What is the deal with the 'Error Reporting' in WinXP?

Question

I get a "send an error notice to Microsoft" question that I must see pop up 10+ times a day...and then it shuts the window I am viewing? What is it and how can I stop it?

- Mike

Answer

This question was answered on March 18, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Microsoft has the nearly impossible challenge of trying to create and maintain operating systems, such as Windows XP, that will work on virtually unlimited combinations of hardware and software.

Any two identical machines that leave the factory on the same day will become quite different as soon as the end users start to use them Everything that gets added including printers, scanners, digital cameras, networking gear, firewall programs or even a simple screen saver will modify how Windows works.

These variables are generally what cause most of us our computer problems If we were all willing to use the same printer with the same software and the same scanner and so on, there would be fewer problems to solve, but that isn’t realistic.

In the past, Microsoft’s primary feedback for problems was when they got a phone call from a frustrated user, who often couldn’t give them any real specific details.

To improve the quality and quantity of information about errors in Windows XP, Microsoft added a reporting mechanism that would give users the option of instantaneously sending error information to their engineers.

Some believe that it is possible for private information, such as passwords or other user specific information to be transmitted to Microsoft along with the technical info of what was happening at the time of the error.

If you want to see what is going to be sent, simply click on the link in the Window, but chances are it will just look like a bunch of technical jargon.

If you are getting the box that asks if you want to send an error report that often, you clearly have a major problem with your Windows installation.

Turning off the error sending option is easy but it isn’t going to fix your problem, it just won’t notify you whenever you are experiencing it It would be like disconnecting the ‘check engine’ light in your car without actually checking the engine first.

In any case, to turn off the reporting option click on Start, Control Panel then on the ‘System’ icon or you can right-click on My Computer, then on Properties either of which should open your System Properties dialog box.

Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab then look for the ‘Error Reporting’ button towards the bottom.

To disable all error reporting, simply click on the ‘Disable error reporting’ radio button but I highly recommend that you leave the checkmark in the ‘But notify me when critical errors occur’ box.

Since you are experiencing so many errors, before you disable the reporting you may want to experiment with what Windows XP reports on Remove the check mark from ‘Programs’ so that you will only get the report option if the error is in the Windows operating system

If the number of errors slows or stops completely, then reverse the checkmarks so that it will only report on errors in Programs You can even limit the actual programs that it will report on so you can narrow it down to a specific one.

Again, this won’t solve any problems, but it will help you to at least know where the errors are being generated from…

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on March 18, 2004