting.
Most BSOD’s are fixed by just following what the instructions on the computer’s display tell you to do, such as restarting the computer. But if you have a reoccurring problem then it might take some troubleshooting to investigate the issue further. Windows 10 creates Dump Files that can be used by the administrators to help debug the problems. Windows 10 creates those Dump Files automatically with its default settings, so there is nothing you need to do to get them working.
There are five different types of memory dumps that Windows 10 uses. They are the following: small memory dumps, kernel memory dumps, complete memory dumps, automatic memory dumps, and active memory dumps.
Small Memory Dumps: A small memory dump, also known as a mini memory dump, can be found by navigating to the C:\Windows\Minidump of the operating system. It contains the information regarding the current processes of the thread that created the crash, stop code, list of device drivers that are loaded, parameters, and the kernel stack for the thread that created the crash.
Kernel Memory Dumps: A kernel memory dump contains the kernel-mode read/write pages available from physical memory when the crash occurred. It doesn’t contain anything else. The kernel-mode only dump does not contain any information regarding the user-mode processes. Like the complete memory dumps, if a second crash occurs, the previous bits of information with regards to the kernel memory dumps are overwritten, and only the most recent dump is shown.
Complete Memory Dumps: A complete memory dump focuses on collecting all of the contents coming from the RAM (physical memory) when the crash occurs. That may also include information about what processes were running at the time of the crash so that you can evaluate them. The first lot of information captured by the complete memory dump is overridden when there is a second crash, so you only get the information regarding the most recent system crash all the time.
Automatic Memory Dumps: The automatic memory dump gives the same information that’s found in a kernel memory dump. The automatic memory dump will have a paging file set large enough by Windows so that the kernel memory dump has enough space to be captured. That happens because Windows sets the size to be “System managed size” when the kernel-mode crash dump is set to on the automatic memory dump.
Active Memory Dumps: An active memory dump is just focusing on the active memory of the kernel and the user mode. It allows for the chance to grab the kernel information and user information without having to use the complete memory dump. A complete memory dump is a lot larger than just the active memory dump, which is why that’s useful.
How to Configure Windows 10 to Create Dump Files on Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)
You can create Dump Files on the BSOD by using the Start-up and Recovery found in the Control Panel. To find it, navigate to the Control Panel by typing “Control Panel” into the search field in the taskbar and then clicking on the “Control Panel” desktop application available under the “best match” section of the popup window.
Next, choose to be showing the “Category” from the drop-down menu next to “View by” in the top right side of the Control Panel window and then click on the “System and Security” link.
Now click on the “System” link from the right side of the “System and Security” area.
Click on the “Advanced system settings” from the left side pane when you’re within the “System” area.
You should now have the “System Properties” dialog box open. By default, it opens up to be showing the “Advanced” tab. Leave it there and click on the “Settings” button under the “Startup and Recovery” section.
You’ll now have the “Startup and Recovery” dialog box open. Under the “System failure” heading is a drop-down menu with the heading “Write debugging information” that you need to click on next to choose what kind of dump file you want to create. If you want there to be no dump file, then select “None” from the menu and then click on the “OK” button, which will save your preference and close the dialog.
Select the “Small memory dump” if you want Windows to create the small memory dump. Click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the “Startup and recovery” dialog box to apply the changes and close the dialog.
Select the “Kernel memory dump” if you want Windows to create a kernel memory dump. Click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the “Startup and recovery” dialog box to apply the changes and close the dialog.
Select the “Complete memory dump” if you want Windows to create a complete memory dump. Click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the “Startup and recovery” dialog box to apply the changes and close the dialog.
Select the “Automatic memory dump” if you want Windows to create an automatic memory dump. Click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the “Startup and recovery” dialog box to apply the changes and close the dialog.
Select the “Active memory dump” if you want Windows to create an active memory dump. Click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the “Startup and recovery” dialog box to apply the changes and close the dialog.
Windows 10 has the Dump Files set to automatic so your BSOD analyst can always get what they need, but if you wanted to change that to one of the other options, you could do it from within the “Start and Recovery” dialog box using one of the options listed above.
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