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Vista Event Viewer

Vista Event Viewer

One of the first places you probably turn to when troubleshooting problems in Windows XP is the Event Viewer, right? As you may know, the Event Viewer maintains logs that record information about program, security and system events that occur on your computer system. While XP’s Event Viewer is an effective tool you can use to view and manage your event logs, gather information about hardware and software problems, as well as, monitor security events, it does have its shortcomings. Perhaps the biggest drawback is it does such a good job of logging events that the number of items in the log can be staggering. Therefore, sorting through the logs can be very daunting. Also, not all of the events are well documented and many aren’t documented at all, which often leaves even the most experienced troubleshooter puzzled.

Another drawback in the system stems from the fact that Windows XP has other logs that are stored as text files on the hard disk. This means that when you’re trying to troubleshoot problems, you may have to scan through a bunch of text files in addition to scanning through the Event Viewer logs.

Fortunately, Windows Vista’s developers have spent a great deal of time and effort on improving the Event Viewer! Let’s take a closer look.

A Tour

To begin, Vista’s Event Viewer has been completely rewritten with a new user interface that makes it much easier to filter and sort events, as well as, control which type of events are logged in it. In addition, you can now perform some basic diagnostic tasks right from within the Event Viewer itself. Windows Vista’s Event Viewer will be the central point of inquiry for all the operating system’s logs. More specifically, the operating system components that store the logging information in text files will add events to the event log in Vista.

Other new features in the Event Viewer allow you to create and save custom views so that you can easily focus in on the problem you are currently troubleshooting, you can now create event subscriptions that can collect information from other computers on a network so that you can more easily correlate problems that affect multiple computers and you can now assign tasks that are to run when a certain event occurs.

Let’s take a look around the new Event Viewer in Windows Vista. As you can see in the first image below, the new user interface provides access to more pertinent information than Windows XP’s Event Viewer, as shown in the second screenshot below:

As you look at Vista’s Event Viewer, you’ll notice that the left pane contains an expandable tree that provides you with easy access to all of the Event Viewer’s logs. The two main categories are Windows Logs and Applications and Services Logs. The Windows Logs category includes the logs that were available in Windows XP, such as the Application, Security and System logs, while the Applications and Services Logs are a new category of event logs that store events from a single application or component.

In the center is the View pane that provides you with an easy way to view both the list of events, as well as, the information that each event contains, as shown below:

On the right side of the Event Viewer is a new area called the Actions pane, which contains a list of actions, or commands, that are associated with the Event Viewer. As you can see by comparing the images provided, the Actions pane changes to provide relevant tasks, depending on what is selected.

To make focusing on specific events easier, you can also create a Custom View that essentially allows you to create a very detailed event query that can span over several logs. To help you create a Custom View, the Event Viewer provides you with a very detailed form, as shown in the first screenshot below. Once you have created a Custom View, you can then save it and reuse it later.

Attaching tasks to events is also a great troubleshooting feature. To make this a simple procedure, Vista’s Event Viewer employs the Task Scheduler Wizard and provides you with several relevant actions to attach to the event, as shown below:


In addition to providing improved performance and a new user interface, the Windows Vista Event Viewer provides you with a whole slew of new features to make troubleshooting a much easier task. Yes!

~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami