Sleuthing a BSOD

Last week I (intentionally) paved my Carbon X1 by reinstalling Windows 8.1. I thought it would be painful and time consuming, but having files on OneDrive, and having Windows 8.1 automatically pull down my previous settings and installed Win 8 apps, and using Office365 made getting back up and running a relatively quick process.

So last night when the X1 gave me a BSOD, I thought BS! Right? I’ve been using Windows 8.1 since it first came out, with no BSODs at all.

I happened to have my phone handy, so I took a picture of the computer as it crashed and burned. The cause was a "DPC Watchdog Violation." But what caused that?


After I booted up, I dug in, looking for the root cause. Time to do some sleuthing. . .

If your computer has occasional issues, or if you just want to see what is going on behind the scenes, the Action Center is the place to go. ("Action Center." Heh. Sounds like something from a bad '90s teen flick, doesn't it?) It has all kinds of information about what's going on under the covers, so to speak.

To get there, open Control Panel (the desktop control panel) -> search for "Action Center" -> expand the "Maintenance" section -> click on "View reliability history"


The Reliability Monitor gave me this view:


Pretty sweet, eh?

I clicked on View Technical Details for the line that says "Windows stopped working," which brought up this view.


A memory dump. Awesome! You can use WinDbg to open a dump and see what the system thinks happened. (WinDbg is part of the Windows 8.1 SDK; for Windows 8, download from here): To open the memory dump, start WinDbg, File > Open crash dump…

Note: windbg was installed by default on my machine here: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.1\Debuggers" but the Windows start screen search can easily find it.

And for me, windbg said:

Probably caused by : igdkmd64.sys ( igdkmd64+657a3 )
Followup: MachineOwner


When I did a Bing search for igdkmd64.sys, it gave me this: which told me it could be the Intel Graphics Driver that caused the problem. (Sure the link is to Windows 7 answer, but it was good enough for me right now.)

At this point I had two places to look for a driver update. Windows Update or the Intel site. I started with Windows Update, and wouldn't you know it, when I ran it, there was a new optional update for the Intel graphics adapter. It hadn't been there yesterday when I ran Windows Update. (Curious that the update would appear just now. Very curious.)

Anyway, I've installed the driver update and my machine is humming along again. Let's hope that was the issue.