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Troubleshooting Hardware, Driver, and Disk Issues : How to Use Built-In Diagnostics (part 1)

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Windows Vista includes several different tools to assist you in diagnosing the source of hardware problems. The following sections describe the most important tools.

1. How to Use Problem Reports and Solutions

With Problem Reports And Solutions, shown in Figure 1, you can track diagnostic results and errors.

Figure 1. You can use Problem Reports And Solutions to track diagnostics results.

To open Problem Reports And Solutions, click Start, click All Programs, click Maintenance, and then click Problem Reports And Solutions. You can then click View Details to view information about any particular problem or result.

To determine whether Microsoft has identified a solution to the problem, select the problem’s check box, and then click Check For Solutions. Problem Reports And Solutions will contact Microsoft servers, submit the error report, and look for a matching solution. Often, there may be no solution for your problem. However, submitting the error report can help Microsoft solve the problem in the future. Microsoft prioritizes problems based on their frequency, so submitting error reports increases the chances that the problem will be fixed.

2. How to Use Reliability Monitor

To view Reliability Monitor, follow these steps:

1.
Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Manage.

2.
Expand Reliability And Performance, expand Monitoring Tools, and then click Reliability Monitor.

The System Stability Chart provides a day-by-day report of any problems or significant changes. To view events that occurred on a specific day, click the day in the System Stability Chart, and then view the System Stability Report for detailed information. You can also click the drop-down list in the upper-right corner, and then click Select All to view a report that contains all events that Windows Vista has recorded.

3. How to Use Event Viewer

Event Viewer provides a central location for operating system and application event logging. On most computers, Event Viewer contains thousands of events, generated by Windows, drivers, and applications. Most of these events can be safely ignored. However, when troubleshooting problems, you should examine the Event Log to find events that might be related to your problem. It is entirely possible that no events will be related to your problem, however, because not all problems may initiate an event.

To open Event Viewer and view hardware-related events, follow these steps:

1.
Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Manage.

2.
Under System Tools, expand Event Viewer.

3.
Under Event Viewer, expand Windows Logs. Then click System.

4.
In the Actions pane, click Filter Current Log.

5.
In the Filter Current Log dialog box, select the Critical, Warning, and Error check boxes. Click OK.

Browse through the displayed events. Most of the events will not be related to your problem, but it is important to evaluate each event to determine any potential impact. In particular, pay close attention to events with a Source of ACPI or PlugPlayManager, or another Source related to the hardware component that is experiencing problems.

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