To troubleshoot Exchange Server hangs or crashes, Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) might require that Exchange debugging symbols be installed on your system. Debugging symbols let PSS engineers view global variables and function names in dump files created by Exchange processes, helping the engineers to identify the root cause for a crash. You can install Exchange debugging symbols from the Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2000 installation CD-ROM under the folder \Support\Symbols\i386. The Setup program installs all the necessary symbols in the correct locations on the server. Note that no downtime is required, and you don't need to take Exchange services offline to install the symbol files.

By default, Dr Watson creates a mini crash dump and doesn't generate a symbol table, but Microsoft recommends that you edit these settings. To do so, open a command line and enter

drwtsn32.exe

Set the crash dump type to Full and select the check box to enable Dump Symbol Table, as Web Figure A shows. By default, Dr. Watson stores files in a folder in the profile for the user running Dr Watson. (My default folder path for Dr Watson files is C:\Documents and Settings\morrisseyd\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Dr Watson.) I suggest that you change the location for crash dumps and log files to F:\diagnosis\drwatson, as Web Figure A shows, so that you can more easily locate debugging files, and so that the files don't take up space on the system drive.

I recommend that you install Exchange debugging symbols on an as-needed basis. If you choose to install them as part of a standard Exchange build, take the following factors into account:

  • Debugging symbols must be loaded into memory with the executable files, which has a small effect on performance. For servers that have more than 1GB of memory and multiple processors, the performance hit will be negligible.
  • For every Exchange service pack and hot-fix installation, you must update symbol files to match the updated executable files. Such updating increases the systems management overhead associated with applying service packs and hot-fixes.