My Windows-based PC just crashed (hardly surprising given all the rubbish I have installed on it recently – despite all of the bad press that Windows attracts, I maintain that a well-patched and well-managed Windows NT, 2000, XP or Server 2003 system will generally be reliable).
In the past, if this has happened, I have ignored the message about error reporting (“yeah, yeah, yada, yada – I need to get back to work and did I manage to save that document I was working on before it crashed?”… etc.) but this time I let it report the problem – and I read the results. It was even useful.
You see what happens, is that if I experience a blue screen crash event, or stop error, while using Microsoft Windows XP (or later), I can upload the error report to the Microsoft Online Crash Analysis (MOCA) site for analysis (Microsoft say this is “to further improve the quality and reliability of Windows”). They then analyse the error report and prioritise it based on the number of customers affected by the error in the report. They then try to determine the cause of the error submitted, categorise it according to the type of issue encountered, and send relevant information when such information is identified.
What I like is that, using MOCA, I can check the status of the error report for 180 days and this time it told me that my system “crashed because the random access memory containing Windows program code was corrupted. Microsoft is unable to determine if this corruption was caused by a hardware or software issue. The nature of the corruption suggests that a hardware issue is more likely. To determine if this is the case, Microsoft developed a Windows memory diagnostic that tests your PC memory. We recommend you download and run this tool on your computer system”.
Sure, so the Windows memory diagnostic tool didn’t find any memory errors so I still don’t know why the PC crashed, but at least it feel like someone actually cares and is trying to fix things… much better than just getting a blue screen of death (or even a red screen of death!).