Getting useful dump files from TAC Vista

Issue

R&D may need better dump files than those automatically created by the Windows operating system, in the event of TAC Vista crashing or hanging.

Product Line

TAC Vista

Environment

Troubleshooting

TAC Vista server

TAC Vista Workstation

TAC Vista OPC Server

Cause

When TAC Vista crashes or hangs PSS will often ask for dump files to enable R&D to gain insight into what was happening when the system stopped working. Sometimes these dump files are created automatically and it is also possible to capture a dump from a hanged process (Win 7 and 2008 Server and newer) by right-clicking on the process in task manager and selecting "Create Dump File". However the dumps created are "User Mini Dump Files with Full Memory". This is often not enough for R&D to get to the root of the problem.

There are better tools available for this and one of those is ProcDump which is part of the Windows SysInternals Software Suite (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/dd996900.aspx). On the ProcDump site the tool is described as:

"ProcDump is a command-line utility whose primary purpose is monitoring an application for CPU spikes and generating crash dumps during a spike that an administrator or developer can use to determine the cause of the spike. ProcDump also includes hung window monitoring (using the same definition of a window hang that Windows and Task Manager use), unhandled exception monitoring and can generate dumps based on the values of system performance counters. It also can serve as a general process dump utility that you can embed in other scripts."

Resolution

1. Install ProcDump from the Windows Sysinternals suite.

2. With the Vista server running, start a command prompt. Drag and drop procdump.exe onto the command prompt.

Here are a couple of examples to get started. A full list of the commands and types of dumps available is available by clicking on the link above.

Example 1 - take a full memory dump immediately if the server is hanged or in the process of crashing,

 After completing step 2, type:  [space]-ma tacos.exe 

 

Example 2 - monitor the tacos.exe process so that a crash dump is created when tacos crashes.

After completing step 2, type:  [space]–e -ma tacos.exe

Note! Don’t close the command prompt as this will exit the process monitoring and no dump will be created!

Tip: If you want to change the directory first, you can, for example, type cd C:\Dumps at the command line. Then drag and drop procdump on to the DOS prompt do the steps detailed above.