How to Debug Windows Memory Dumps

Monday, May 14, 2007

From time to time, we're faced with the dreaded BSOD, or bugcheck, on a Windows machine. The procedures below guide you through the steps necessary to analyze and debug dump files.

For a downloadable copy of these procedures, click here: How%20To%20Debug%20Memory%20Dumps.doc

  • Download and install the Microsoft Debugging Tools from

  • Go to Start All Programs Debugging Tools For Windows WinDbg

  • Click on File Symbol File Path, enter:
    and click OK.

  • Click File Save Workspace so that your symbols path is saved for future use.

  • Now locate your memory dumps. Small memory dumps are usually located in %systemroot%\minidump and Kernel memory dumps are located in %systemroot%\MEMORY.DMP.

  • Go to File Open Crash Dump and load the file. You may get a message to save base workspace information. If so, choose No. Now you will get a debugging screen. It may take a little bit to run, since the symbols are downloaded as they are needed. Then you will see information such as:

Microsoft (R) Windows Debugger Version 6.7.0005.0
Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Loading Dump File [\\hoem02\c$\windows\MEMORY.DMP]
Kernel Summary Dump File: Only kernel address space is available

Symbol search path is: SRV*c:\symbols*
Executable search path is:
Windows Server 2003 Kernel Version 3790 MP (4 procs) Free x86 compatible
Product: Server, suite: TerminalServer SingleUserTS
Built by: 3790.srv03_gdr.050225-1827
Kernel base = 0xe0b49000 PsLoadedModuleList = 0xe0be66a8
Debug session time: Wed May 9 02:01:49.965 2007 (GMT-7)
System Uptime: 6 days 22:51:23.840
Loading Kernel Symbols
Loading User Symbols
PEB is paged out (Peb.Ldr = 7ffff00c). Type ".hh dbgerr001" for details
Loading unloaded module list
* *
* Bugcheck Analysis *
* *

Use !analyze -v to get detailed debugging information.

BugCheck A, {4, 2, 0, e0b6136d}

Probably caused by : volsnap.sys ( volsnap!VspWriteVolumePhase35+3a )

Followup: MachineOwner

  • So far, we can tell that the bugcheck was caused by volsnap.sys, which is the Microsoft volume shadow copy driver. Use !analyze -v to get detailed debugging information. The most useful information is at the top of the analysis:

* *
* Bugcheck Analysis *
* *


An attempt was made to access a pageable (or completely invalid) address at an interrupt request level (IRQL) that is too high. This is usually caused by drivers using improper addresses.

If a kernel debugger is available get the stack backtrace.
Arg1: 00000004, memory referenced
Arg2: 00000002, IRQL
Arg3: 00000000, value 0 = read operation, 1 = write operation
Arg4: e0b6136d, address which referenced memory

  • From here, we can tell that volsnap.sys tried to read memory from an IRQL that was too high. This is usually caused by a bad driver, in this case, volsnap.sys.

  • Next, let's find out what process was calling volsnap.sys. Enter !thread in the kd> command line input box and look for the line that begins with Owning Process:

2: kd> !thread
THREAD faa03658 Cid 0568.1954 Teb: 7ffac000 Win32Thread: 00000000 RUNNING on processor 2
Not impersonating
DeviceMap e1003978
Owning Process fc1913b0 Image: cvd.exe
Wait Start TickCount 38443765 Ticks: 0

  • Now enter !process fc1913b0 0 (the hex number of the Owning Process), a space and the number 0.

2: d> !process fc1913b0 0
PROCESS fc1913b0 SessionId: 0 Cid: 0568 Peb: 7ffff000 ParentCid: 0218
DirBase: dd4a3000 ObjectTable: e141a910 HandleCount: 475.
Image: cvd.exe

  • We can now tell that the cvd.exe process (used by Commvault) called the volsnap.sys driver. Since volsnap.sys is a Microsoft driver, a quick check on TechNet reveals that there is an updated VSS package available for our server ( which addresses the problem.

Note: Writing debugging information must be configured on the machine prior to the BSOD in order to get a memory dump. This is done in the Advanced tab of system properties. Set it to "Kernel memory dump" in order to get the process information.