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How to: Use a Symbol Server

Updated: March 2011

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Visual Studio can download debugging symbol files from a symbol server.

Symbol servers that you might use include:

  • The Microsoft public symbol servers, which provide symbols for Windows operating systems in addition to MDAC, IIS, ISA, and the .NET Framework.

  • A third-party symbol server, which provides symbols for third-party DLLs used by your code.

  • An internal symbol server on your own network.

  • A symbol server on your own local computer.

The locations of the Microsoft symbol servers are known to Visual Studio. You do not have to enter their locations before you start to use them, but you do have to enter a cache location. This cache location is a local directory where the downloaded symbols are stored for performance reasons.

Visual Studio connects to the Microsoft symbol servers automatically when you click Microsoft Symbol Servers. This command is available from a button in the Options dialog box or on the shortcut menu in the Modules window.

For other symbol servers, you must specify the location before you use them.

NoteNote

If you use a symbol server other than the Microsoft public symbol servers, make sure that the symbol server and its path are trustworthy. Otherwise, you might become exposed to security threats.

To use the Microsoft symbol servers

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.

  2. In the Options dialog box, open the Debugging node, and then click Symbols.

  3. On the Symbols page, go to the Symbol files (.pdb) locations box and select Microsoft Symbol Servers.

  4. Specify a symbol cache directory by one of the following methods:

    • In the Cache symbols in this directory box, type a directory path, or

    • Click the ellipsis (…) button. Then use the Browse for Folder dialog box to select a directory.

  5. Click OK.

To download Microsoft public symbols manually

  1. Right-click in the Modules window.

  2. Point to Load Symbols From, and then click Microsoft Symbol Servers.

    This procedure works only if you have performed the previous procedure to set a local symbols cache location.

    NoteNote

    Do not place your symbol cache in a protected folder (such as the Windows folder (for example, a sub folder of C:\Windows). Use a read-write folder instead.

To set a path to a local or third-party symbol server

  1. On the Debug menu, click Options.

  2. In the Options dialog box, open the Debugging node, and then click Symbols.

  3. Click the folder icon above the Symbol file (.pdb) locations box.

    This action creates a new entry in the Symbol file (.pdb) locations box. The entry is initially blank, showing only a flashing cursor where you can begin typing.

  4. In the Symbol file (.pdb) locations box, type the path to the symbol server.

    • For a symbol server on the Internet, type:

      http://domain/path/symbols
      
    • For a symbol server on your local network, type:

      \\server\path\symbols
      
    • For a symbol server on your local computer, type:

      c:\path\symbols
      
  5. (Optional) To improve performance, specify a symbol cache directory if you have not done so already:

    • In the Cache symbols in this directory box, type a directory path, or

    • Click the "…" button, then use the Browse for Folder dialog box to select a directory.

    For local and third-party symbol servers, specifying a cache directory is optional. It is recommended, however, to improve performance.

  6. Click OK.

Date

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Reason

March 2011

Added note not to use windows folder.

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