How to Install Symbols for Dr. Watson Error Debugging

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When the following Dr. Watson application error occurs, make sure that the Windows NT symbols are loaded for debug operation.

Dr. Watson Application Error:
An application error has occurred and an application error log is being generated.

Exception: access violation <Hex value>, Address: <Hex address>


If the debug information in the Dr. Watson log displays "no symbols," then the symbol tree from the Windows NT compact disc has not been loaded to the %SystemRoot% directory. In this case, the interpretation of the Dr. Watson log is going to be difficult.

If you want to interpret the Dr. Watson log, load the Windows NT symbols to your %SystemRoot% directory. To load the symbol tree:

Windows NT 4.0

  1. Run Expndsym.cmd from the \Support\Debug directory at a command prompt by typing the following command:
    Expndsym F: C:\Winnt
    where F is the CD-ROM drive and \WINNT is the %SystemRoot% folder where Windows NT is installed.

    This will create a C:\%SystemRoot%\SYMBOLS directory structure and place the *.DBG files in the appropriate sub-directory (Dll, Exe, etc.)
  2. Symbols must also be installed for any Service Packs and hotfixes. Follow the appropriate step below for the Service Pack currently installed on the system.

    Service Pack on CD-ROM

    Use Explorer or a command prompt to copy the Symbols directory and its contents from the CD-ROM \Support\Debug\<platform> directory, where <platform> is one of the following: I386, Alpha, MIPS, PPC, to the %SystemRoot% directory. For example, to copy the symbols for the Intel platform, type the following command:
    Xcopy E:\Support\Debug\I386\Symbols\*.* C:\Winnt\Symbols /S

    Service Pack from Internet

    If you downloaded the Service Pack from the FTP or WWW site, you will also need to download the symbol files and follow the appropriate step below for the Service Pack currently installed on your system:

    SP1 or SP2: Type the following command at a command prompt:
    Sym_400i.exe -d C:\Winnt\Symbols
    SP3: Type the following at a command prompt and enter the path to the Symbols directory (i.e., C:\Winnt\Symbols) when prompted.
    SP4: Double-click the downloaded file (Sp4symi.exe). When you are prompted for a path, type the path for the system root folder (usually C:\Winnt). This updates the already created Symbols folder (created during the install ation of the base product symbols). It also creates a Joyport folder in the system root folder.

Windows NT 3.51

  1. Locate the \Support\Debug\<platform>\symbols directory on the Windows NT compact disc. The <platform> is one of the following: i386, ALPHA, MIPS or PPC.
  2. Copy the Symbols directory and its contents to the %SystemRoot% directory.
  3. If you have a Service Pack installed, copy the contents of the Service Pack Symbols directory to the %SystemRoot%\Symbols directory.

Windows NT 4.0, Enterprise Edition

Follow the same steps as for Windows NT 4.0, with the exception that the Expndsym.cmd file is located on the second CD-ROM set in the Support\NTS\Debug folder.

Windows 2000

Install the Windows 2000 symbols from the Windows 2000 Customer Support and Diagnostics Tools CD-ROM:
  1. Click Install Symbols from the menu on the right.
  2. In the Install Symbols section, click the appropriate type of symbols to install. Typically, this is the Retail Symbols selection.
  3. Click Install Retail Symbols. The File Download window appears.
  4. Click Run this program from the current location, and then click OK.
  5. Click Yes if you receive a prompt in the form of a Security Warning dialog box.
  6. Click Yes in the License dialog box.
  7. Click OK in the Microsoft Windows 2000 Symbols dialog box. Ensure that the path is the correct path to your installation. The default is C:\Winnt\Symbols.
  8. Click Yes to create the folder. You see the File Copy Progress dialog box.
  9. Click OK in the Installation is complete dialog box.
NOTE: Symbolsx.exe is the installation program for the Windows 2000 symbols. It is located in the D:\Symbols\I386\Retail folder for retail symbols or the D:\Symbols\I386\Debug folder for the debug version of Windows 2000.


Article ID: 141465 - Last Review: October 31, 2006 - Revision: 1.4
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition

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