Stuff You Never Knew Existed
(or The Arcane Hall Of Fame)
Windows XP - Home, Media, and Professional Editions

Did you know that behind the scenes Windows keeps log files of things going on with your computer? No! No! It's not spying on you. There's a lot of information you can use if you're having problem with with your computer or a certain application.

For instance, we're beta testing a new HTML editor from Microsoft called Web Expressions (really original name eh?). Anyway, it's beta software and because it's beta software it is a subject to crashes and problems.

Here's log that was kept by Windows for a very short session using Web Expressions:

ID: 20, Application Name: Microsoft Expression Web Designer, Application Version: 12.0.4407.1003, Microsoft Office Version: 12.0.4407.1005. This session lasted 71 seconds with 60 seconds of active time. This session ended with a crash.

This tells you that:

1. The session was short and sweet (60 seconds)
2. The session ended with a crash (So, what else is new - it's beta software!)

Here's another one. It's from an Avast Event log:

Sign of "Win32:Trojan-gen. {Other}" has been found in "C:\Documents and Settings\TC\Desktop\FireDLL.dll" file

I really didn't have a Trojan on my computer, I was running a test file to see if Avast was on the ball - and it was - as you can see. Avast detected and blocked this test "Trojan". I breathed a sigh of relief and had a cup of coffee - secure in my knowledge that recommending Avast is a still a good thing to do!

This is just an example of the stuff you can find if you look. But, you've got to know where to look. Oh yeah! You probably want to know where to dig this stuff up, right?

Click on Start, then Control Panel, and then Computer Management.  Under "System Tools" (in Computer Management) click "Event Viewer". Depending on which applications you have installed on your machine, you'll find several items listed in the menu under "Event Viewer".

Feel free to browse around in there and take a look. You can't hurt anything and you might find some interesting things have been going on that you didn't even know about.

There may or may not be (on your computer) useful information that can be helpful to resolve a software problem on your computer. Regardless, at least now you know that these event logs exist and where to find them. Their usefulness depends on what software you have installed and the kinds of logs that are kept. But learning new things about your computer is what makes computers fun. We hope you've learned something here you didn't know before!

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