Slow symbol loading in Visual Studio while debugging

A while ago I was having trouble while debugging in Visual Studio 2010. Each time my debugger had to load symbols to the dll’s I used it went really slow, sometimes even took minutes (or felt like minutes) before I could start debugging. This could not do on my all powerful development machine!

To google!

As with most of life’s problems (or at least most of life’s programming related problems) an answer could be found on stack overflow.
It turned out my experiments with WinDbg where at the root of the problem. In order to get it to load symbols I added some environment variables (‘_NT_SYMBOL_PATH‘ and ‘_NT_ALT_SYMBOL_PATH‘).

Now, Visual Studio has a nice settings screen dedicated to symbol loading, but if you have these environment variables set on your system, it just ignores them. Good stuff…

So after removing both these settings I could debug as fast as lightning again!

I haven’t needed WinDbg since then, so maybe I’ll run into trouble again if i need to use that again. But instead of using WinDbg i’ve used the sos.dll (which I used to debug memory leaks) from inside of Visual Studio, which worked out nicely…


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