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Understanding and Eliminating System Errors


2.31. To get a first impression of what is going on filter on Critical, Error and Warning reports to determine repeating errors. Non-repeating errors are normally best ignored. When a repeating error has been identified add the Event ID to the filter. If the log goes back in time far enough this can reveal when the error first occurred. If there is not an obvious explanation for the report check what others have discovered using Google and examine all reports shortly before the report under investigation. It may help to do this for more than one occurrence.

2.32. When examining Event Viewer System log reports it can help to focus on a limited time period (say 1 hour) between start time (Event 12) and shutdown (Event 13). Event 12 and 13 reports are not generated in Windows Vista and earlier. To get a limited time period click Filter Current log. The first line in the Filter Current Log after the Tabs, is Logged, click the arrow down to the right of Any time and select Custom Range from the drop down menu. Click the arrow down to the right of First Event and select Events On and enter the Start time. Repeat for the To Last Event and enter the last event time for the hour session and click OK. Check the boxes before Critical, Error and Warning and click OK.

2.33. It can help to copy and paste reports into a text file like Word. Right click on the report in the list and select Copy as Text. Edit out extraneous detail leaving the Log Name, Source, Date, Event ID, and Description. Often the most important part is the first 2 / 3 lines of the Description with the remainder not contributing anything particularly helpful. Using this procedure enables you to focus more directly on what the report is saying. The core part of the Description should be used in Google to look for solutions and explanations. You can use this document to record notes about what you are able to discover about the meaning of the report. Do not always expect immediate solutions as often you come across something months later which provides the vital clue to a fix.

2.34. To investigate the error note the exact date and time of the latest error and then look at the information and other reports leading up to the error so that you have a better understanding of what is going on.

2.35. When examining reports look for key expressions like "file missing". You need to may need to reinstall or to remove a redundant start-up entry. The expression  "failed to start" will highlight a service that has "failed to start". You then need to check the properties of the service, and services that the service is dependent on. In many situations you are looking for breaks in a chain or process. Further notes on Services are provided here (from Paragraph 7.5). Use
Autoruns to remove File not found entries in the StartUp entries. In Autoruns click the Everything tab and look for the rows highlighted in yellow.

2.36. An alternative and simpler way to post copies of single Event Viewer reports to a Forum when seeking help follows. Access Event Viewer and double click on the error you want to copy. Select the Details tab and check the box before XML View. Click on the Copy button to place a copy on your Clipboard and close Event Viewer. Now start your message and paste into the body of the message. Make sure this is the first paste after exiting from Event Viewer.

2.37. Currently Google is the best way to research the meaning on a report. Use Advanced Search with part of the description as the search criteria. Limit results to those within the last year and you will usually find others reporting similar occurrences. Pass by the promises of “Fixes” from software providers peddling registry cleaners as they will lead to creating new problems in addition to the one you already have. Disregard the malware removal sites as these generally do not provide solutions to system errors, unless you have a malware problem.

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