How to Create a Kernel Memory Dump File

If in the rare event your Windows PC is crashing, generating the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSoD), Windows will try and create a "dump file" that contains diagnostic information about what caused the crash that developers can use to diagnose the problem.  In most cases, BSoDs are caused by faulty or failing hardware, like RAM or a hardware driver that has caused a low-level fault resulting in the operating system halting.


By default, Windows creates a small or "mini dump" file that contains some of the information about the system crash to identify the possible root cause, but not all of the information required for developers to do a complete problem analysis.  In order to collect the necessary information, you must manually configure your Windows operating system to do a kernel memory dump.  The file is stored in the Dump File box (%SystemRoot%\Memory.dmp by default)

There are some perquisites for this type of dump file to be created on your system, you must have a sufficiently large paging file on the boot volume. The required size depends on the amount of RAM in your computer (although the maximum amount of space that must be available for a kernel memory dump on a 32-bit system is 2 GB plus 16 MB; on a 64-bit system, the maximum amount of space that must be available for a kernel memory dump is the size of the RAM plus 128 MB). The following table contains guidelines for the size of the paging file:

Required Paging File Size for Kernel Memory Dump
 RAM Size  Paging file should be no smaller than
 256 MB–1.373 MB  1.5 times the RAM size
 1.374 MB or greater 

 32-bit system: 2 GB plus 16 MB
 64-bit system: size of the RAM plus 128 MB 

If your system fails to create a kernel memory dump when you have a BSoD, then the problem is usually a paging file that is too small.

How to Configure Windows to Create a Kernel Memory Dump

  1. Right-click My Computer or Computer, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Advanced tab, and then under Startup and Recovery, click Settings (or Startup and Recovery).
  3. Under System Failure, click to select the following check boxes for the actions that you want Windows to perform if a system error occurs
    • Write an event to the System log option specifies that event information is recorded in the System log. By default, this option is turned on.
    • Automatically restart option specifies that Windows automatically restarts your computer. By default, this option is enabled.
    • Write Debugging Information, select the Kernel Memory Dump option
    • Check the Overwrite any existing file check box

      4.  Click on the OK button to complete the setup.

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