Crash Dump Analysis Patterns (Part 92)

Sometimes the functionality of a system depends upon a specific application or service process. For example, in a database server environment it might be a database process, in printing environment it is a print spooler process or in a terminal services environment it is a terminal services process (termsvc, hosted by svchost.exe). In system failure scenarios we should check these processes for their presence (and also the presence of any coupled processes), hence the name of this pattern: Missing Process. However, if the vital process is present we should check if it is exited but references to it exist or there are any missing threads or components inside it, any suspended threads and special processes like a postmortem debugger. We shouldn’t also forget about service dependencies and their relevant process startup order. For example, we know that our service is hosted by svchost.exe and we see one such process exited but its object still referenced somewhere:

0: kd> !vm

*** Virtual Memory Usage ***
         0ed8 svchost.exe          0 (         0 Kb)

However, another command shows that it could be a different service hosted by the same image, svchost.exe, if we know that ServiceA depends on our service:

0: kd> !process 0 0
PROCESS 8b581818  SessionId: none  Cid: 0004    Peb: 00000000  ParentCid: 0000
    DirBase: bff4d020  ObjectTable: e1001e18  HandleCount: 1601.
    Image: System

PROCESS 8b06d778  SessionId: none  Cid: 01a8    Peb: 7ffde000  ParentCid: 0004
    DirBase: bff4d040  ObjectTable: e13eae40  HandleCount:  22.
    Image: smss.exe


PROCESS 8aabed88  SessionId: 0  Cid: 0854    Peb: 7ffd6000  ParentCid: 0220
    DirBase: bff4d4a0  ObjectTable: e1c867a8  HandleCount: 778.
    Image: ServiceA.exe


PROCESS 8aaa6510  SessionId: 0  Cid: 0ed8    Peb: 7ffd4000  ParentCid: 0220
    DirBase: bff4d580  ObjectTable: 00000000  HandleCount:   0.
    Image: svchost.exe


Another alternative is that our service was restarted but then exited. If our process is not visible it could be possible that it was either stopped or simply crashed before.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ -

One Response to “Crash Dump Analysis Patterns (Part 92)”

  1. Dmitry Vostokov Says:

    Another example, is a gui message wait chain directed to a window that once belonged to no longer running process

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