Error Reporting is on by default in Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1. The service gives Microsoft the ability to track and address errors relating to the operating system, components, and applications. The idea behind the service was that Microsoft would be able to track down bugs and fix them more efficiently and quickly.
Many users do not need or want to take advantage of this feature and would like to turn it off. Many of these users are concerned about what information is being passed on to Microsoft and about their privacy. Other users are just annoyed at how often they see the screen (Figure A) that asks them to submit the bug through the Error Reporting service.
|The Error Reporting dialog box|
The controls to turn off or customize Windows Error Reporting reside in System Settings, located in the Control Panel. (You can also right-click My Computer and select Properties.) In the System Settings dialog box, select the Advanced tab and then click the Error Reporting button to reveal the Error Reporting dialog box shown in Figure B.
|Error Reporting configuration|
From this dialog box, you can disable Error Reporting or customize it to work only on certain programs and/or Windows components.
Once you've disabled Error Reporting, you might as well disable the service entirely, which you can do through Administrative Tools in the Control Panel. Double-click on Services from the Administrative Tools dialog box, scroll down to the Error Reporting entry, and double-click it. From this dialog box, you can stop the service or restart it if you turned if off before.
Apparently, even disabling Error Reporting through the conventional means may not be enough, as VAXenGuy discovered. If you still get error messages after disabling Error Reporting, especially dubious ones, you could disable the service with a Windows Registry edit.
Open the Windows Registry with your favorite editor and navigate to this key:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PCHealth\ErrorReporting
To disable Error Reporting, make sure all of the values located in this key are set to zero.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.