When something specific happens on the computer (an event), the information about it is specifically logged into a folder where a huge number of logs are kept. A Windows Log File is this file that is recorded when something happens. For instance, when Google tries to do an autoupdate, but can’t because the installer has been removed between updates, a log is recorded.

The error might read:

The description for Event ID 20 from source Google Update cannot be found. Either the component that raises this event is not installed on your local computer or the installation is corrupted. You can install or repair the component on the local computer.

What this means is that Google tried to update, but it was unable to because, as the message said, the installation is either corrupted, or the component required is not. The reason these Windows Log Files are so important is because they record information that can aid the administrator of the computer in figuring out what is wrong. Another example of a useful Windows Log File is the large number of warnings that may appear simply because something took too long. An example of a warning might be:

Windows (3676) Windows: A request to write to the file “C:ProgramDataMicrosoftSearchDataApplicationsWindowsWindows.edb” at offset 0 (0x0000000000000000) for 8192 (0x00002000) bytes succeeded, but took an abnormally long time (11868 seconds) to be serviced by the OS. In addition, 1 other I/O requests to this file have also taken an abnormally long time to be serviced since the last message regarding this problem was posted 183740 seconds ago. This problem is likely due to faulty hardware. Please contact your hardware vendor for further assistance diagnosing the problem.

What this information provides is everything the administrator would need to diagnose problems. For instance…With the above issue, the administrator could sit down and decipher what was going on at the time of this error. Furthermore, it provides the source of the warning so the administrator can go in and figure out what needs to be done. It may be as simple as a software update or as severe, as the above warning suggests, as a hardware error.

How Do I Read Windows Log Files?

To read the Windows Application, Security, Setup, and System log files, the user will want to open the event finder. To do this, follow this series of steps:

  • Click start
  • Open the control panel
  • Click on the administrative tools icon
  • Open the event finder
  • Click Windows Logs

Once there, the user can go through each section (application, security, setup, and system) and its files to see what sorts of errors there are. If there is an error, the user can open it up and get information fed to them – like the above information – and then determine what actions are necessary.

To read other log files that aren’t specifically the Windows ones, the user should do the following tasks. It is important to understand that most logs are stored in Wordpad or Notepad format. To access this information, a user should:

  • Open Wordpad or Notepad
  • Click the open folder
  • Navigate to the folder where the log files are stored
  • Read what needs to be read

Without these files, a user would be unable to know what sorts of errors were occuring on their computer. This provides the user the chance to diagnose and troubleshoot errors and then take the necessary steps and precautions to correct anything. In military terms, the Windows Log Files are the scouts that tell what the enemy army has. After that, it’s up to the General what needs to be done. Here, the Windows Log Files say what’s wrong. Whether the user fixes it is up to them.