December, 2013

  • Kirill Osenkov

    Registry keys to configure Watson and automatically save full dumps locally


    You might have noticed that after installing Visual Studio the behavior of crashing programs changes – instead of the standard crash dialog you get the Visual Studio Just-In-Time Debugger:



    The behavior of handling crashing programs can be controlled in the registry:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AeDebug]
    "Debugger"="\"C:\\windows\\system32\\vsjitdebugger.exe\" -p %ld -e %ld"

    If Auto is not set or is set to 0, you get to choose whether to attach a debugger or not:


    If Auto is set to 1, the JIT debugger dialog starts without the prompt above. Visual Studio sets the debugger to vsjitdebugger, which in turn lets you start a Visual Studio instance and attach to the crashing process.

    Windows Error Reporting

    Another useful registry branch that deals with watsons is:

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Error Reporting]

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Error Reporting\DebugApplications]

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Error Reporting\LocalDumps]

    Here’s a good MSDN article that describes these options:

    To turn it off, set DontShowUI to 1 and set Disabled to 1 to stop sending reports to Microsoft.

    Local Dumps

    LocalDumps is interesting. It configures Watson to automatically save a dump of the crashing process in the folder you specify and keep N latest dumps in that folder:


    This is really useful if the process doesn’t show the Watson dialog, you can still get the dump for it. Just open your %LOCALAPPDATA%\CrashDumps folder and you’ll see the latest N dumps (I’ve set it to 32). DumpType is 1 for minimal, 2 for full.

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