Neat .NET 2.0 StackViewer to troubleshoot hangs/performance issues

Bret wrote a post about Managed Stack Explorer, a really nice tool that was developed in 2006 but since then seems to have been forgotten.

It’s excellent if you want to troubleshoot hangs/performance issues in a process but don’t want to go through the hassle of getting and analyzing a dump.   What it will do is basically attach, snap the .net call stack and detach so you can see what all the .net threads are doing without using a debugger.


What is even cooler is that you can copy/run the tool from anywhere which means that you can copy it to a clients machine if you have a runaway thread in a win forms app for example. 

Have a nice weekend,


Comments (13)
  1. Thank you for submitting this cool story – Trackback from DotNetShoutout

  2. What's New says:

    Bret wrote a post about Managed Stack Explorer , a really nice tool that was developed in 2006 but since

  3. Hi ,

    Its really a nice post. Lot of times we had performance issues and tried using diagnostic tools. But this seems to ease our work



  4. suma says:

    It seems it does not work with 64bit .net application. 😐

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  6. Greg says:

    Thanks for the tip.

    A related question I’ve failed to find an answer for over the years: How in .NET (i.e. a managed app) can the amount of used Stack memory space be measured? Back in the good ol’ 16-bit days there was a cool tool called Heap Peep which showed the stack and heap space usage.

    I got bit big time a few years back when we moved to IIS 6 and – surprise! – the available stack space was 1/4 of what was available in IIS 5, 256MB instead of 1GB for normal processes.

    I have some recursive routines for which I’d like to measure the stack space used.

    Thanks for all your great posts.


  7. Greg says:

    Thanks for the tip Tess. Most of what was discussed in that post and subsequent comments I’ve figured out since we had the issue – except for modifying the W3WP.EXE, which I cannot do in my customers’ production environments.

    But do you know HOW I can measure my actual stack consumption in managed code – via code or some tool? We have all these great tools for heap measurement, there’s got to be something to measure stack usage.

    Thanks again.


  8. Tess says:

    I’m not sure that there is a way at runtime.  If you get a dump at the right time you can look at it in windbg

    !teb on the current thread will give you the thread environment block where you can find the StackBase for the current thread (in this case 70000)

    0:000> !teb

    TEB at 7ffdf000

       ExceptionList:        0006fc6c

       StackBase:            00070000

       StackLimit:           00065000

       SubSystemTib:         00000000

       FiberData:            00001e00

       ArbitraryUserPointer: 00000000

       Self:                 7ffdf000

       EnvironmentPointer:   00000000

       ClientId:             0000263c . 0000249c

       RpcHandle:            00000000

       Tls Storage:          00000000

       PEB Address:          7ffd5000

       LastErrorValue:       0

       LastStatusValue:      103

       Count Owned Locks:    0

       HardErrorMode:        0

    r will give you the registers where you can find the esp (extended stack pointer) telling you where you are now

    0:000> r

    eax=00000000 ebx=00000000 ecx=000004d2 edx=00001f68 esi=000001b8 edi=00000000

    eip=7c8285ec esp=0006fc0c ebp=0006fc7c iopl=0         nv up ei pl zr na pe nc

    cs=001b  ss=0023  ds=0023  es=0023  fs=003b  gs=0000             efl=00000246


    7c8285ec c3              ret

    and taking base-esp gives you the number of bytes you are using for the stack

    0:000> ?00070000-0006fc0c

    Evaluate expression: 1012 = 000003f4

  9. Greg says:

    Thanks for the WinDbg technique. I can do that :).

  10. Eric Schneider says:

    Looks nice, but does not work on Vista Home Premium, I get some kind of install problem.

  11. GillouX says:

    you can find here a 64bits version…/AttachmentDownload.ashx

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