Secret Azure Debugging Tools

Secret Azure Debugging Tools

I recently stumbled on a blog post by Kevin Williamson that talks about a utility, used by Microsoft's internal support teams, that collects together a good selection of debugging tools in one package so you can do investigations over RDP on an Azure PaaS instance.

From that post:

  • RDP to the instance
  • Open a PowerShell console
  • Paste and run the command

Import-Module BitsTransfer; 

[string]$ToolsFolder = 'c:\tools'
[string]$ToolName = 'AzureTools.exe'
[string]$AzureToolsUrl = "$ToolName"

New-Item $ToolsFolder -Type directory -Force | Out-Null
Start-BitsTransfer $AzureToolsUrl "$ToolsFolder\$ToolName"
& "$ToolsFolder\$ToolName"


This should automatically start the AzureTools.exe and show the following UI:

first ui

Clicking on one of the items in the Tools list will download and install that tool from the URL. Download progress is shown in the bottom half of the window:


One of the most useful tools from the point of view of a developer trying to troubleshoot a worker role is using a debugger to attach to a process. Azure Tools comes with an installer for windbg (which for download and install is much better than a full Visual Studio install).


WaWorkerHost is the process responsible for hosting WebRole instances. When Windbg starts you get the full capabilities of a debugger and a trace client for OutputDebugString calls.


Obviously, this is only just scratching the surface of all the goodness that the team have made available so I'm sure I will report back on other utilities as time goes on.

I'd also like to recommend Kevin's other posts in this series, particularly the troubleshooting scenarios: