Automatic Memory Dump Settings on Windows 8

In Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, Microsoft has introduced a new Memory dump option called “Automatic Memory Dump”. This is the default option set in the operating system.

For those you don’t know, on Windows 7 we have Minidump, Kernel dump and Complete Memory dump. You might be wondering why Microsoft chose to create this new Memory dump setting?

Well, according to Robert Simpkins, Senior Support Escalation Engineer, Automatic Memory Dump is to create support for “System Managed” page file configuration. The System Managed page file configuration is responsible for managing the page file size - therefore it avoids over-sizing or under-sizing your page file. This option is introduced mainly for PC’s that run SSD’s, which tend to have smaller size, but a huge amount of RAM.

Automatic Memory Dump Settings on Windows 8

The main advantage of “Automatic Memory Dump” is that it will allow Session Manager sub-system process to automatically allow it to reduce the Page file to a size smaller than the size of RAM. For those who don’t know, Session Manager Subsystem is responsible for initializing system environment and starting up services and processes needed for users to login. It basically sets up the page files for virtual memory, and starts up the winlogon.exe process.

If you want to change Automatic Memory Dump settings here is how you can do it. Press Win + X and click on System. Next click on “Advance System Settings”.

image thumb9 Automatic Memory Dump Settings on Windows 8

Under Start up and Recovery, click on Settings.

image thumb10 Automatic Memory Dump Settings on Windows 8

There you can see a drop-down menu where it says “Write debugging information

image thumb11 Automatic Memory Dump Settings on Windows 8

Here you can select the option you want. The options offered are:

  • No memory dumps
  • Small memory dump
  • Kernel memory dump
  • Complete memory dump
  • Automatic memory dump

If you are using SSD then it’s best to leave it at “Automatic Memory dump”; but if you are in need of a crash dump file then it’s best to set it to “Small memory dump” as this way you can, if you wish, send it to someone to take a look at.

In some cases we may need to increase the page file size to more than that of the RAM, to fit a complete memory dump. In such cases we can create a registry key under

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl

called “LastCrashTime”.

This will automatically increase the size of the page file. To reduce it later on, you can just delete the key.

I haven’t got a chance to test it yet but I have created this key and have been monitoring the page file size. I know sooner or later I will get a Bugcheck error. Then I’ll test it out.

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Shyam aka “Captain Jack” is a Microsoft MVP and a Windows Enthusiast whose area of expertise is Crash Dump Analysis and Advanced Windows troubleshooting. He has developed Windows based Tools like SF IE Restorator for troubleshooting Internet Explorer issues and SF Diagnostic Tool for collecting Crash dump files for troubleshooting purpose. He blogs at captaindbg.com.
  • MIchael

    I’m on Windows 8.1 and it does not save crash dumps. I enabled a page file (1-2GB), which is less than amount of RAM I have (32GB). The dump setting is ‘Automatic’.
    I tested it with the Crash Dump Test utility in WhoCrashed, but it’s just stuck at 0% “We’re collecting info…”

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