Tracing call stacks in SQL Server – Installing the Debugging Tools for Windows (WinDbg) on Windows 8.1 and generating debug symbols for SQL Server binaries

Where to get the debugger tools

To generate the needed symbols you will need the “Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows 10” download here: and click “Download the standalone SDK”

  • I like to select the Download option and pick “Debugging Tools for Windows” this will download all of the installation files

How to install the debugger tools 

The installation of this software is very straight forward, Then find in the downloaded files \Windows Kits\10\StandaloneSDK\Installers\X64 Debuggers And Tools-x64_en-us.msi and install the debugger and install the tools with the default settings. 


Generating the symbol files for SQL Server

Once installed you will need to generate the symbols, below are two commands one for the SQL Server executable and one for all of the dlls that are in the SQL working directory. Paul Randal @PaulRandal recommends a tip in his blog for using *.dll to gather symbol data on all the dlls in the directory at the expense of time and a small amount of disk space.

  • Change into the BINN directory

  • cd C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Binn

  • “C:\Program Files\Windows Kits\10\Debuggers\x64\symchk.exe” sqlservr.exe /s SRV*c:\symbols*

  • “C:\Program Files\Windows Kits\10\Debuggers\x64\symchk.exe” *.dll  /s SRV*c:\symbols*

Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding performance or other SQL Server related issues at: