Overview of memory dump file options for Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2

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Article ID: 254649 - View products that this article applies to.
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SUMMARY

You can configure the following operating systems to write debugging information:
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
The debugging information can be written to different file formats (also known as memory dump files) when your computer stops unexpectedly because of a Stop error (also known as a "blue screen," system crash, or bug check). You can also configure Windows not to write debugging information to a memory dump file.

Windows can generate any one of the following memory dump file types:
  • Complete memory dump
  • Kernel memory dump
  • Small memory dump (64 KB)

MORE INFORMATION

Complete memory dump

A complete memory dump records all the contents of system memory when your computer stops unexpectedly. A complete memory dump may contain data from processes that were running when the memory dump was collected.

If you select the Complete memory dump option, you must have a paging file on the boot volume that is sufficient to hold all the physical RAM plus 1 megabyte (MB).

If a second problem occurs and another complete memory dump (or kernel memory dump) file is created, the previous file is overwritten.

Notes
  • In Windows Vista, in Windows 7, in Windows Server 2008, and in Windows Server 2008 R2, the paging file can be on a partition that differs from the partition on which the operating system is installed.
  • In Windows Vista and in Windows Server 2008, to put a paging file on another partition, you must create a new registry entry that is named DedicatedDumpFile. You can define the size of the paging file by using a new registry entry that is named DumpFileSize.
    • For more information about how to do this, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
      969028 How to generate a kernel or a complete memory dump file in Windows Server 2008

  • In Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008 R2, you do not have to use the DedicatedDumpFile registry entry to put a paging file onto another partition.
  • The Complete memory dump option is not available on computers that are running a 32-bit operating system and that have 2 gigabytes (GB) or more of RAM. For more information, see the "Specify what happens when the system stops unexpectedly" topic on the following Microsoft TechNet Web site:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc778968(WS.10).aspx

Kernel memory dump

A kernel memory dump records only the kernel memory. This speeds up the process of recording information in a log when your computer stops unexpectedly. You must have a pagefile large enough to accommodate your kernel memory. For 32-bit systems, kernel memory is usually between150MB and 2GB. Additionally, on Windows 2003 and Windows XP, the page file must be on the boot volume. Otherwise, a memory dump cannot be created.

This dump file does not include unallocated memory or any memory that is allocated to User-mode programs. It includes only memory that is allocated to the kernel and hardware abstraction layer (HAL) in Windows 2000 and later, and memory allocated to Kernel-mode drivers and other Kernel-mode programs. For most purposes, this dump file is the most useful. It is significantly smaller than the complete memory dump file, but it omits only those parts of memory that are unlikely to have been involved in the problem.

If a second problem occurs and another kernel memory dump file (or a complete memory dump file) is created, the previous file is overwritten when the 'Overwrite any existing file' setting is checked.

Small memory dump

A small memory dump records the smallest set of useful information that may help identify why your computer stopped unexpectedly. This option requires a paging file of at least 2 MB on the boot volume and specifies that Windows 2000 and later create a new file every time your computer stops unexpectedly. A history of these files is stored in a folder.

This dump file type includes the following information:
  • The Stop message and its parameters and other data
  • A list of loaded drivers
  • The processor context (PRCB) for the processor that stopped
  • The process information and kernel context (EPROCESS) for the process that stopped
  • The process information and kernel context (ETHREAD) for the thread that stopped
  • The Kernel-mode call stack for the thread that stopped
This kind of dump file can be useful when space is limited. However, because of the limited information included, errors that were not directly caused by the thread that was running at the time of the problem may not be discovered by an analysis of this file.

If a second problem occurs and a second small memory dump file is created, the previous file is preserved. Each additional file is given a distinct name. The date is encoded in the file name. For example, Mini022900-01.dmp is the first memory dump generated on February 29, 2000. A list of all small memory dump files is kept in the %SystemRoot%\Minidump folder.

Configure the dump type

To configure startup and recovery options (including the dump type), follow these steps.

Note Because there are several versions of Microsoft Windows, the following steps may be different on your computer. If they are, see your product documentation to complete these steps.
  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Performance and Maintenance, and then click System.
  3. On the Advanced tab, click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
NOTE: You must restart Windows in order for your changes to take affect.



