Stumbling Toward 'Awesomeness'

A Technical Art Blog

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Debugging a Bluescreen

This is a tip that a coworker (Tetsuji) showed me a year ago or so, I was pretty damn sure my ATI drivers were bluescreening my system, but I wanted to hunt down proof. So you have just had a bluescreen and your pc rebooted. Here’s how to hunt down what happened.

First thing you should see when you log back in is this:

It’s really important that you not do anything right now; especially don’t click one of those buttons. Click the ‘click here‘ text ad then you will see this window.

Ok, so this doesn’t tell us much at all. We want to get the ‘technical information’, so click the link for that and you will see something like this:

Here is why we did not click those buttons before; when you click those buttons, these files get deleted. So copy this path and go to this folder. Copy the contents elsewhere, and close all those windows. So you now have these three files:

The ‘dmp’ file (dump file) will tell us what bluescreened our machine, but we need some tools to read it. Head on over to the Microsoft site and download ‘Debugging Tools for Windows’ (x32, x64). Once installed, run ‘WinDbg‘.  Select File->Open Crash Dump… and point it at your DMP file. This will open, scroll down and look for something like this:

In this example the culprit was ‘pgfilter.sys‘, something installed by ‘Peer Guardian’, a hacky privacy protection tool I use at home. There is a better way to cut through a dump file, you can also type in ‘!analyze -v‘, this will generate something like this:

In this example above you see that it’s an ATI driver issue, which I fixed by replacing the card with an nvidia and tossing the ATI into our IT parts box (junkbox).

posted by Chris at 5:01 PM  

1 Comment »

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