How to use Windbg to troubleshoot Blue Screen stop errors

A Blue Screen error occurs on Windows system after a system crash. The blue screen pops up unexpectedly forcing you to restart the system in the middle of your work.  The error is an unpremeditated sign and is quite frustrating when you find it hard to debug the problem. Fortunately, there are many handy tools like the Windows Debugger Tool (Windbg) which allows you to read the error report for troubleshooting and solve the BSOD error.

Causes of BSOD error

The BSOD error is displayed when your operating system reaches a threshold limit where the system is vulnerable and can no longer function safely. BSOD usually occurs because of several reasons like faulty drivers, corrupted windows registries, overheating, misconfigured device drivers, corrupted files, outdated driver, overclocking, bad software and other system hardware issues.

Fixing BSOD error

The Blue Screen error also called as Stop Error causes your Windows system to stop completely and you may have to reboot the system to continue to operate.

However, before the reboot, it is recommended that the users make a note of the error code displayed on the blue screen. That being said, the BSOD error pops up mostly when your system is unable to recover the kernel-level error. The error message usually displays a whole load of crash information with driver data associated with the error and other information with their possible fixes.

When the system crashes, the Windows creates minidump files and all the memory data with the error details is dumped to a hard drive for future debugging. There are many handy tools like Bluescreen view and Windbg that allows you to read the minidump files for troubleshooting. You can use Bluescreen view to quickly and easily analyze the error. For more advanced research, you can use Windbg to solve the BSOD issue.

What is Windows Debugger Tool (Windbg)

WinDbg also called as Windows debugging tool is a multipurpose debugger that automatically scans all the minidump files which were created after the BSOD crash. The tool is used for more advanced analysis for a tricky error and is available to download for free as part of the Windows 10 SDK.    For every crash occurance, the debugging tool gives details about the driver that was loaded during the crash, and other advanced crash information to diagnose the root cause of the blue screen error and eventually aids to figure out the problematic drivers. In this article, we explain how to use the Windows debugging tool (WinDbg) to read the crash report.

How to use Windbg

Installing Windbg

Download the standalone Windows 10 SDK here.

Run the installer and choose the default installation path.

Accept the license and select the feature Debugging tools for Windows to install the debugger.

Windows Debugger Tool (Windbg)

Click on the Install button.

Using Windbg to debug a Blue Screen error

Go to Start and type WinDbg (x86).

Right click on WinDbg tool and select Run as administrator.

Go to File and click on Open Crash Dump from the menu.

Navigate to the path C:\Windows\Minidump and click Minidump folder.

In the Minidump folder, click the dmp file you want to open.

WinDbg will now analyze the file and Wait till the Debuggee not connected disappears at the bottom of the window.

Click on !analyze -v in the command prompt and wait till the analyze is complete.

To get more driver information, locate the MODULE_NAME from the analysis results and click on driver link.

Once you identify the problematic driver, you can choose to either update or reinstall the problematic driver from the manufacturer’s web page in order the fix the problem.

Hope this helps!

PS: John Carrona Sr adds: You’ll get symbol errors if you don’t set a valid symbol path. The easiest method is to click on File…Symbol File Path and enter:

srv*c:\symbols*https://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols

This has to be done each time you open WinDbg – unless you save the Workspace for later use.

Example of errors that you get when not using symbols is here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/30019889/how-to-set-up-symbols-in-windbg.

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Pavithra is a Windows enthusiast, who loves keeping abreast with the latest in the world of technology.