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I have SQL Server Express 2008 installed on a Windows 7 (32-bit) developer workstation. Whenever I run an application that accesses SQL Server the Windows 7 shell hangs when the application closes. Applications like Windows Explorer and Task Manager become completely unresponsive. The task bar will not allow any interaction. The only way to recover the system is to power cycle.

Two of the applications in use when this happens are NUnit and SQL Server Management Studio. NUnit always runs the unit tests that interact with the database fine. SQL Server Management Studio will sometimes cause the problem while trying to explore the database.

The Windows event log does not show any events that are obviously connected to the problem.

I have reverted and reinstalled SQL Server Express 2008 several times.

What can be done to identify what is causing SQL Server Express 2008 to hang the Windows 7 shell?

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There's a little-known Windows registry setting you can enable that allows you to force a blue-screen crash by hitting Ctrl-Scroll Lock twice.

Maybe try enabling this, cause the system to hang, nuke it in order to force the memory dump, and look around the stack trace(s) with WinDbg after rebooting. That might give you more interesting results than trying to pick apart a hosed system in real time with Task Manager or Process Explorer or whatever.

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This is an interesting technique. The computer that was experiencing this problem has been replaced. I've not seen it on any other system. I'll try to remember to use it in similar situations. Thanks. – Mike Chess Feb 10 '11 at 21:45

Your first step is to try & capture some performance data when the error occurs.

Try running sqlprofiler to see what sql server is doing when the computer hangs.

Also try running a Performance Monitor capture to see what your system resources are doing.

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That's the trouble; I'm not able to get information about what is going. Task Manager doesn't show any spikes in CPU or memory usage when the shell hangs. The sqlprofiler you mention ceases gathering data when Management Studio hangs. – Mike Chess Feb 5 '10 at 14:48
When you say hang. you mean freeze & you perform a hard-reboot? possible hardware issues? have you checked your RAM is ok? – Nick Kavadias Feb 6 '10 at 4:12
Yeah, power cycling is the only way to get the system back. This is a recent phenomena. It goes away when I revert the system to a state prior to the installation of SQL Server 2008 Express. – Mike Chess Feb 6 '10 at 8:04
can you get the application running ok on another machine? – Nick Kavadias Feb 6 '10 at 9:13
There is one other developer running Windows 7. He's running the 64-bit version. SQL Server Express 2008 runs without issue on that system. – Mike Chess Feb 6 '10 at 15:40

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