Published by Marco on 25. Jan 2013 13:39:08
Updated by Marco on 26. Sep 2016 21:12:37
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"tl;dr: if you can't read the BSOD message or need to examine the minidump files
generated by Windows when it crashes, use the "BlueScreenView"
 utility to view them.
Windows 8 kept crashing on shutdown for me because of an errant 56K modem
driver. Sad -- so sad -- but true."

My Windows 8 installation went off with just one hitch: the machine crashed on
shutdown. Every. Single. Time. This made it impossible to use the hibernation
feature, which was a blocker issue for a laptop.

So, how to solve the issue? Well, the first step is to read the error message,
right? In this case, the crash was a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) so you can't
copy the message or take a screenshot of it. You can take a picture if you're
quick on the draw: for the last several versions, Windows has been extremely shy
about crashing and will hurriedly restart before the user even realizes what has
happened.

[image]That means you have to be fast to read the message, but it used to be
possible. With Windows 8, though, the BSOD message has been improved to show a
little sad face and a message that tells the user that Windows is gathering
information related to the crash and will restart shortly. In the example to the
right, you can see that the small text reads HAL_INITIALIZATION_FAILED. In the
example, though, the error message takes up the whole screen; in my case, the
blue area was limited to a 640x480 block in the center and the fine print had
been scaled down into illegibility.

That tiny bit of text holds the salient nugget of information that can help a
veteran Windows user solve the problem. This was, needless to say, quite
frustrating. The Event Viewer showed nothing, which wasn't unusual in the case
of a full system crash -- how would it be able to write an error message?

The system would still boot up fine and was perfectly usable, so I could search
for help in finding that elusive message. Every halfway-useful page I found
quickly ended in a forum moderator instructing users to upload their "minidump"
files so that a Microsoft employee could examine them.

That wasn't acceptable, so I searched for help on how to read mini-dump files
myself. Microsoft's instructions ran to multiple steps and installation of
low-level debugging software. Frustrated, I jumped into a conversation called
"Blue Screen error delivers unreadable instructions (font too small); how to
increase fontsize in Blue Screen?"

which also featured an unhelpful answer. Luckily, someone responded almost
immediately with a tip to use the "BlueScreenView"
 to read mini-dump files.

Within seconds I'd found out that my crashes were caused by a driver file called
CAX_CNXT.sys. A few more seconds and I'd found out that this was the driver for
the 56K modem on my laptop. I disabled that device with extreme prejudice and
restarted the machine. No crash. Problem solved. It took longer than it had to,
but now my machine has been running stably on Windows 8 for days. And lacking a
modem driver hasn't affected my workflow at all.

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This article originally appeared on "earthli News"
 and has been cross-posted
here.