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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Check for problems using Event Viewer

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A wide range of problems can occur in Windows 7 (and in OS X and Linux, but this tip is for Windows users), and we can put them into two categories: Those that stop a program or even stop Windows and those that occur silently without your knowledge. You may think that Windows is running smoothly, but is it? How do you know? There may be errors and problems that are not so serious to catch your attention, but they occur all the same and they can affect the system in various ways. Fortunately, there is a way to detect these silent and unseen errors and you use a tool called Event Viewer. It is bundled with Windows, but you might not be aware of it. Here's how to run it and how to check for problems.

Click the Start button and type event viewer, then click Event Viewer in the Start menu. A window opens that has several different panes and on the left are different types of event. Expand the Windows Logs section and select Application, Security, Setup or System. When you do this you'll see a list of events in the middle-top pane. Scroll down the list and look for events with an exclamation symbol in a red circle with the word Error next to it. There's bound to be one somewhere, there always is. Click the error to select it and then look in the pane below for information about the error.

Error messages can be complicated and you might not understand everything, but sometimes you can see the name of the program and the reason why an error event was added to the log. You can't fix errors here, but there might just be enough information to point you in the right direction and you might then be able to fix it yourself. It may even be a trivial error that you can ignore. For example, a backup program might have been unable to run a scheduled backup because the USB disk you were using for backups was switched off. Errors really can be that simple sometimes, so it's worth checking the logs from time to time.

Windows Event Viewer

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