Why is Windows 7 bluescreening?

After upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7, I never thought I’d see the old blue screen of death again. Wishful thinking in action 🙁

About a month ago my Windows 7 Ultimate computer started crashing with a blue screen of death whenever I connected a USB drive. The short-term solution was simple – find other ways to transfer files around. Long term, though, that was no good. I needed to find a real solution.

I noticed that whenever Windows crashed, it was outputting what it called a “minidump” in C:\Windows\Minidump. I didn’t have anything installed that could open the dump files, though, and the Microsoft Debugging Tools webpage seemed to suggest that you needed an MSDN subscription to get the tools for Windows 7. Luckily, it was just misleading/plain old wrong – the link for “Windows Vista or Previous Versions” is equally valid for Windows 7.

You can download WinDbg, the tool we’re going to use, here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=8279 Click the download button, run the program once it’s downloaded and then select the Debugging Tools option under Common Utilities.

Once you’ve got that installed, we want to make it easy to load. From an elevated command prompt (Start -> type “cmd” -> right click on the “cmd” entry and click “Run as administrator”):
cd C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows
windbg.exe -IA
WinDbg is now set to open when you double click on a .dmp file.

Now, we need to copy the crashdump out of C:\Windows\Minidump and into a folder where you don’t need admin right to read from it. Then double click on it and let’s see what WinDbg has to say.

Aha! It’s PDFsFilter.sys, a driver (surprise, surprise). A quick Google search later and I’ve found the perp – Raxco PerfectDisk, which I installed just before the crashed started, come to think of it. I uninstalled it and now I can mount USB drives again. Horray!

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