Windows Diagnostic
Programs

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Why use Dr Watson and the Event Viewer?

Dr Watson is a diagnostic program that will create a special log file when a software error occurs...

When your computer encounters a problem or has a software error that the OS can not control, it terminates the program, then two things happen:

An Event is written to the Event Log, the log is split up in to:

  • Application
  • Security
  • System

And some others depending on the type of OS installation, such as Internet Explorer, etc.

To see examples and expiation of the Event Viewer see this page.

Then if the problem was caused by a Windows application or third party software ( your commercial applications) the diagnostic program will also run and create an error log.

You can configure the program to write different types of error logs:

  • Crash dump
  • Full
  • Mini
  • NT compatible Full

Options:

  • Dump Symbol Table
  • Dump All Thread Contents
  • Append to Existing Log File
  • Visual Notification
  • Sound Notification
  • Create Crash Dump File

If you have an application that crashes frequently the publisher's tech support may ask you to use the diagnostic program to create the crash dump file.  The tech support may also ask for both the application and the Operating System dump files, if that is the case you will have to induce the Operating System to create the binary file by using the Properties Page for the System.

In the Application Errors you can add the name of the application executable and the program will monitor that application any time it is used. Very handy.

The log is here: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Dr Watson
The crash dump is here: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Dr Watson\user.dmp

I have used this program a few times for my own diagnostics on applications with mixed results. I also have sent the log files to application publishers to find the root cause of the application error or errors, this was also with mixed results. Some times you or your customer will have to find another program that has the same capabilities because of conflicts with one or more applications.

The difference between the diagnostic program log and a Dump file by the OS is the program log is in text form where as the System dump file is a binary file that needs a special application to read and decipher the information.

Update 01/12/20 - After doing a search through Windows 7 and 10 Dr. Watson isn't available in these versions. You would have to use the "Diagnostics" programs that come installed with the Operating System. I have tried to use them with little success, and after looking at the logs of the results the information the program collects is very intrusive, I mean why does a diagnostic program need my email and (I have since removed this!) my physical address to send to microsoft? If you use it be aware it will send personal information to microsoft...



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So if you are doing your own tech support and using this program for trying to figure out why a program is crashing use the options create a text log file to trace down the problems.





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