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When you get a fatal error, you're often prompted to send the information to Microsoft. Then what?

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This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.info.

After a program crashes in Microsoft Windows, you're often given the opportunity to send information about the crash back to Microsoft. The question is should you, and what should you expect if you do?

Should you is easy: sure, go ahead. There's no harm in doing so. In fact some Microsoft team members have blogged about how useful the information is to them.

Now, I know that there are paranoid folks out there who think this is some component of a Microsoft tracking conspiracy, but I sure don't believe that. Microsoft's just not that organized, trust me. But if that's the way you feel ... well, then don't send. It's really not that big a deal.

The real issue is what to expect next.

I'll tell you this: don't expect a quick fix.

I'd expect at least a couple of things to be needed before Microsoft acts on error reports. First, the problem needs to be in Microsoft's software. Many crashes are caused by software that Microsoft doesn't own. Microsoft may make the information available to the other manufacturer, but whether they accept it or act on it is anyone's guess.

Second, it needs to be a real and very common problem. And by very common, I'd expect that millions of people would have to experience the exact same issue before Microsoft would prioritize it high enough to act on in anything you and I would consider to be a short time.

So why report it at all? As I said - prioritization. The more people that report a problem, the higher it will hopefully go on Microsoft's list of things to fix. When? Good question. Unless it's in that "millions of reports" category I wouldn't expect something to get fixed until the next service pack - if it's serious - and perhaps the next version of Windows if not.

Many people seem to have the expectation that reporting a problem will result in an immediate, or near immediate solution. Especially if they repeatedly experience the problem and report it each time.

It just doesn't work that way.

Report the problem - hopefully you'll be helping make the next service pack or version better. But after you've reported it, keep looking for your own fix and your own way around it, because if there's going to be a fix from Microsoft you probably won't see that fix any time soon.

I'd love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.info and enter 11256 in the go to article number box and leave me a comment. While you're there, browse over 1,000 technical questions and answers on the site.

Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.info.

Article C2967 - March 19, 2007 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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11 Comments
deyaa fahmy
March 23, 2007 10:23 PM

I'll tell you this: don't expect a quick fix.
As to me that is enough.
thank you.

Geoff Walker
March 23, 2007 10:25 PM

I would add that it's important to send the info to Microsoft *when the error is a surprise*. Sometimes when my computer gets totally bogged down (too many programs that all want 100% CPU and 100% I/O), I use TaskMgr to kill one or more non-responding programs. Every time I kill a non-responding Microsoft program, I am offered the opportunity to send the info to Microsoft. I don't do it because it's not a real error; it's something that I know I caused.

Ann Brodsky
March 24, 2007 4:50 AM

Thanks Leo
I appreciate the answer. It was pretty much what I thought happened. Although I did look for an instant remedy from microsoft.

Catmoves
March 24, 2007 2:48 PM

It's a total effort in frustration sending an error report to Microsoft. You will NEVER get a reply, you will NEVER get help and why should you bother helping the money makingest gang on the Internet make even more money? Maybe I'm old fashioned but I would expect at least a thank you note. I turned off reporting a long while ago. If they want my help they can pay for it.

Petet Baxter
March 25, 2007 9:32 PM

I am very new to computers, so I send the error,and several times I have got answers back with some helpfull things to try, sometimes the answers are too teck for me so I pass.This dose not happen every time but I am very thankful when they do.

Carlos
March 26, 2007 8:03 AM

Call it conspiracy theory if you want, but there are several fairly reputable claims of Microsoft PURPOSELY configuring their software to break competitors' software running on Windows. (Remember the old purported MS slogan "DOS ain't done til Lotus won't run"). Just in case its still true, why should I help Microsoft figure out how to possibly better hobble competing products?

Neb Radojkovic
March 30, 2007 6:29 AM

I have a problem with MS Error report every time I check my email in Outlook. Tried everything but it wouldn't go away. Any suggestion?
Thanks.
Regards,
Neb

Nishant
October 21, 2008 1:43 AM

HI Leo
Well I just bought some 2DVD games pack (sorry but those were pirated copies comes with crack folder etc.) these games are easily available in market. All most every games after successfully installation gives me this "Send Dont send error" when I run it, to my surprise it is working on other systems perfectly

I always check and found everytime my PC configuration satisfy more than what it is required, I dont have internet in my home PC, any idea what could be the possible reason.

Regards
Nishant

ruggles
November 18, 2008 11:54 PM

nishant , i also get those errors with most of my games which work on other systems. please reply if u get a solution to this problem

Alexwkj
December 30, 2008 1:33 AM

Hi Leo. Good job in writing this short article. Just want to ask, is sending error reports free of charge?

Of course.
- Leo
30-Dec-2008

Adrienne
March 28, 2009 1:22 PM

I'm actually trying to ASK a question related to "Send Error Report" rather than comment. I look forward to your reply. It's almost a month now, and every time I log out of Outlook, the screen appears: Send Error Report. Why suddenly, out of the blue, and every single time at log out? And, yes, I have been diligent and have been sending the error report every time. Please HELP! and thank you very much.

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