Windows Vista’s built in diagnostics are a quantum leap forward from anything we ever saw in XP. The Windows Diagnostic Infrastructure (WDI) uses logic to analyze the output from Vista’s internal software routines, which then helps you to troubleshoot your computer problems. Once you summon Vista’s diagnostics, they can often resolve a fault automatically. If that strategy fails, the troubleshooter then shows you a list of possible actions that will help you in solving the problem on your own.
Each area of Vista has its own diagnostics and depending on feedback from the built in resolver, Vista can call upon an event based diagnosis, an on-demand diagnosis or a counter based diagnosis. Here are the five main areas that are patrolled by Vista’s diagnostics:
- Network Diagnostics and Troubleshooting
- Disk Diagnostics
- Memory Diagnostics
- Resource Exhaustion Prevention
- Event Logs
Network Diagnostics and Troubleshooting
When an XP machine lost its network connection, you merely got an error message. But now, if a Vista machine loses connectivity, the response is much more intelligent and pro-active. When you call for the Network Troubleshooter, the first thing it does is try to restore the connection automatically. If that fails, the Network Diagnostics then presents you with a list of repair options.
Under the covers, Vista consults the Network Diagnostics Framework (NDF). As you may guess, the new NDF technology extends to wireless diagnostics as well.
Vista Disk Diagnostics
Hard disks usually show warning signs before failure, which, in the past, were merely logged in the system event log. Windows Vista, however, has built in diagnostics that specifically listen for these messages. The troubleshooter not only alerts you of them, but it also suggests data backup and disk replacement techniques.
One reason for using an up to date kit is that new hard disks include SMART technology (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology). So, naturally, Vista listens in and acts upon these SMART messages. It is claimed that Vista can even detect applications experiencing bad block problems and it is able to silently restore the corrupted data from the backup, presumably using the Volume Shadow Copy service.
Vista Memory Diagnostics
The Vista Memory Diagnostics monitors the memory hardware. If the built in Vista diagnostics finds an error, it will alert you and ask you to run a more exhaustive analysis with the Windows Memory Diagnostic tests. If Vista can contact MOCA (Microsoft’s Online Crash Analysis), it can then check if an error is due to failing memory. The software can then prompt the user to perform memory diagnostics, which will run detailed tests on your RAM modules. Even more, MOCA and Vista can do all of this without requiring an additional download or separate boot disk. That’s incredible!
Resource Exhaustion Prevention
Resource Exhaustion Prevention monitors disk, memory, processor time and network bandwidth. When any of these four crucial resources approach its limit, Windows Vista warns users that their applications may experience problems. The Resource Exhaustion Prevention monitor then presents the user with a list of the top consumers, which also helps you to identify the source of the problem.
Being good at troubleshooting is easy. I mean, all you have to do is read the logs! Seriously, all that separates the professionals from the amateurs is the ability to read the logs. To state my case another way, Vista’s built in diagnostics and troubleshooters reward those who look in the logs for clues to the root of their problem. Here is one more way you can look at the Event Logs and troubleshooting techniques. That is, if there are no logs corresponding to your problem. Otherwise, you might be in trouble! However, if there is an entry, someone out there has seen your situation before and there should be a solution waiting for you.
Now, don’t be put off by previous bad experiences of Event Logs. Vista is very clear and it’s the most comprehensive to date. To view them, click on the Start button and type “event viewer” in the Start Search dialogue box. Begin by scanning the Overview and Summary section and then seek out any Critical Events that may have happened in the last 24 hours. You’ll then be good to go!
Hope you find this to be very informative and helpful for your Vista journey!
~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami