This documentation is archived and is not being maintained.

How to: Use a Symbol Server 

You can use a symbol server to allow Visual Studio to automatically download the proper symbols for debugging your Visual Studio project.

Microsoft maintains a public symbol server for developers at This server is for symbol download only. It is not browseable. This server provides symbols for various operating systems, such as Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003, as well as MDAC, IIS, ISA, and the .NET Framework.

In addition, you may have a local symbol server set up on your Intranet or on your local machine.

To use a symbol server, you specify the path to the server in the Visual Studio options, as described in the following procedure. For more information, see How to: Specify a Symbol Path.

You can remove paths from the Symbol file (.pdb) locations list in the Options dialog box. For more information, see How to: Specify a Symbol Path.


Make sure the symbol server and its path are trustworthy. Otherwise you may become exposed to security threats.

To set a path to a symbol server

  1. On the Debug menu, click Options.

  2. In the Options dialog box, open the Debugging node, and click Symbols. For more information, see How to: Specify a Symbol Path.

  3. Edit the text to add a new path to the symbol server.

    • To use the Microsoft public symbol server, enter: 
    • To use an intranet symbol server, enter:

    • To use a symbol server on your local machine, enter:

  4. Make sure Search the above locations only when symbols are loaded manually is not selected unless you want to load symbols manually when you debug.

  5. If you are using symbols on a remote symbol server, you can improve performance by specifying a local directory that symbols can be copied to. To do this, enter a path in the Cache symbols from symbol server to this directory box. To connect to the Microsoft public symbol server, you need to enable this setting. Note that if you are debugging a program on a remote machine, the cache directory refers to a directory on the remote machine.

  6. Click OK.

  7. If you are using the Microsoft public symbol server, an End User License Agreement dialog box appears. Click Yes to accept the agreement and download symbols to your local cache.

See Also