A couple weeks ago a co-worker asked me if it was possible to recover text from a hung application. The user had spent a good amount of time typing into text field and upon trying to submit the information, IE became hung and would not recover. The user didn’t want to have to retype everything from scratch again. The short answer to this is yes. The long answer is “Yes, if you can be patient.” I have never actually needed to perform this myself because it’s not always that practical and, to be honest, the task can be somewhat tedious. But if you really need to recover text and Word didn’t auto-recover or Outlook lost the draft after you clicked send, or IE is in the process of a “GUI crash”, then turn to the power of the dump.
The idea here is if the application is still running but stalled, it still resides in memory, along with anything you typed into it. When you dump the process, you are dumping its presence in memory to a file that you can pick apart. Dumping a hung process is simple enough. On an XP system, open Process Explorer, right-click the process, and choose Create Dump. In Vista & Windows 7, this option is now built into the Task Manager. You can then copy the dump to a system where WinDbg is installed to open it.