Use GPOs to manage error reporting in Windows

Using Group Policy Objects, Windows administrators can keep system errors in-house.

Microsoft has built into Windows 2000, XP, and .NET a mechanism by which problems with the OS and installed software are reported back to Microsoft. This information is used to develop patches and hotfixes to improve the functionality of these OSes.

However, depending on your environment, you may not want this mechanism to operate outside of your control. Fortunately, there are several controls within group policy to manage this feature.

The controls for the error reporting service are found in the Computer Configuration section of the Active Directory GPO in the Administrative Templates, System, Error Reporting folder.

The Display Error Notification control determines whether or not users are granted the option to decide if errors are reported when they are encountered. When this control is enabled or not configured, a pop-up dialog box appears each time an error occurs prompting the user whether or not to report the problem to Microsoft. When this control is disabled, that dialog box is not displayed.

The Report Errors control is used to turn the entire error reporting service on or off. When off, no errors are reported to Microsoft. When on, errors are reported and the display of the error reporting dialog box is controlled by the Display Error Notification control.

There are five additional controls in the Advanced Error Reporting settings folder.

The Default application reporting settings control determines whether errors are reported from the operating system components only, from Microsoft application software only, both, or neither. This does not control OS specific errors.

The List of applications to always report errors for control is used to define the collection of applications who's errors are always reported.

The List of applications to never report errors for control is used to define the collection of applications who's errors are never reported.

The Report operating system errors control determines whether OS specific errors are reported to Microsoft.

The Report unplanned shutdown events control determines whether unplanned shutdown events, such as power loss or STOP errors, are reported to Microsoft.


James Michael Stewart is a partner of ITinfo Pros, Inc., a technology-focused writing and training organization.


This was first published in November 2002

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