You can delve into the Microsoft Windows 7’s Event Viewer to track down issues you are having with hardware and software, but doing so requires effort as well as an understanding of what you are looking at. Fortunately, Windows 7 comes with a host of troubleshooting tools, such as Event Viewer, Resource Monitor, and Reliability Monitor, that you can use to help diagnose all sorts of problems.
For more information on these troubleshooting tools, see my articles:
- Better troubleshooting capabilities with Windows 7 Event Viewer
- Learn how to use the Windows 7 Resource Monitor for effective troubleshooting
- Track stability in Windows 7 with the Reliability Monitor
One of the other tools that you can use is called the System Diagnostic Report, which is a part of Performance Monitor and can display the status of hardware resources, system response times, and processes on your computer along with system information and configuration data. The neat trick with the System Diagnostic Report is that you can use it to gather troubleshooting information on-the-fly while the problem is occurring.
In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I’ll show you how to use the System Diagnostic Report to gather troubleshooting information on-the-fly. I’ll then examine the resulting report.
This blog post concerns Windows 7, but the System Diagnostic Report for Vista was covered several years ago.
Running the report
You can run the System Diagnostic Report from the Advanced Tools section of the Performance Information and Tools app in the Control Panel. However, you can run it much quicker by typing the following command in the Start menu’s Search box.
Then press [Enter]. As soon as you do so, you’ll encounter a UAC and will need to respond accordingly. You’ll then see the Reliability and Performance Monitor window shown in Figure A.
Once you initiate the report, you’ll see Resource and Performance Monitor window.
As you can see, the Report Status section indicates that System Diagnostics will be collecting data for 60 seconds. At this point, you can initiate the procedure or task that is causing the problem. If you are successful in recreating the problem condition while System Diagnostics is collecting data, information pertaining to the problem will added to the report.
As a test, I connected a USB 8-in-1 card reader that I’ve been having some trouble with, while System Diagnostics was collecting data. After 60 seconds, the Report Status section indicates that System Diagnostics is generating the report, as shown in Figure B.
Once the collection operation is complete, the report will be generated.
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As soon as the report is complete, it will appear in the Resource and Performance Monitor window, as shown in Figure C. Any error conditions that existed or that occurred while System Diagnostics was collecting data will appear in the report.
Once the report is complete, it will appear in the Resource and Performance Monitor window.
As you can see, while System Diagnostics was collecting data it picked up and recorded information about the USB 8-in-1 card reader. This information is displayed in the Error section. System Diagnostics also picked several other problems that I wasn’t aware of.
The warning section contains five pieces of information:
- Symptom: This is basically an internal error message. System Diagnostics configures it as a link that you can use to get to a more detailed section of the report.
- Cause: This is a description of the error condition.
- Details: This provides more detailed information on the error.
- Resolution: This provides you with a basic set of instructions on how to fix the problem.
- Related: This provides you with links to articles on the Microsoft Web site that cover the problem.
When I clicked on the links in the Related area, I encountered a Windows Vista Help and How-To page and non-existent Microsoft TechNet page. Unfortunately, it appears that Microsoft has dropped the ball with these links.
However, when I clicked on the Symptom link in the error section, the report jumped down to the Controller Classes section, as shown in Figure D. Here I found several property names that made good search terms in Google. It ended up that I just needed to update the device driver for the USB 8-in-1 card reader.
The Symptom link will take you to more detailed information within the report.
What’s your take?
Have you used System Diagnostic Report as a troubleshooting aid? If so, did you find it useful? Will you use it in the future? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.