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Symbols Can Not Be Loaded Because Symbol Path Is Not Initialized

If you are new to WinDbg (The Windows Debugger) like I am then you might struggle with some of the initial configuration items. I would suggest you do your best to get through the initial configuration issues so you can troubleshoot your Crash Dump files to analyze the issues on your computer. So far I am really happy with Windows 7 Ultimate  64-Bit though I have had multiple BSOD’s (Blue Screens of Death) which are frustrating. I am now doing what I can to get down to the bottom of each of the crashes so I can do whatever it takes to minimize any crashes and continue using Windows 7. Follow the directions below to configure the path to Symbols needed by the Windows Debugger (WinDbg).

Windows Debugger on Windows 7 Symbol Path Error:


  1. *********************************************************************
  2. * Symbols can not be loaded because symbol path is not initialized. *
  3. *                                                                   *
  4. * The Symbol Path can be set by:                                    *
  5. *   using the _NT_SYMBOL_PATH environment variable.                 *
  6. *   using the -y <symbol_path> argument when starting the debugger. *
  7. *   using .sympath and .sympath+                                    *
  8. *********************************************************************
  9. Probably caused by : Ntfs.sys ( Ntfs+c06c5 )
  11. Followup: MachineOwner
  12. ---------

The above error likely will be displayed when loading a Windows 7 Crash Dump into the Windows Debugger. The issue is easy to resolve though following the directions below so the Symbol Path is set every time a Crash Dump is loaded into Windows Debugger on Windows 7.

Configure _NT_SYMBOL_PATH As A Windows 7 Environment Variable:

  1. Create Local Symbols Folder: First create a new folder in the C:\Windows directory called “SYMBOLS”. The new folders full path will be “C:\Windows\SYMBOLS”
  2. System Properties: Right click on My Computer and select Properties from the pop open menu to display the System Properties configuration window as displayed below.

    Windows 7 System Properties

  3. Advanced System Properties: Now click the Advanced System Settings link located in the left navigation of System Properties to display the Advanced System Properties configuration window as displayed below.

    Windows 7 Advanced System Properties

  4. Environment Variables: Click the Environment Variables button located at the bottom of the Advanced System Properties configuration window to display the Windows 7 Environment Variables configuration window as displayed in the below image.

    Windows 7 Environment Variables

  5. Add _NT_SYMBOL_PATH: Click the New button underneath System Variables to create the _NT_SYMBOL_PATH environment variable for all users. The add new environment variable configuration window is displayed below with the data that you need to enter into each line which includes entering _NT_SYMBOL_PATH for “Variable name” and actual path show in the below code window for “Variable value”.Windows 7 System Variable: Variable Value:

    1. symsrv*symsrv.dll*c:\\Windows\\symbols*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols

    Windows 7: _NT_SYMBOL_PATH System Variable

    Once the data has been entered into the New System Variable window click the OK button to save the _NT_SYMBOL_PATH system variable. You can also OK or X out of each of the other configuration windows that had been opened to get to the New System Variable configuration window.

  6. Open Windows 7 Crash Dump: Close Windows Debugger if it was open already and then launch it again by double clicking on it. Open your Windows 7 Crash Dump file by clicking “Ctrl-D “, browsing to the location of the Crash Dump, and then selecting the Crash Dump you want to open. You will notice in the image below that the Symbol Search Path is now set correctly when the Crash Dump is initialized.

    Windows Debugger Symbol Search Path Set Correctly

Now you should be able to troubleshoot your dump files without having to set the symbol search path each time you load a new dump file. The _NT_SYMBOL_PATH can be set each time you load a dump file by using the below command.

Windows 7: Set Windows Debugger Symbol Path Manually:


  1. .sympath SRV*C:\\Windows\\SYMBOLS*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols

Make sure you have created the SYMBOLS folder though as I am not sure if it gets created automatically. You will notice that the SYMBOLS folder can take up a lot of space quickly so be careful if disk space is an issue on your computer.

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