Surviving the blue screen of death – How a Hyper-V Windows VPS fatal error was resolved

Surviving the blue screen of death – How a Hyper-V Windows VPS fatal error was resolved

I did nothing. It just crashes all the time!
So began a professional administration request at the help desk of a data center we managed. The customer’s unmanaged Windows 2008 R2 VPS started crashing one fine day without any apparent reason.

The event logs didn’t show anything out of the ordinary. So, the next step was to analyze the crash dump.


Windows servers leave a dump of the memory at the time of crash, which leaves a clue to why the server crashed. The MEMORY.DMP file was loaded into the windows debugging tool, and the following information was revealed:

DEFAULT_BUCKET_ID: VISTA_DRIVER_FAULT
PROCESS_NAME: pdfp.exe

This essentially meant that the application Adobe PDF Viewer with the executable pdfp.exe was causing the crash. Looking further, it became clear that the hardware acceleration settings in the application is conflicting with the display driver installed in the server.

So, although the customer had not installed anything new in the server, enabling the hardware acceleration settings caused the server to crash. Disabling that setting fixed the issue.

Crash dumps can come in very handy to quickly resolve windows errors. In all our managed servers, we ensure Windows Error Reporting is enabled to collect User-Mode dumps in addition to the system memory dump, so that in the off chance that an crash occurs, we can quickly figure out the root cause.

Bobcares systems administrators take care of tech support and infrastructure management for data centers and web hosts. Are you looking for ways to improve your service quality?

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