Tools for the various dump types

You can load complete memory dumps and kernel memory dumps with standard symbolic debuggers, such as I386kd.exe. I386kd.exe is included with the Windows 2000 Support CD-ROM.

Load small memory dumps by using Dumpchk.exe. Dumpchk.exe is included with the Support Tools for Windows 2000 and Windows XP. You can also use Dumpchk.exe to verify that a memory dump file has been created correctly.

For more information about how to use Dumpchk.exe in Windows XP, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
315271 How to use Dumpchk.exe to check a memory dump file
For more information about how to use Dumpchk.exe in Windows 2000, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
156280 How to use Dumpchk.exe to check a memory dump file
For more information about Windows debugging tools, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devtools/debugging/default.mspx

Definitions

  • Boot volume: The volume that contains the Windows operating system and its support files. The boot volume can be, but does not have to be, the same as the system volume.
  • System volume: The volume that contains the hardware-specific files that you must have to load Windows. The system volume can be, but does not have to be, the same as the boot volume. The Boot.ini, Ntdetect.com, and Ntbootdd.sys files are examples of files that are located on the system volume.

Registry values for startup and recovery

The following registry value is used:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl

CrashDumpEnabled REG_DWORD 0x0 = None
CrashDumpEnabled REG_DWORD 0x1 = Complete memory dump
CrashDumpEnabled REG_DWORD 0x2 = Kernel memory dump
CrashDumpEnabled REG_DWORD 0x3 = Small memory dump (64KB)
Additional registry values for CrashControl:
0x0 = Disabled
0x1 = Enabled

AutoReboot REG_DWORD 0x1
DumpFile REG_EXPAND_SZ %SystemRoot%\Memory.dmp
LogEvent REG_DWORD 0x1
MinidumpDir REG_EXPAND_SZ %SystemRoot%\Minidump
Overwrite REG_DWORD 0x1
SendAlert REG_DWORD 0x1

NOTE: You must restart Windows in order for your changes to take affect.


Test to make sure that a dump file can be created

For more information about how to configure your computer to generate a dump file for testing purposes, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
244139 Windows feature lets you generate a memory dump file by using the keyboard

Default dump type options

  • Windows 2000 Professional: Small memory dump (64 KB)
  • Windows 2000 Server: Complete memory dump
  • Windows 2000 Advanced Server: Complete memory dump
  • Windows XP (Professional and Home Edition): Small memory dump (64 KB)
  • Windows Server 2003 (All Editions): Complete memory dump
  • Windows Vista (All Editions): Kernel memory dump
  • Windows Server 2008 (All Editions): Kernel memory dump
  • Windows 7 (All Editions): Kernel memory dump
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (All Editions): Kernel memory dump

Maximum paging file size

Maximum paging file size is limited as follows:
Collapse this tableExpand this table
x86x64IA-64
Maximum size of a paging file4 gigabytes (non-PAE)
16 terabytes (PAE)
16 terabytes32 terabytes
Maximum number of paging files161616
Total paging file size64 gigabytes (non-PAE)
256 terabytes (PAE)
256 terabytes512 terabytes

Technical support for x64-based versions of Microsoft Windows

Your hardware manufacturer provides technical support and assistance for x64-based versions of Windows. Your hardware manufacturer provides support because an x64-based version of Windows was included with your hardware. Your hardware manufacturer might have customized the installation of Windows with unique components. Unique components might include specific device drivers or might include optional settings to maximize the performance of the hardware. Microsoft will provide reasonable-effort assistance if you need technical help with your x64-based version of Windows. However, you might have to contact your manufacturer directly. Your manufacturer is best qualified to support the software that your manufacturer installed on the hardware.

For product information about Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/default.mspx
For product information about x64-based versions of Microsoft Windows Server 2003, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/64bit/x64/editions.mspx

Properties

Article ID: 254649 - Last Review: June 8, 2012 - Revision: 23.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition for Itanium-Based Systems
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition for Itanium-based Systems
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 Update Rollup 2
  • Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
  • Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems
  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard
  • Windows Web Server 2008
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V
  • Windows Server 2008 Foundation
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
  • Windows Web Server 2008 R2
  • Windows 7 Home Basic
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Service Pack 1
  • Windows 7 Starter
  • Windows 7 Ultimate
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
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