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Mark Russinovich Does It Again: IE Crash Diagnosed

I’ve been a tremendous fan of Windows maven Mark Russinovich for over a decade now. In addition to his fabulous SysInternals utilities, he’s done more for me (and most other ordinary Windows users) to help make Windows more transparent and understandable and rather less opaque and mysterious, than just about anybody else around. Case in point: his recent blog entitled “The Case of the Random IE Crash.”

Here, he puts his detailed understanding of how the Windows debugging environment works to catch (and ultimately kill) the cause of an IE error message I’m sure far too many of us have also seen on our desktops:

A problem! What problem? Mark gets to the source and exterminates the problem...

A problem! What problem? Mark gets to the source and exterminates the problem...

This generic error message has to be one of the most vexing kind that show up, because you lose access to a running program (and one you’re probably using at the moment of failure) and can’t directly tell what’s up. Mark explains that this occurs because IE 8 runs multiple processes (one per open tab, in addition to a parent IE process) and then goes on to show you how to find the offending culprit, and start tracing symptoms back to causes. He next finds the faulting thread, then describes how to chase down unattributed DLLs to put a name on otherwise unnamed potential culprits. Ultimately, he tracks the cause back to the Yahoo Toolbar and, presumably, puts that toolbar out of the picture going forward.

His conclusion reads as follows “Using a couple of handy troubleshooting techniques, within less than five minutes I had identified the probably cause of the crash I had experienced…” I might also add that he brought a lifetime of deep knowledge and experience, and an extraordinary understanding of the MS Windows Debugger environment to the situation as well. Would that we could all do likewise!

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