How to obtain a Memory Dump file for diagnostics and troubleshooting

When Windows crashes, it creates memory dump files (aka crash dumps). These files contain a copy of the computer’s memory at the time of the crash. They are often requested by support professionals as a way to help diagnose and identify the problem that led to the crash in the first place.

Windows can create several different types of memory dumps. In most systems, Windows is already configured to create Small memory dump (aka Minidump) files as the default system failure configuration. These files are usually located in C:\Windows\Minidump, unless the path was modified in the system failure settings of Windows.

However, if for some reason Minidump files are not created in your system during a crash, or another type of memory dump is requested by support professionals, you should follow the instructions below to configure Windows to create desired memory dump files.

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type sysdm.cpl ,3 in the box and press Enter to open the System Properties – Advanced window.
  3. Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings... to open the Startup and Recovery options .
  4. In the Write debugging information section, click on the drop-down box and select the type of memory dump file you want Windows to create after a crash occurs.
  5. You can change the Dump file location where the dump file will be written, if necessary. Ensure there is enough disk space on the hard disk drive specified in the path.
  6. If your system crashes quite a bit, and each time it’s because of a different reason you might want to uncheck the Overwrite any existing file option. This will create incremental dump files so that you have a memory dump file for each crash.
  7. Click OK to confirm the settings.

After a crash occurs, locate the dump file and send it to technical support for diagnostics and troubleshooting. By default, a list of all small memory dump files is kept in the folder C:\Windows\Minidump if C: is the system drive. Check the Date created to get the latest file. The default location of other types of memory dumps is C:\Windows\MEMORY.DMP if C: is the system drive.

A paging file on the boot volume is required for generating the memory dump. For small memory dump, the paging file shall be at least 20 MB. For kernel memory dump, the paging file shall be no smaller than 1.5 times the RAM size if the RAM size is not greater than 1,373 MB, or no smaller than 2,060 MB if the RAM size is greater than 1,373 MB. For complete memory dump, the paging file shall be large enough to hold all of the physical RAM plus 1 MB. If current paging file setting does not meet the above requirement, you need to change the paging file setting.

Related Information

[Microsoft] Overview of Memory Dump File Options