The Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) in Windows 10 is no fun for anyone. Oftentimes accompanied by a loud, repeating noise, it throws up a single error code, spins the loading circle, and has you on your way. The only problem is that when they keep happening, many users don't know where to find their BSOD dump file. You can Google the error code furiously, but without information specific to your system, it can be hard to find the root cause.
Thankfully, you can configure Windows 10 to create a blue screen dump files at the location of your choice for easy diagnosis and access. We're going to show exactly how to set up those crash dumps today, but first, a little about what a dump file is.
What is a BSOD dump file?
A dump file, memory dump, or crash dump is a copy of your PC's memory at the time it crashed. Knowing exactly what was in your computer's memory before it departed to the blue realm is naturally useful to discover what caused it.
By default, dump files in Windows 10 are set to ‘Automatic memory dump', which is the same as a kernel memory dump but lets Microsoft do some automatic pagefile management. Kernel dumps contain less information than a ‘complete memory dump', but more than a ‘small memory dump', which holds only basic information like loaded drivers, kernel info, and processes. An Active memory dump is also available, being smaller than complete and containing active memory in kernel and user mode.
In general, a kernel dump is the best medium, with complete dumps in most cases containing much more than is needed. Either way, they're not something the average user will find easy to understand – they're best sent to support or a developer for troubleshooting. Minidumps are also created in Windows 10 on all settings other than “none”, and these are very useful to see the driver files involved in a crash.
Bear in mind that if you want to configure a complete Windows 10 memory dump, you'll need a pagefile at least as big as your amount of available memory. You can see how to optimize your pagefile here.
How to Configure Dump Files in Windows 10 via Control Panel
This is the simplest method, but not necessarily the fastest.
- Open Control Panel
- Click “System & Security”
- Click “System”
- Open “Advanced system settings”
- Open “Startup and Recovery – Settings”
- Choose the desired Windows 10 BSOD dump file type
In the ‘Startup and Recovery' window, tick “Write an event to the system log” and “Automatically restart” under the ‘System failure' heading. Then change the drop-down under “Write debugging information” to BSOD dump file type of your choice. We recommend the automatic setting. Click “OK”.
- Choose your dump file location for Windows 10
You'll be asked to choose a BSOD dump location. The default is %SystemRoot%/MEMORY.DMP, but the dump file location varies for small memory dump:
Dump Type Dump File Location (none) %SystemRoot%\MEMORY.DMP (Greyed out) Small memory dump %SystemRoot%\Minidump Kernel memory dump %SystemRoot%\MEMORY.DMP Complete memory dump %SystemRoot%\MEMORY.DMP Automatic memory dump %SystemRoot%\MEMORY.DMP Active memory dump %SystemRoot%\MEMORY.DMP
How Configure Windows 10 BSOD Dump Files with Command Prompt
Admins value the Command Prompt because it's often faster, and that's the case here, too.
- Open Command Prompt
Press the Start button and type “Command Prompt”, selecting “Run as administrator”.
- Change your Windows 10 BSOD dump type
In the command prompt, type
wmic RECOVEROS set DebugInfoType = x, with x replaced with one of the following numbers:
Dump Type Number (none) 0 Complete memory dump 1 Kernel memory dump 2 Small memory dump 3 Automatic memory dump 7
On success, you'll see the text “Property(s) update successful”.
- Check your memory dump file type
You can verify the change or just check your Windows 10 blue screen dump type with the following command:
wmic RECOVEROS get DebugInfoType
It will return a number. Use the table in the step above to cross-reference.