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Troubleshooting Windows Server 2012 R2 Crashes. Analysis of Dump Files & Options. Forcing System Server Crash (Physical/Virtual)

windows-2012-troubleshooing-server-crashes-memory-dumps-debug-001aThere are umpteen reasons why your Windows Server 2012 R2 decides to present you with a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) or the stop screen. As virtual machines become more prominent in enterprise environments, the same problems that plagued physical servers earlier are now increasingly being observed for crashes of virtual machines as well.

Microsoft designs and configures Windows systems to capture information about the state of the operating systems if a total system failure occurs, unlike a failure of an individual application. You can see and analyze the captured information in the dump files, the settings of which you can configure using the System Tool in the Control Panel. By default, BSOD provides minimal information about the possible cause of the system crash and this may suffice in most circumstances to help in identifying the cause of the crash.

However, some crashes may require a deeper level of information than what the stop screen provides – for example, when your server simply hangs and becomes unresponsive. In that case, you may still be able to see the desktop, but moving the mouse or pressing keys on the keyboard produces no response. To resolve the issue, you need a memory dump. This is basically a binary file that contains a portion of the server's memory just before it crashed. Windows Server 2012 R2 provides five options for configuring memory dumps.

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Types of Memory Dump Files Possible

1. Automatic Memory Dump

Automatic memory dump is the default memory dump that Windows Server 2012 R2 starts off with. This is really not a new memory dump type, but is a Kernel memory dump that allows the SMSS process to reduce the page file to be smaller than the size of existing RAM. Therefore, this System Managed page file now reduces the size of page file on disk.

2. Complete Memory Dump

A complete memory dump is a record of the complete contents of the physical memory or RAM in the computer at the time of crash. Therefore, this needs a page file that is at least as large as the size of the RAM present plus 1MB. The complete memory dump will usually contain data from the processes that were running when the dump was collected. A subsequent crash will overwrite the previous contents of the dump.

3. Kernel Memory Dump

The kernel memory dump records only the read/write pages associated with the kernel-mode in physical memory at the time of crash. The non-paged memory saved in the kernel memory dump contains a list of running processes, state of the current thread and the list of loaded drivers. The amount of kernel-mode memory allocated by Windows and the drivers present on the system define the size of the kernel memory dump.

4. Small Memory Dump

A small memory dump or a MiniDump is a record of the stop code, parameters, list of loaded device drivers, information about the current process and thread, and includes the kernel stack for the thread that caused the crash.

5. No Memory Dump

Sometimes you may not want a memory dump when the server crashes.

 

Configuring Dump File Settings

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