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Why Does Windows Crash?

Ganapathi, Archana
Technical Report Identifier: CSD-05-1393
May 20, 2005

Abstract: Reliability is a rapidly growing concern in contemporary Personal Computer (PC) industry, both for computer users as well as product developers. To improve dependability, systems designers and programmers must consider failure and usage data for operating systems as well as applications. In this paper, we analyze crash data from Windows machines. We collected our data from two different sources -- the UC Berkeley EECS department and a population of volunteers who contribute to the BOINC project. We study both application crash behavior and operating systems crashes. We found that application crashes are caused by both faulty non-robust dll files as well as impatient users who prematurely terminate non-responding applications, especially web browsers. OS crashes are predominantly caused by poorly-written device driver code. Users as well as product developers will benefit from understanding the crash behaviors and crash-prevention techniques we have revealed in this paper.