In the last post of my Windows Error Reporting Series, I discussed the question of whether it makes sense to disable Windows Error Reporting or not. Today, I will explain how you can configure this controversial Windows feature in Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. I will also show how you can manage Windows Error Reporting with Group Policy.
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Disable Windows Error Reporting in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 ^
In Windows 7, you can disable Windows Error Reporting in the Action center (Control Panel\System and Security\Action Center). In the sidebar click "Change Action Center settings" and then click the "Problem reporting settings" link at the end of the Action Center applet. You can also start typing "problem reporting" in the Windows Start Menu search prompt and then click "Choose how to report problems."
The four options appear to speak for themselves (see screenshot), but, I think, at least two of them are a bit misleading. The default setting is "Automatically check for solutions" and the second option is "Automatically check for solutions and send additional report data if needed." I guess most people believe that with the first setting no error reports are sent to Microsoft. However, when I checked my Problem Reports, I realized that in most cases Windows Error Reporting has sent error reports to Microsoft, anyway. It is unclear to me what the "additional report data" in the second option means here.
I think, Microsoft should be more transparent with the information that Windows Error Reporting sends to Redmond. The link "What information is sent" at the top of the Problem Reporting Settings applet is commendable; however, the corresponding information that is provided in the Windows help file is, in my view, insufficient.
Hence, if you want to be on the safe side, you should choose the last option "Never check for solutions." Note that you can also change the setting for all users of this computer and you can also select programs to exclude from reporting in the Problem Reporting Settings applet.
Disable error reporting in Windows Vista and Server 2008 ^
The Advanced Settings of the Problem Reports and Solutions applet in Windows Vista offer similar options as in Windows 7 (see screenshot). You can find it in the Control Panel (Control Panel\System and Maintenance).
Disable error reporting in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 ^
Error reporting in Windows XP is a bit simpler than in Vista and Windows 7 (see screenshot). It contains one feature that I miss in the Vista and Windows 7 error reporting applets--you can change the settings independently for Windows and third-party programs. You access the error reporting settings through the Advanced tab in the System Properties applet, which you can find in the Control Panel.
Disable Windows Error Reporting through Group Policy ^
Of course, you can also manage Windows Error Reporting through Group Policy. It is interesting to note that Group Policy offers more options than the corresponding Control Panel applets (see screenshot). For example, you can configure a central store for the error reports for all your machines.
The Windows Error Reporting setting in Group Policy can be found under Computer Configurations\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Error Reporting.
I didn't cover all Windows Error Reporting features in this series. For additional information, you can read the detailed descriptions of the Group Policy settings. More details can also be found in this Technet article.
By the way, if you want to test Windows Error Reporting settings, you can use the free tool Bad Application. The main purpose of this really useful utility is to crash itself.