Where to go for help with Windows crashes

Before getting into the installation and use of WinDbg for W8, I looked for additional sources to help with crash resolution. Just Googling "Windows 8 crash" returned forums, guides, tools and books, all offering varying levels of help.

For example, I went to Experts-Exchange.com and typed "windows 8 crash", "windbg" and other terms. Immediately, results were listed. However, to read them you must subscribe for a fee. For the purposes of this article I was granted access and, in short order, was rewarded with good information.

[RELATED: How to solve Windows 8 crashes in less than a minute]

I also tried WhoCrashed by Resplendence Software Projects Sp. It is a handy tool that will, upon first installation, report on what crashes have occurred to that point. From then on it will report following each crash event. Essentially, for a modest price, it nabs the data provided by WinDbg but presents it in a friendlier manner. And Microsoft offers its Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) for subscribers to its Software Assurance Plan, which performs crash analysis among a host of other functions. Being an enterprise-level offering, DaRT is far from inexpensive. However, for those managing many systems, it can be well worth it.

There is one standout resource that will raise the bar of any network admin and CIO: Windows Internals; long the definitive reference book to understand the internal operations of the Windows operating system. After reading both Parts One and Two, the last chapter, Chapter 14 "Crash Dump Analysis" applies the newly acquired knowledge by teaching what is perhaps its most powerful lesson: resolving BSODs.

A few options to help with Windows crashes

Name

Type

About.com

Guide

Cnet

Forum

EightForums

Forum

Experts-Exchange

Help Site

ForumsWindows8

Forum

Microsoft DaRT

Tool

MyDigitalLife

Forum

TechNet

Forum

WhoCrashed

Tool

WinDbg

Tool

Windows Internals

Book

Windows8Forums

Forum

WindowsSecrets

Forum

Win8Forums

Forum

When I asked, Mark Russinovich, one of the authors, why a network admin or CIO - as opposed to a programmer - should read it, he said "If you're managing Windows systems and don't know the difference between a process and a thread, how Windows manages virtual and physical memory, or how kernel-mode drivers can crash a system, you're handicapping yourself. Understanding these concepts is critical to fully understanding crash dumps and being able to decipher their clues."

Look at it this way: WinDbg will get you the data but Windows Internals will help you understand and use far more of the output than will this primer.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

This story, "Where to go for help with Windows crashes" was originally published by Network World.

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