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If you're troubleshooting a problem in Windows XP, you can turn to the Event Viewer to gather information about hardware, software, and system problems. By default, Event Viewer provides you with three kinds of logs: Application, Security, and System. In each of these logs, you'll find any of the following types of events: Error, Warning, Information, Success Audit, and Failure Audit.
When you open an event, you'll see a dialog box that contains basic information about the event such as the date and time on which it occurred, the source of the problem, and the Event ID. In the description field, you'll find additional information about the event. Unfortunately, the Event ID descriptions are often very cryptic—especially those related to the Error and Warning events.
One way to get more detailed information about the Event ID is to click the link in the description field that goes to the Microsoft Online Help and Support Center. Many users are wary about using this link because information is reported across the Internet to Microsoft. However, there's nothing to fear.
When you click the Microsoft Online Help and Support Center link, you'll see a dialog box that shows you exactly what information will be sent and prompts you to confirm. Once you click the OK button, the information is sent to a database and a special Help And Support Center window appears that contains more detailed information about the Event ID. In many cases, you'll find links to related information in the Knowledge Base.
If you still don't like the idea of reporting to a Microsoft database, once you're armed with the Source and the Event ID, you can get the same information that you would if you clicked the Microsoft Online Help and Support Center link by visiting the Events and Errors Message Center on the Microsoft TechNet Web site.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.