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Dump files, previously called crash dumps, allow you to save program information for debugging later. The Visual Studio debugger can load dump files created by Visual Studio or by other programs that generate dump files. You can also save dump files, but only from native applications.
Dumps can be especially useful if you are testing a program on a machine that does not have source files or PDB Files (C++). When a crash occurs, you can save a dump file on that machine and debug it later on the build machine or another machine that has the source files and PDBs.
There are several ways to create a dump:
While you are debugging a native process in Visual Studio, you can save a dump from the Debug menu. For more information, see How to: Save and Open Dump Files.
If you have Just-In-Time debugging enabled, you can attach to a crashed process that is running outside the debugger, break the process, and then save a dump file. For more information, see How to: Save and Open Dump Files.
You can create a dump by using the UserDump utility, which is part of the OEM Support Tools package. You can download a copy from http://download.microsoft.com/download/win2000srv/Utility/3.0/NT45/EN-US/Oem3sr2.zip.
You can create a dump by using the Autodump+ (AD+) utility, which is part of Microsoft Debugging Tools for Windows. You can download Debugging Tools for Windows from Windows Hardware Developer Central at http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/DevTools/Debugging/default.mspx.
The Visual Studio debugger can read dump files that contain information about managed code, unmanaged code, or a mixture of both.
For native code, you can use the normal debugger windows to view dump information.
For managed code, you cannot use the normal debugger windows to view dump information. Instead, you must use a tool called SOS that displays information in the Command window. For information, see SOS.
The following sections contain additional information about debugging a dump: