There's a great free
util from 'Resplendence Software' for helping to diagnose BSOD issues. No techy knowledge or debugging skill is required, but you do need to make sure that crash dumps are enabled on your computer (default setting for most people). The program examines any crash dumps that are present (usually in C:\Windows\Minidump) and generates a report which is brief - but to the point - revealing the drivers responsible for crashing your computer.
I was a tad reluctant to install WhoCrashed at first. Although it's only a 700 kb download, the program does make reliance upon the Windows Debugging Package (WinDbg) from Microsoft. Most people will probably not the have MS package installed, but WhoCrashed will download and extract it automatically if necessary (I opted instead to manually download the correct package for my system from Microsoft - which was a 16.9 MB installer).
I'm still a dial-up user, and I've been hampered by ZA related BSOD problems ever since the 8.0 Branch of Zone Alarm software. WhoCrashed informs me that it's actually my modem driver itself, which is causing problems with Zone Alarm. An example report:
On Wed 03/06/2009 15:07:23 your computer crashed
This was likely caused by the following module: smserial.sys
Bugcheck code: 0x1000000A (0x16, 0x2, 0x0, 0x804DBDA3)
file path: C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\smserial.sys
product: Motorola SM56 Modem
company: Motorola Inc.
description: Motorola SM56 Modem WDM Driver
Although WhoCrashed does qualify it's reporting by saying that it's not always possible to state with certainty whether a reported driver is really responsible for crashing your system or that the root cause is in another module....I had suspected myself that the modem driver was
likely culprit (a conclusion I'd arrived at earlier, after many wasted hours
trying unsuccessfully to ID the source, by selectively disabling most of the other drivers on my system). I
wish I knew about WhoCrashed then!
a happy aside, WhoCrashed has accelerated my putting the wheels in motion for a long-overdue upgrade to broadband
- AT LAST! Although I'm using the 'latest' version of my modem drivers,
I have to acknowledge that it's rapidly becoming outdated technology. For me, the simple report above has justified
installing WhoCrashed on my system, along with
the Windows Debugging Package. I most likely will never use the MS package as a standalone (which does require some techy awareness), and hopefully I won't need to know WhoCrashed on my system again for a while. But I'm reassured in the knowledge that next time I encounter problems, some helpful diagnostics are now one click away!