The basic syntax for SymChk is as follows:
symchk [/r] FileNames /s SymbolPath
FileNames specifies one or more program files whose symbols are needed. If FileNames is a directory and the /r flag is used, this directory is explored recursively, and SymChk will try to find symbols for all program files in this directory tree. SymbolPath specifies where SymChk is to search for symbols.
There are many more command-line options. For a full listing, see SymChk Command-Line Options.
Symchk, like other debugging tools, ship as part of the debugger. For more information, see Download Debugging Tools for Windows.
Once the debugging tools are installed, symchk is available in this directory for 64 bit Windows.
C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Debuggers\x64
The symbol path specified can include any number of local directories, UNC directories, or symbol servers. Local directories and UNC directories are not searched recursively. Only the specified directory and a subdirectory based on the executable's extension are searched. For example, the query
symchk thisdriver.sys /s g:\symbols
will search g:\mysymbols and g:\mysymbols\sys.
You can specify a symbol server by using either of the following syntaxes as part of your symbol path:
This is very similar to using a symbol server in the debugger's symbol path. For details on this, see Using Symbol Servers and Symbol Stores.
If a downstream store is specified, SymChk will make copies of all valid symbol files found by the symbol server and place them in the downstream store. Only symbol files that are complete matches are copied downstream.
SymChk always searches the downstream store before querying the symbol server. Therefore you should be careful about using a downstream store when someone else is maintaining the symbol store. If you run SymChk once and it finds symbol files, it will copy those to the downstream store. If you then run SymChk again after these files have been altered or deleted on the symbol store, SymChk will not notice this fact, since it will find what it is looking for on the downstream store and look no further.
Note SymChk always uses SymSrv (Symsrv.dll) as its symbol server DLL. On the other hand, the debuggers can choose a symbol server DLL other than SymSrv if one is available. (SymSrv is the symbol server included in the Debugging Tools for Windows package.)
Using SymChk to determine whether symbols are private or public
To determine whether a symbol file is private or public, use the /v parameter so that SymChk displays verbose output. Suppose MyApp.exe and MyApp.pdb are in the folder c:\sym. Enter this command.
symchk /v c:\\sym\\MyApp.exe /s c:\\sym**
If MyApp.pdb contains private symbols, the output of SymChk looks like this.
[SYMCHK] Searching for symbols to c:\sym\MyApp.exe in path c:\sym ... DBGHELP: MyApp - private symbols & lines c:\sym\MyApp.pdb ... SYMCHK: FAILED files = 0 SYMCHK: PASSED + IGNORED files = 1
If MyApp.pdb contains only public symbols, the output of SymChk looks like this.
[SYMCHK] Searching for symbols to c:\sym\MyApp.exe in path c:\sym ... DBGHELP: MyApp - public symbols c:\sym\MyApp.pdb ... SYMCHK: FAILED files = 0 SYMCHK: PASSED + IGNORED files = 1
To limit your search so that it finds only public symbol files, use the s option with the /s parameter (/ss). The following command finds a match if MyApp.pdb contains only public symbols. It does not find a match if MyApp.pdb contains private symbols.
symchk /v c:\\sym\\MyApp.exe /ss c:\\sym
For more information, see Public and Private Symbols.
Here are some examples. The following command searches for symbols for the program Myapp.exe:
e:\debuggers> symchk f:\myapp.exe /s f:\symbols\applications SYMCHK: Myapp.exe FAILED - Myapp.pdb is missing SYMCHK: FAILED files = 1 SYMCHK: PASSED + IGNORED files = 0
You can try again with a different symbol path:
e:\debuggers> symchk f:\myapp.exe /s f:\symbols\newdirectory SYMCHK: FAILED files = 0 SYMCHK: PASSED + IGNORED files = 1
The search was successful this time. If the verbose option is not used, SymChk will only list files for which it failed to find symbols. So in this example no files were listed. You can tell that the search succeeded because there is now one file listed in the "passed" category and none in the "failed" category.
A program file is ignored if it contains no executable code. Many resource files are of this type.
If you prefer to see the file names of all program files, you can use the /v option to generate verbose output:
e:\debuggers> symchk /v f:\myapp.exe /s f:\symbols\newdirectory SYMCHK: MyApp.exe PASSED SYMCHK: FAILED files = 0 SYMCHK: PASSED + IGNORED files = 1
The following command searches for a huge number of Windows symbols in a symbol server. There are a great variety of possible error messages:
e:\debuggers> symchk /r c:\windows\system32 /s srv*\\manysymbols\windows SYMCHK: msisam11.dll FAILED - MSISAM11.pdb is missing SYMCHK: msuni11.dll FAILED - msuni11link.pdb is missing SYMCHK: msdxm.ocx FAILED - Image is split correctly, but msdxm.dbg i s missing SYMCHK: expsrv.dll FAILED - Checksum doesn't match with expsrv.DBG SYMCHK: imeshare.dll FAILED - imeshare.opt.pdb is missing SYMCHK: ir32_32.dll FAILED - Built with no debugging information SYMCHK: author.dll FAILED - rpctest.pdb is missing SYMCHK: msvcrt40.dll FAILED - Built with no debugging information ...... SYMCHK: FAILED files = 211 SYMCHK: PASSED + IGNORED files = 4809