Two Minute Drill: System Diagnostics Report

Two Minute Drill: System Diagnostics Report

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Something many of our readers have asked for is a quick overview of new and useful tools and features in Windows.  Today we are launching a new series, called our “Two Minute Drill” – these will be brief posts that provide a high-level view of tools and features.  We have already published several posts in this vein over the last year or so, but we are going to go back and add the “Two Minute Drill” tag to these posts to make them easier to find.  Hopefully you enjoy these posts, and keep providing feedback on other topics that you would like to see.  Enough with the Administrative, on with the Substantive …

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 introduced several new features to assist users and administrators in diagnosing performance-related issues.  Today, we are going to take a look at the System Diagnostics Report which provides a snapshot view of your system.  The report itself gathers data for 60 seconds, and then may take an additional 60-90 seconds to generate the report.  To generate a System Diagnostics Report, run the perfmon /report command from the Run line or from a command prompt.  Generating a System Diagnostics Report requires privilege elevation, so you will need to consent to the elevation prompt or provide credentials depending on how UAC is configured on your systems.  Below is the initial System Diagnostics window – the Report Status area shows the progress in generating the report:

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Once the report has been generated, you will see a Report similar to the one below:

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As you can see, the report is organized into different areas.  The first area to check is the Warnings section under the Diagnostic Results heading.  In this area of the report, different warning and informational events will be displayed.  In this particular instance, I have UAC turned off on my system, and the Security Center has generated an informational event.  You may also see information generated by the Windows System Assessment Tool on Windows Vista systems as shown below:

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Device and Service failures are also displayed – for example, if a device is not working properly, or if a service has failed.  Additionally, if there are issues with the Event Logs themselves, you would see Warning messages, such as the one below:

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As you can see there are hyperlinks that you can use to get additional information about resolving issues.  You can also expand each of the sections under the Basic System Checks section to get more details.

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One of the most useful sections on this report is the Performance section.  This area provides process-level detail about the top consumers of resources for CPU, Disk, Network and Memory.  If there are any performance related issues, the status indicator would change, and you would need to expand out the relevant section in the  report for the component that reported a problem.

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System Diagnostics Reports can be saved out in HTML format so that you can maintain an archive, post them to an intranet library, such as a Sharepoint portal, or email them to colleagues if needed.  If users have the rights to run these reports, they can provide them to their Help Desk, or IT Administrators for analysis and assistance.

Finally, you can view and create System Diagnostic Reports within the main Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor utility:

  • Launch Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor (remember, that you will need elevated privileges)
  • In the navigation tree, expand Data Collector Sets and expand System
  • Right-click the System Diagnostics item and click Start.  This will begin the Data Collection Process.  Once the report has been generated, the System Diagnostics Report will appear in the main pane of the console.

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You can also view historical reports from within Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor.  In the navigation tree, expand Reports, expand System, and then expand System Diagnostics.  Select the date for the report you wish to view.

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That brings us to the end of this quick look at System Diagnostics Reports.  Now you have one more utility at your disposal to get system information for troubleshooting and reporting!

- Blake Morrison

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  • Thanks!!

    A good information for me :)...

  • There doesn't seem to be an "expand all" command, to display all the report segments for easy printing. Having to click through and open dozens of report segments individually (while accidentally closing some of them in the process) is a waste of time. Other than that, this seems like a good feature.

  • I love this! Especially the feature with the icon in the middle of each header giving a quick scroll down the entire document map.

    Awesome!

  • There doesn't seem to be an "expand all" command, to display all the report segments for easy printing. Having to click through and open dozens of report segments individually (while accidentally closing some of them in the process) is a waste of time. Other than that, this seems like a good feature.

  • how can we schedule the inbuilt diagnostics? The schedule tab is greyed out.