BSOD Blue Screen of Death analysis

07 Apr

My previous desktop at home never blue screened. In fact I hadn’t experienced many BSODs since the Win98 era. However this new build has been giving me some grief so I started looking into it.

I never actually saw the BSODs. Turns out Win 7 automatically “recovers” from the BSOD by rebooting. Sure non of the 20 things I had opened were open anymore but its nice to not have read the fairly worthless message and end up rebooting anyway. After you login you get a nice message saying windows recovered from a critical error “Blue Screen”

When a windows system crashes it attempts to create a crash dump file. This includes the information that was stored in memory at the time of the crash. If you do not have the proper page file setup you will not be able to create the dump files. It should be at least equal to the size of your RAM and be on the system drive. Win7 creates Mini dump files that do not take up as much space.

I didn’t think my computer had crashed that many times until I realized I needed to free up some space on my computer. I found 11 minidump files which only add up to 3MB in C:windowsminidump. A larger 438MB file was located in C:windows called MEMORY.DMP. I came across these files using windirstat which is another awesome free tool that maps out the files on your computer and shows their sizes among other things.

I knew blue screens usually happen from drivers and or bad memory. I had run a mem test (memtest86) and it didn’t find any errors. I tried opening one of the .dmp files but there isn’t a default viewer for dump files with Win7. I was pleased to find out there was a free tool BlueScreenView (download link near bottom) that makes it mind numbingly simple to view the important contents of the dump file.

Mine were caused by the driver “atikmdag.sys” which is my video card driver. I went to the AMD website and downloaded the latest version. Its been about a week and no issues yet… hopefully the new code did the trick.

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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Uncategorized


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