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How to solve Windows 8 crashes in less than a minute

Dirk A. D. Smith | April 16, 2013
Windows 8 has been out for a while, featuring an interface that's as cool as it is annoying . . . until you get the hang of it. But, like any computer operating system, it can fall over. Luckily, there is an easy way to solve the cause of most crashes; just call up WinDbg, the Windows debugger; a free tool to diagnose the most common causes of Windows crashes -- misbehaved third party drivers.

A command window will open. If this is the first time you are using WinDbg on this system or looking at a dump file from another system you have not loaded files for before, it may take a moment to fill with information. This is because the debugger has to identify the precise release of Windows then go to SymServ at Microsoft and locate the corresponding symbol files and download the ones it needs. In subsequent sessions this step is unneeded because the symbols are saved on the hard drive. Once WinDbg has the symbols it needs it will run an analysis and fill the window with the results. This will include basic information such as the version of WinDbg, the location and name of the dump file opened, the symbol search path being used and even a brief analysis offering, in this case,

Probably caused by : myfault.sys

which, of course, we know to be true (myfault.sys is the name of the driver for NotMyFault).

WinDbg Error Messages

If WinDbg reports a *** WARNING or an *** ERROR, the solution is usually simple. The following lists the common messages, what they mean and how to resolve them.

*** WARNING: Unable to verify timestamp for ntoskrnl.exe

*** ERROR: Module load completed but symbols could not be loaded for ntoskrnl.exe

This is important. When you see these two messages near the beginning of the output from WinDbg, it means that you will not get the analysis that you need. This is confirmed after the "Bugcheck Analysis" is automatically run, and the message

***** Kernel symbols are WRONG. Please fix symbols to do analysis

is displayed.

Likely causes follow:

" No path/wrong path; a path to the symbol files has not been set or the path is incorrect (look for typos such as a blank white space). Check the Symbol Path.

" Failed connection; check your Internet connection to make sure it is working properly.~~

" Access blocked; a firewall blocked access to the symbol files or the files were damaged during retrieval. See that no firewall is blocking access to (it may only be allowing access to

Note that if a firewall initially blocks WinDbg from downloading a symbol table, it can result in a corrupted file. If unblocking the firewall and attempting to download the symbol file again does not work; the file remains damaged. The quickest fix is to close WinDbg, delete the symbols folder (which you most likely set at c:\symbols), and unblock the firewall. Next, reopen WinDbg and a dump file. The debugger will recreate the folder and re-download the symbols.

Do not go further with your analysis until this is corrected.


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