Should I send Microsoft an error report when my program crashes?

Applies to
Microsoft Office System 2003
Microsoft Office XP

Error reporting improves the software for everyone

Have you ever used a Microsoft Office program that suddenly closed or crashed? That was really annoying, right? And then you saw a dialog box similar to the following dialog box, and you asked yourself, "Should I click Send Error Report?" The answer is yes, and the reason is simple. You play an important role when you allow a confidential and anonymous report of the error to be sent to Microsoft because the data in the report is used by software developers to fix the software — it is never used for marketing or other purposes; and you will not be personally identified.

Because people like you have sent in thousands of reports over the years, Microsoft has been able to identify and repair countless defects that otherwise might not have been discovered. The plain truth is that error reporting improves the software for everyone.

Error reporting notification dialog box

What's in the error report?

Each error report contains the details needed for software developers at Microsoft to analyze the problem so the bug might be fixed. An error report includes information about the Office program you are running and the actions that caused the problem. Additionally, the error report contains:

  • System information     Data about the processor (CPU), hardware, and operating system that you are using.
  • Application information     Details about the condition of your computer and the Office program just before the problem occurred, including data stored in memory.

In rare cases of problems that are especially difficult to solve, some registry settings and one or more files from your computer might be needed to help solve the problem. If this is the case, the error reporting tool will ask for your permission to send these files before they are transferred.

What about my privacy concerns?

Before you choose to send the report, you can view the data that the report contains by clicking the click here link at the bottom of the dialog box. Although you cannot modify the report, you can choose not to send it if you think that it might contain sensitive information.

 Important   Although some information about your identity might be collected unintentionally, you are not personally identified. The data in the report is used only by software developers to improve the software by preparing product updates. The data contained in error reports is not used for marketing or other purposes. For more detailed information, read the Microsoft Data Collection Policy.

In addition, the report is sent from your computer to Microsoft through a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) connection to increase security and privacy.

How effective are error reports in improving the software?

Getting these reports makes software developers really happy, and the following chart shows why. Look at the shape of the curve. After studying crash-related data for several products, a very clear trend has emerged. The worst 1 percent of the defects reported cause half of all errors. About 20 percent of the defects cause 80 percent of all errors. This means that Microsoft developers and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) can apply resources to fix the highest priority issues first. So your vote does count. It's quite possible the fix will benefit you and many other users through subsequent Office updates available at Downloads on Office Online and in new versions of Microsoft Office System.

Error reports chart

How long does it take to send a report?

If you choose to send the error report, you see another dialog box that tells you the report is being prepared and transferred. After the transfer is complete, you might see a third dialog box that lets you know that the error-reporting process is complete.

Error Reporting dialog box

Error Reporting confirmation dialog box

Although in rare instances error reports might be larger, most reports are about 100 to 200 kilobytes (KB) in size. On a 28.8 kilobytes per second (Kbps) dial-up modem, the report takes approximately one and a half minutes of transfer time. On faster network connections, such as those found in most corporate environments and schools, the transfer time is much faster. The report can be transferred in the background while you work on other projects on your computer.

After the error report is transferred, the information in your report is automatically analyzed to determine if an update is available. If there is a solution to the problem you have just experienced, you see a final dialog box with a link to the solution or update. To receive details about the update from the Microsoft Knowledge Base on the Product Support site, click the More information link.

Applies to:
Access 2003, Excel 2003, FrontPage 2003, InfoPath 2003, OneNote 2003, Outlook 2003, PowerPoint 2003, Publisher 2003, Word 2003