Specify what happens when the system stops unexpectedly

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

To specify what happens when the system stops unexpectedly

  1. Open Computer Management.

  2. In the console tree, right-click Computer Management (Local), and then click Properties.

  3. On the Advanced tab, under Startup and recovery, click Settings.

  4. Under System startup, select the Time to display list of operating systems check box, and then type the number of seconds you want the list of recovery options to display before the default recovery option is automatically selected.

  5. Under System failure, select the check boxes that correspond to the actions you want Windows to perform if a Stop error occurs:

    • Write an event to the system log specifies that event information will be recorded in the system log.

      On computers running a Windows Server 2003 family operating system, you cannot disable this feature. Windows always writes event information to the system log.

    • Send an administrative alert specifies that your system administrator will be notified.

    • Automatically restart specifies that Windows will automatically restart your computer.

  6. Under Write debugging information, choose the type of information you want Windows to record when the system stops unexpectedly:

    Small memory dump

    Records the smallest amount of information that will help identify the problem. This option requires a paging file of at least 2 MB on the boot volume of your computer. If you choose this option, Windows creates a new file (64 KB in size) each time the system stops unexpectedly. A history of these files is stored in the directory listed under Small dump directory.

    Kernel memory dump

    Records only kernel memory, which stores more information than small memory dump but takes less time to complete than the complete memory dump when the system stops unexpectedly. The file is stored in the directory listed under Dump file. If you choose 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 (although the maximum amount of space that must be available for a kernel memory dump is 2,060 MB). The following table provides guidelines:

    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

    2,060 MB (maximum amount of data in a kernel memory dump)

    Complete memory dump

    Not available on computers with 2 or more GB of RAM. Records the entire contents of system memory when the system stops unexpectedly. If you choose this option you must have a paging file on the boot volume large enough to hold all of the physical RAM plus one megabyte (MB). The file is stored in the directory listed under Dump file.


  • To perform this procedure, you must be a member of the Administrators group on the local computer, or you must have been delegated the appropriate authority. If the computer is joined to a domain, members of the Domain Admins group might be able to perform this procedure. As a security best practice, consider using Run as to perform this procedure.

  • To open Computer Management, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Computer Management.

  • To perform this procedure on a remote computer, right-click Computer Management (Local), click Connect to another computer, select Another computer, and then type in the name of the remote computer. You can then follow the steps in this procedure, starting at step 2, and substituting Computer Management (remote computername) for Computer Management (Local). You must be a member of the Administrators group, or you must have been delegated the appropriate authority, on the computer that you specify for remote computername.

  • You must have at least a 2-MB paging file on the computer's boot volume if you select Write an event to the system log or Send an administrative alert.

  • If you choose Kernel memory dump, be sure not to set the paging file smaller than the sizes listed in the procedure, or you might not capture the information you need.

  • If you choose either Kernel memory dump or Complete memory dump and select the Overwrite any existing file check box, Windows always writes to the same file name. To save individual dump files, clear the Overwrite any existing file check box and change the file name after each Stop error.

  • When setting memory dump options, check your settings for the size of the paging file on the boot volume. Set the file size according to the preceding guidelines.

    It is recommended that you use the same value for both the minimum size and the maximum size of the paging file. This prevents the file from constantly growing and shrinking, which in turn prevents unnecessary disk fragmentation.

  • Memory dumps might contain sensitive information, so you should store them in a secure location and limit the number of users who can access them. When you transfer a memory dump across the network or send a memory dump over the Internet, always use a secure file-transfer mechanism to guard against the file being compromised by a malicious user.

  • In computers with 8 or more processors that have the maximum amount of RAM installed, you might be able to gain some incremental performance improvement by splitting the paging file into multiple paging files. Each paging file must be on a separate physical disk and for reliability, each disk must be part of a hardware RAID-5 volume. For more information about changing the size of the virtual memory paging file, see Related Topics.

  • You can save memory by clearing the Write an event to the system log and Send an administrative alert check boxes. The memory saved depends on the computer, but these features typically require about 60 KB to 70 KB.

  • If you contact Microsoft Product Support Services about a Stop error, they might ask for the memory dump file created when the Stop error occurred.

Information about functional differences

  • Your server might function differently based on the version and edition of the operating system that is installed, your account permissions, and your menu settings. For more information, see Viewing Help on the Web.

See Also


Specify the default operating system for startup
Change the size of the virtual memory paging file
Perform a local or remote shutdown