Windows Event Viewer Exposes Your Problems

Think you have a finely-tuned Windows machine? Think again. You’ve done everything you’re supposed to do: You’ve kept up on Windows Updates, your hardware drivers are current, and you perform routine maintenance. You computer seems to be running just fine, thank you very much. But have you peeked into that cold, dark keyhole called the Event Viewer in a while? If not, you might be surprised to see that your finely-tuned Windows machine is struggling with countless issues.

The Event Viewer is a place where system admins and users can view the event logs on their computers. The Event Log Service records application, security, and system events. The application log contains errors logged by programs running on your system. The security log records logon attempts, as well as events related to the use of resources, such as the creating, opening, or deleting of files. The system log contains events logged by Windows system components, such as drivers that fail to load during startup.

How To Read The Event Viewer

You can easily get to the Event Viewer in Windows 7 by going to the Start button and typing “Event” in the search box. Click the link that appears for Event Viewer. Or you can navigate through the Control Panel to System and Security, and then under Administrative Tools click the “View event logs” link.

In the left-hand pane you will see Event Viewer (Local) and several folders below that. These include Custom Views, Windows Logs, Applications and Services logs, and Subscriptions. Try Expanding the Custom Views log and click on Administrative Events.

Event Viewer Administrative Events

You might be surprised to find dozens of warnings and errors listed here.

As you highlight each of these, you will see an explanation of the error in the pane below. The General tab will give you a description of the error, as well as an event ID, which will make it easier to look up the problem online. A lot of times, these errors are benign and will have little effect on the performance or stability of your system.

The Event Viewer Concluded

We recommend everyone at least peek at these logs every once in a while. Most of the time these errors and warnings will not require any proactive response from you. But it is good to know what is happening under the hood in Windows. If you are experiencing problems with your computer, this should be one of the first places you look for hints. Take note of the Event ID and look it up online or post it in our forums so we can help you find a resolution to the problem.