The Event Viewer
In Windows 95, 98 and NT 4/5/5.1/5.2: Type eventvwr.exe at the Start > Run prompt to access the Event Viewer, the central reporting location for Windows. Both third party applications and Windows itself adds entries to this collection of log files to keep you, the system administrator, up to date on important events and errors that occur.
On most machines, the Event Viewer comprises of three separate logging systems, the application log, the security log and the system log. Although not a hard and fast rule, most third party applications will log information to the application log. Windows will log information into both the application and system logs (depending on the type of information logged), whilst a specific subsystem of Windows will log security related events to the security log.
The following screenshot shows a typical Event Viewer display.
In the left hand pane are the available log files, whilst in the right hand pane are the events relating to the currently selected log file. Double clicking on an event in the right hand pane displays further information relating to it in a new dialog.
There are only three types of events logged to any log file: Information, Error and Warning. Information messages are usually benign and can be safely ignored when troubleshooting, except for one. When Windows crashes, an event is written to the system log stating, The previous system shut down was unexpected. For some unknown reason, this is logged as information. Clearly, Microsoft thought a crashing server was nothing to be concerned about!
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