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Advanced Diagnostic Tools in Windows 7

Event Log

Everything that happens in Windows 7 from user log-ins to program component failures that the users never even know about is logged and recorded. You would be amazed by how much information is stored in the Event Log. The two most important views, however, are the ones where you will see most Windows 7 errors recorded.

In the Event Viewer, you can find all the events and errors that Windows 7 has recorded on your computer by clicking Event Viewer (Local), then clicking Windows Logs, and then clicking System. Warnings are highlighted with yellow triangles, and errors are indicated with red icons, as shown in Figure 14-4.

Figure 14-4

Figure 14-4 Event Viewer showing system activity and errors

In Figure 14-5, notice the error highlighted in the first line of the Administrative Events pane. Below the list is a description of this PrintService error that includes enough information to help you track down the source of the problem and fix it.

Figure 14-5

Figure 14-5 Administrative errors in the Event Log

Another useful place to see errors listed in the Event Log is under Event Viewer (Local)\Custom Views\Administrative Events, as shown in Figure 14-6. These errors include events for which you or Windows didn’t have permission to perform the specified action.

In the bottom pane of the Event Viewer are two tabs, General and Details. By default, the General tab is selected, and here you find general information about errors and events. You can get much more information by clicking the Details tab. You can also expand this panel upward to read more.

This information can be useful if you need to send specific data about an error to a third-party support person. You can cut and paste it into an email or select an option from the right pane such as Save Selected Events to email.

Figure 14-6

Figure 14-6 Formatted error information, which you can send to third parties

How to Read the Event Log

By default, the events in the Event Log are ordered by date. If your computer has recently encountered an error, you can check for it by date and time. It’s probably near the top of the event list. The Event Log provides essential information about the source of errors, helping you diagnose problems much more quickly than you could by trial and error.