Computer Management Console ST


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System Tools, a very useful section of the Computer Management Console.

The Event Viewer in the System Tools console is a list of four logs Application, Internet Explorer, Security, and System. Now some of the information in the logs is quite cryptic, you may have to go to Microsoft or the application publisher to find out what an error code means.

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System Tools console

The Application log is where you would find information, warnings, and errors generated by your applications. Have an application that is having problems, look here for the cause. When you have an application problem the publisher's tech support may ask for you to save this log and email it to them. They will then have a better idea of why an application is having problems. This log is set to over write itself every seven days and with a default size of 512 kb (kilobytes) this is fairly small and if you are experiencing problems with an application you may want to increase the size

The Internet Explorer log is for IE  information, warnings, and errors generated by Internet Explorer. On the systems I have seen there is rarely any information in this log.

The Security log is for security and audit related information, warnings, and errors. When your computer is setup this log will stay mostly empty until the computer joins a domain at that time the domain controller will set the parameters for Audit of logon/logoff and other services.

The System log is for system and hardware information, warnings, and errors generated by the operating system, hardware drivers, or even the hardware. This log has the most information, it logs a lot of information that your computer generates when it is active, from services to hardware. These logs are very informative when you are having a problem with a service, device, or application. All information, warnings, and errors are logged here if the service or driver installation program requests it be logged. Note: not all installation programs ask for logging to the system event log.

The next item in the System Tools index is the Shared Folders, here are all the shares for your computer. You can use this tool to share a folder [not a file!] or to stop the sharing of a folder. You can also set permissions for a folder from this tool. Very handy.

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System Tools - Shared Folders

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Next in the index in the System Tools console is the Local Users and Groups, here you can create or delete local users, ad and remove users from the local groups. This tool allows you to create additional users, assign them to groups, set passwords, and assign permissions to other resources on your computer. You [with the appropriate permissions] can also delete user id's, be very careful of what you change here, it can be catastrophic! One thing I will mention: the user id Guest, it is also a member of the Local Group Guests, as a security precaution I always remove Guest from the Guest group, change the password and disable the account if it has not been disabled already.

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Users - Select and disable Guest account

One of the most useless items in the System Tools  is the Performance Logs and Alerts. I say useless because you are not supplied the tools nor the training required to use the Performance logs or how to setup the Alerts. Even experienced MCSE's have trouble using and interpreting these logs. Because this program is part of the Operating System you can not delete it from the console. You can how ever disable the service, not a good idea, disabling the service will cause a lot of errors in the system log.

Last of the System Tools is the Device Manager, this is a very useful tool, you can gain a lot of information from the listing that is other wise hard to find. You can see at a glance a device that is not working and get a rudimentary description of the problem, like most Microsoft errors you have to decode the error to find out what the underlying problem really is. This is the second place I look when I am trouble shooting a problem, the first is the Event Viewer.

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Device Management - Scan for new hardware

This tool will save you a lot of time, it will also make you stand back, look at the computer in a quizzical way and scratch your head. When you right click on a device in the right hand window you get a menu, go to properties of the device and it will tell you why it is not working, well in a way.

The codes are semi-self explanatory. If you have a code of say 10, device failed to start. Ok you already know the device failed to start but what does code 10 mean? It means it does not have power [from Microsoft's web site] but that does not tell you why it does not have power. You can from this tool: uninstall the device, up or down grade the driver, or disable the device. You can also look at such things as the interrupt [which is meaningless in the PCI world today] you can see the memory range the device uses, this is useful if you have documentation that tells you where the device should reside in memory.

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Device Propeties - Resources showing memory range

Also you can use the System Tools for some power management tasks, lets say you installed a network card and after a certain amount of time it powers off, but you can not find the power settings from the control panel/power settings or from the network properties of the network card [netgear cards come to mind with this issue] the power setting is in the in the properties from the device manager.

And one last thing, as with most [using this term loosely] Microsoft products putting the mouse pointer in some white space, and pressing F1 will bring up "Help".

Where do you look for information on a system error? In the Event Viewer!

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