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Sep 032010
 

One of the things that I deal with reasonably often is crashes of Outlook.  There are lots of ways that Windows can generate crash dumps, that would be useful for us to look at when examining and investigating an Outlook crashing issue.  The best way, in my opinion, is to use the Windows Debugging Tools to generate a crash dump (aka userdump) and then have that analysed.  Here is how to do that :

Firstly you need the Debugging Tools for Windows “installed” on the machine.  There are a few ways of achieving this.  You can download and install the huge file from :

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devtools/debugging/default.mspx

You can install either the new version or the old version on to a test machine, and simply copy the installed folder on to the machine which has the problem (that might help get around change control if it’s in place in the environment)

Next you should launch Outlook

Finally you should run one of these three commands :

  • cscript adplus.vbs –crash –quiet –pn outlook.exe –o c:dumps
  • adplus –crash –quiet –pn outlook.exe –o c:dumps
  • cscript adplus_old.vbs –crash –quiet –pn outlook.exe –o c:dumps

The first is the “old” style command, from the older version of the debugger.  The latter two commands are both part of the new Debugging Tools for Windows.

When you run these commands you will notice CDB (the Command-line Debugger) starts, and for a few seconds Outlook will be a bit unresponsive.  This is whilst the debugger connects.

Once Outlook returns to “normal”, now try to reproduce the problem.  Outlook should crash, as before, and in the c:dumps folder you should get one or more userdump files.  These should be the ones we’re after!

Note: A common misconception is that people think that they can’t produce a dump if they don’t have the symbols installed.  That’s not true.  The dump can be produced.  The analysis is what needs the symbols, and the vendor of the offending product/add-in/software will have those.

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