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 Being Prepared for Stop Errors

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PostSubject: Being Prepared for Stop Errors   Tue Dec 23, 2008 12:03 pm

Some useful software and hardware-related techniques can help you prepare for Stop errors when they occur. Stop messages do not always pinpoint the root of the problem, but they do provide important clues that you or a trained support technician can use to identify and troubleshoot the cause.

Prevent System Restarts After a Stop Error

When a Stop error occurs, Windows Server 2003 displays a Stop message related to the problem, followed by one of these events:

• Windows Server 2003 becomes unresponsive.
• Windows Server 2003 automatically restarts.

By default, Windows Server 2003 automatically restarts after a Stop error occurs, unless the system becomes unresponsive. If Windows Server 2003 restarts your system immediately after a Stop error occurs, you might not have enough time to record Stop message information that can help you analyze the cause of a problem. Additionally, you might miss the opportunity to change startup options or start the operating system in Safe Mode. Disabling the default restart behavior allows you to record Stop message text, information that can help you analyze the root cause of a problem if memory dump files are not accessible. Disabling the automatic restart causes a failed system to remain offline until an administrator manually restarts the system. Therefore, you should enable automatic restart on mission-critical servers and on remote servers that cannot be manually restarted.

To disable the Automatically restart option

1. In Control Panel, double-click System, and then click the Advanced tab.
2. Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings.
3. In the System failure box, clear the Automatically restart check box.

If you cannot start your computer in normal mode, you can perform the preceding steps in Safe Mode.

Record and Save Stop Message Information

With the automatic restart behavior disabled, you must restart your computer manually after a Stop message appears. Stop messages provide diagnostic information, such as Stop error numbers and driver names, which you can use to resolve the problem. However, this information disappears from the screen when you restart your computer. Generally, this information can be retrieved after the system is restarted by viewing the System log, as described in “Stop Errors Recorded in the System Log” earlier in this chapter, or examining the memory dump file, as described in “Using Memory Dump Files to Analyze Stop Errors” earlier in this chapter. There are situations where Stop error information is not successfully logged, and therefore it is important to record the information displayed in the Stop message for future reference. Before restarting the system, take the following actions to ensure that you have saved important information.

To record and save Stop message information
1. Record data that is displayed in the Technical information and Driver information sections of the Stop message for later reference.
2. Record and evaluate suggestions in the Recommended user action section. Stop messages typically provide troubleshooting tips relevant to the error.
3. Check the Debug port and dump file status section to verify that Windows Server 2003 successfully created a memory dump file.
4. If a memory dump file does exist, copy the file to removable media, another disk volume, or a network location for safekeeping. You can use Recovery Console to copy the dump file if you are not able to start Windows Server 2003 in normal mode or Safe Mode.

Analyzing memory dump files can assist you with identifying root causes by providing you with detailed information about the system state when the Stop error occurred.

Check Software Disk Space Requirements

Verify that adequate free space exists on your disk volumes for virtual memory paging files and application data files. Insufficient free space might cause Stop errors and other symptoms, including disk corruption.

You can move, delete, or compress unused files manually or by using Disk Cleanup (Cleanmgr.exe) to increase free space on disk volumes.

To run Disk Cleanup
1. In the Run dialog box, type: cleanmgr
2. If you have more than one logical drive, select a disk volume to clean from the Select Drive dialog box, and then click OK. If you have only one logical drive, skip to step 3.
3. Click the Disk Cleanup or the More Options tab to specify files to compress or delete.
For more information about Disk Cleanup, see “Disk Cleanup” in Help and Support Center for Windows Server 2003.

Install a Kernel Debugger and Symbol Files

You can use a kernel debugger to gather more information about the problem. The Debugging Tools for Windows Help contains instructions and examples that can help you find additional information about the Stop error affecting you. For more information about installing and using debugging tools, see “Stop Messages” and “Using Memory Dump Files to Analyze Stop Errors” earlier in this forum.
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