While Event Viewer, which provides a shortcut to the Event Viewer section of Computer Management, has been a part of Administrative Tools since the Windows XP days, Windows 7's version (which is based on Windows Vista's version) provides a much better interface than its Windows XP counterpart as well as a much more detailed view of your system.
Windows 7's Event Viewer (refer to Figure 4) includes three panes:
- Use the left pane to select the information to view from the Custom Views, Windows Logs, Applications and Services Logs, and Subscriptions.
- The center pane displays information about the selected node.
- The right pane (Actions) enables you to create open saved logs, create custom views, locate selected events, and get help.
Digging Into Your System with Event Viewer
When you start Event Viewer, the center pane displays an overview of your system. The Summary of Administrative Events portion displays statistics for the last hour, 24 hours, and last seven days for errors, warnings, information, and audit success events (Figure 4).
Figure 4 Opening the Event Viewer.
Click the plus (+) sign next to a category to see individual events. Double-click an event to open it in the center pane.
When you open an event, the right pane offers additional options for the event, including the ability to attach a task to the event, such as sending an email when another event of the same type takes placea serious error, for example (Figure 5).
Figure 5 Viewing action options for an error event
Reviewing Windows Logs
Open the Windows Logs folder to see log entries for applications, security, setup, system, and forwarded events.
Here are some examples of how to use these logs:
- Use the Applications log to find out when a service starts or stops, or to troubleshoot problems with services such as Backup.
- Use the Security log to determine whether logon and logoff security is working.
- Use the Setup log to determine when Windows updates were installed.
- Use the System log to learn about maintenance activities, problems with transaction logs, and system uptime.
- The Forwarded Events log lists events you are sharing with other systems.
Reviewing Applications and Services Logs
Windows 7, like Windows Vista, breaks out Applications and Services Logs into their own folder in Event Viewer. Media Center, Windows PowerShell, and Microsoft Windows all have separate logs, as do hardware events, Internet Explorer, Key Management Services, Windows Backup, and other Windows utilities.
By opening the Backup/Operational log, you can see the status of recent Windows Backup jobs. Open the log for a specific Windows 7 feature (Microsoft>Windows>featurename) to see when the feature was used or last reported problems (Figure 6).
Figure 6 Viewing an error reported by Windows Backup