Configure system failure and recovery options in Windows

This article describes how to configure the actions that Windows takes when a system error (also referred to as a bug check, system crash, fatal system error, or Stop error) occurs. You can configure the following actions:

  • Write an event to the System log.

  • Alert administrators (if you have set up administrative alerts).

  • Put system memory into a file that advanced users can use for debugging.

  • Automatically restart the computer.

Note

You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group to complete this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from completing this procedure.

Configuring system failure and recovery options

Important

Follow the steps in this section carefully. Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Before you modify it, back up the registry for restoration in case problems occur.

The options are available in the Startup and Recovery dialog box. You can also use the following methods:

  • Modify the values under the following registry subkey:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl

  • To modify the option on your local computer, use the command line utility (Wmic.exe) to access Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).

Follow these steps to view the options in Startup and Recovery. (The registry value and Wmic commands are also listed for each option.)

  1. In Control Panel, select System and Security > System.

  2. Select Advanced system settings, select the Advanced tab, and select Settings in the Startup and Recovery area.

Under "System failure"

Select the check boxes for the actions that you want Windows to perform when a system error occurs.

Write an event to the System log

This option specifies that event information is recorded in the System log. By default, this option is turned on.

To turn off this option, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set WriteToSystemLog = False
    
  • Set the LogEvent DWORD value to 0.

Send an administrative alert

The option specifies that administrators are notified of the system error if you configured administrative alerts. By default, this option is turned on.

To turn off this option, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set SendAdminAlert = False
    
  • Set the SendAlert DWORD value to 0.

Automatically restart

The option specifies that Windows automatically restarts your computer. By default, this option is turned on.

To turn off this option, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set AutoReboot = False
    
  • Set the AutoReboot DWORD value to 0.

Under "Write debugging information"

Select one of the following type of information that you want Windows to record in a memory dump file if the computer stops unexpectedly:

(none)

The option does not record any information in a memory dump file.

To specify that you do not want Windows to record information in a memory dump file, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set DebugInfoType = 0
    
  • Set the CrashDumpEnabled DWORD value to 0.

Small Memory Dump

The option records the smallest amount of information to help identify the problem. This option requires a paging file of at least 2 megabytes (MB) on the boot volume of your computer, and specifies that Windows will create a new file each time the system stops unexpectedly. A history of these files is stored in the folder that is listed under Small Dump Directory (%SystemRoot%\Minidump). In Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, the small memory dump file is used together with the Windows Error Reporting feature.

To specify that you want to use a small memory dump file, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set DebugInfoType = 3
    
  • Set the CrashDumpEnabled DWORD value to 3.

To specify that you want to use a folder as your Small Dump Directory, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set MiniDumpDirectory = <folderpath>
    
  • Set the MinidumpDir Expandable String Value to <folderpath>.

Kernel Memory Dump

The option records only kernel memory. This option stores more information than a small memory dump file, but it takes less time to complete than a complete memory dump file. The file is stored in %SystemRoot%\Memory.dmp by default, and any previous kernel or complete memory dump files are overwritten if the Overwrite any existing file check box is selected. If you set this option, you must have a sufficiently large paging file on the boot volume. The required size depends on the amount of RAM in your computer However, the maximum amount of space that must be available for a kernel memory dump on a 32-bit system is 2 GB plus 16 MB. On a 64-bit system, the maximum amount of space that must be available for a kernel memory dump is the size of the RAM plus 128 MB. The following table provides guidelines for the size of the paging file:

RAM size Paging file should be no smaller than
256 MB–1,373 MB 1.5 times the RAM size
1,374 MB or greater 32-bit system: 2 GB plus 16 MB
64-bit system: size of the RAM plus 128 MB

To specify that you want to use a kernel memory dump file, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set DebugInfoType = 2
    
  • Set the CrashDumpEnabled DWORD value to 2.

To specify that you want to use a file as your memory dump file, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set DebugFilePath = <filepath>
    
  • Set the DumpFile Expandable String Value to <filepath>.

To specify that you do not want to overwrite any previous kernel or complete memory dump files, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set OverwriteExistingDebugFile = 0
    
  • Set the Overwrite DWORD value to 0.

Complete Memory Dump

The option records the contents of system memory when the computer stops unexpectedly. This option is not available on computers that have 2 or more GB of RAM. If you select this option, you must have a paging file on the boot volume that is sufficient to hold all the physical RAM plus 1 MB. The file is stored as specified in %SystemRoot%\Memory.dmp by default.

The extra megabyte is required for a complete memory dump file because Windows writes a header in addition to dumping the memory contents. The header contains a crash dump signature and specifies the values of some kernel variables. The header information does not require a full megabyte of space, but Windows sizes your paging file in increments of megabytes.

To specify that you want to use a complete memory dump file, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set DebugInfoType = 1
    
  • Set the CrashDumpEnabled DWORD value to 1.

To specify that you want to use a file as your memory dump file, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set DebugFilePath = <filepath>
    
  • Set the DumpFile Expandable String Value to <filepath>.

To specify that you do not want to overwrite any previous kernel or complete memory dump files, run the following command or modify the registry value:

  • wmic recoveros set OverwriteExistingDebugFile = 0
    
  • Set the Overwrite DWORD value to 0.

Note

If you contact Microsoft Support about a Stop error, you might be asked for the memory dump file that is generated by the Write Debugging Information option.

To view system failure and recovery settings for your local computer, type wmic recoveros at a command prompt, and then press Enter. To view system failure and recovery settings for a remote computer on your local area network, type wmic /node:<computer_name> recoveros at a command prompt, and then press Enter.

Note

To successfully use these Wmic.exe command line examples, you must be logged on by using a user account that has administrative rights on the computer. If you are not logged on by using a user account that has administrative rights on the computer, use the /user:user_name and /password:password switches.

Tips

  • To take advantage of the dump file feature, your paging file must be on the boot volume. If you have moved the paging file to another volume, you must move it back to the boot volume before you use this feature.

  • If you set the Kernel Memory Dump or the Complete Memory Dump option, and you select the Overwrite any existing file check box, Windows always writes to the same file name. To save individual dump files, click to clear the Overwrite any existing file check box, and then change the file name after each Stop error.

  • You can save some memory if you click to clear the Write an event to the system log and Send an administrative alert check boxes. The memory that you save depends on the computer, but these features typically require about 60 to 70 KB.

References

Varieties of Kernel-Mode Dump Files