Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Using Task Manager
Analyzing Blue Screens
You can use a number of methods to analyze a memory crash dump file
ranging from incredibly easy to insanely complex. Microsoft Support typically uses
the Windows debugging tool call Windbg to analyze crash dumps. Windbg is
a very powerful utility, but it is not exactly easy to use unless you have
experience debugging Windows applications and have a good understanding of how
Windows works under the covers.
For the rest of us, the best option is to use an automated crash analysis tool
that looks at the crash dump file and identifies what driver or system component
caused the crash condition. For this I like using a free tool called Who Crashed.
Follow these steps to identify the true source of your blue screen:
1. Head over to and download the latest version of Who
Crashed. Click the Download Free Home Edition button.
2. Once downloaded, install and launch the utility.
3. When Who Crashed is loaded, simply click the Analyze button.
4. Scroll down on the Report tab to view the Crash Dump Analysis.
There is a section for each crash dump file the utility finds. The section shows
you what file caused the crash and even what product the file belongs to if it
is a driver.
The vast majority of Windows blue screens are caused by poorly written device
drivers that experience a condition they were not expecting, such as a hardware
failure or a programming mistake. Blue screens that appear to be from the kernel
of the operating system, such as ntoskrnl.exe, are typically wrong. The kernel
very rarely crashes on its own. Crashes typically have an environmental cause
such as failing hardware or possibly a corrupt system file.
Using Task Manager
The Windows Task Manager is a critical part of Windows that makes it
possible for users to have full control over what their system is doing. Providing
the capability to monitor individual programs and control any program or
process, Task Manager is useful. No special software must be installed to use
Task Manager; just press Ctrl+Alt+Del and then click Start Task Manager. You
can also press Ctrl+Shift+Esc or open the Start screen, type taskmgr in the
Search box, and then press Enter.
After Windows Task Manager has started, you see the new simplified process
view. This is nice for new users but not for anyone that is reading this topic.
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