System Error Memory Dump Files or Win Dump Files are like reports created whenever your computer experiences a crash. As the name suggests, they are Dump Files that are created and stored with information about each crash event and can be used to diagnose the problem that caused the crash. There are two major types of memory dump files, Memory.dmp and minidump. Memory Dump Files are important; however, they do take up a bit of space, and that can be a problem for users, especially if the storage is small.
System Error Memory Dump Files in Windows 11/10
When Windows crashes, it collects information about the crash during the time that the Crash Screen is displayed. At this point, the OS collects information from running applications, drivers, memories, etc., to create the Win dump files, also known as crash dumps files. These files together can be used to determine the cause of the crash. It is like analyzing stores of data that are saved over some time, the data will contain patterns that can be used to diagnose the cause of the problems.
Types of Windows Dump Files
Five types of Memory Dump Files can be created during a crash. They are:
- Complete Memory Dump Files,
- Kernel Memory Dump Files,
- Small Memory Dump Files,
- Automatic Memory Dump Files, and
- Active Memory Dump Files.
Read: How to manually create a Crash Dump file in Windows
Complete Memory Dump Files in Windows
A Complete Memory Dump File is a copy of the entire Windows physical memory at the time that the crash occurred. This type of Memory Dump is the largest. The default location for the Complete Memory Dump File is %SystemRoot%\Memory.dmp. The old file is overwritten each time a new file is created.
TIP: You can analyze Windows Memory Dump .dmp files with WhoCrashed.
Kernel Memory Dump Files in Windows
Kernel memory dump files contain Windows kernel and hardware abstraction level kernel-mode drivers. Kernel memory dump files have smaller sizes than complete memory dump files because they don’t contain unallocated memory and memory allocated to user-mode applications. The default location for kernel memory dump file is %SystemRoot%\Memory.dmp. The old one is overwritten when a new one is created.
Read: How to manually create a Crash Dump file in Windows
Small Memory Dump Files (256 kb) in Windows
Small memory dump files contain information related to the list of loaded drivers, the running process, and the kernel. They are the smallest Win dump files and have lesser details and usefulness. The default location for the small memory dump file is %SystemRoot%\Minidump. When a new file is created, the older file is preserved.
Read: How to open and read Small Memory Dump (DMP) files
Automatic Memory Dump Files in Windows
Automatic Memory Dump and Kernel Memory Dump contains the same information. The difference between the two is the way that Windows sets the size of the system paging file.
If the system paging file size is set to System managed size, and the kernel-mode crash dump is set to Automatic Memory Dump, then Windows can set the size of the paging file to less than the size of RAM. In this case, Windows sets the size of the paging file large enough to ensure that a kernel memory dump can be captured most of the time.
If the computer crashes and the paging file is not large enough to capture a kernel memory dump, Windows increases the size of the paging file to at least the size of RAM. The time of this event is recorded here in the Registry:
The increased Paging file size stays in place for 4 weeks and then returns to the smaller size. If you want to return to the smaller paging file before 4 weeks, you can delete the Registry entry.
To see the Page file settings:
- Go to Control Panel > System > Advanced system settings.
- Under Performance, select Settings.
- On the Advanced tab, under Virtual memory, select Change.
- In the Virtual Memory dialog box, you can see the paging file settings.
By default the Automatic Memory Dump file is written to %SystemRoot%\Memory.dmp.
Active Memory dump Files in Windows
An Active Memory Dump is similar to a Complete Memory Dump, but it filters out pages that are not likely to be relevant to troubleshooting problems on the computer. Because of this filtering, it is typically significantly smaller than a complete memory dump. This dump file does include any memory allocated to user-mode applications. It also includes memory allocated to the Windows kernel and hardware abstraction layer (HAL), as well as memory allocated to kernel-mode drivers and other kernel-mode programs.
An Active Memory Dump is particularly useful when Windows is hosting virtual machines (VMs). When taking a complete memory dump, the contents of each VM is included. When there are multiple VMs running, this can account for a large amount of memory in use on the host system. Many times, the code activities of interest are in the parent host OS, not the child VMs. An active memory dump filters out the memory associated with all child VMs. The default location for the Active Memory Dump File is %SystemRoot%\Memory.dmp. The Active Memory Dump is available in Windows 11/10 and later.
Read: Free Crash Dump Analyzer software for Windows
What is the System Error Memory Dump Files Location?
The default location for the System Error Dump Files or Win Dump Files is on the drive that the Operating System is installed. In most cases that is the drive C:. you can search for:
If the Operating System is installed on a drive with another drive letter, then that drive letter would replace C:.
In most cases, you will see both minidump and Memory.dmp on your computer. This is so because all other Memory Dump files will be stored in the memory.dmp while the small dump file will be stored in minidump file.
If you can’t find the Memory Dump Files it could mean that they were deleted possibly in a clean-up. It could also mean that no crash was recorded.
In Windows 11, dump files can also be stored as smaller memory dump files called Minidump. You can find minidump.dmp dump files in C:\Windows\Minidump.dmp. Some minidump files will have their own names, usually numbers such as the date and time of the crash incident.
- Windows Memory Dump Settings
- How to change the number of Memory Dump Files, Windows creates and saves
Is it safe to delete System Error Memory Dump Files?
Yes, it is safe to delete System Error Memory Dump Files. All System Memory Dump Files contain some information about a system crash. Each time the system crashes a System Error Dump File is created. These files can be used to analyze the cause of the crash. Deleting these files will not directly affect the system, however, they might hold valuable data. It would be wise to make a backup of the System Error Memory Dump Files for future reference. Files that are older than 30 days may be deleted if you wish if there are no problems. The urge to delete the Dump Files is usually because of the space they take up on the computer. You can choose to backup the files externally for 30 days and delete them if there are no problems.
The files may also be sent to Microsoft for analysis. it is a good idea to report them to Microsoft before deleting them. Sending dump files to Microsoft is a good idea because there are teams that review them and try to investigate the cause and resolve it either through Windows Update or notify you about possible solutions in Action Center.
How to Delete Memory Dump Files in Windows?
To delete Memory Dump Files you can find them on the hard drive and delete them. You can also delete it using the Windows Disk Cleanup Tool.
Open This PC in the left panel.
Right Click on the C: drive and click Properties.
A window will appear. Click Disk Cleanup, and it will load.
A window will appear, look to see that any files you need to delete are selected then click Clean Up System Files then wait for it to finish.
Another window will appear showing a list of things that can be cleaned up. You will notice some files selected and the amount of space that will be freed up if those files are deleted.
System Error Memory Dump files and System Error Minidump files are unselected. You can choose to delete them by selecting them and clicking ok,
You will be asked to confirm the delete. Confirm by clicking Delete Files.
What are System Error Memory Dump Files?
System Error Memory Dump Files are basically error logs that are created whenever your computer crashes. They can hold small amount of information about the crash or very large amounts of information. The System Error Memory Dump Files can be used by users or technicians to see why the crash happened and they can decide what to do. If these files are sent to Microsoft, they can use them to make corrections to whatever caused the crash.
- Physical Memory Limits in Crash Dump files
- Configure Windows to create Crash Dump Files on Blue Screen
How Long Should Error Memory Dump Files be Kept?
Error Memory Dump Files can be kept for 30 days or 60 days. They can be deleted after that time if the crash is not happening anymore. If the crash keeps happening then the larger Error Dump Files will get written over. The Complete Memory Dump File is the largest of the five types because it contains more data about the crash. This is usually the one that concerns users because of the size. If you want to keep them longer but you are low on disk space, you can choose to save them externally.