Windows Vista Diagnostics

Windows Vista Diagnostics

Vista’s built-in diagnostics are a quantum leap forward from anything seen in XP.  Windows Diagnostic Infrastructure (WDI) uses logic to analyse the output from Vista’s internal software routines, and thus troubleshoots your problem.  Once you summon Vista’s diagnostics, they can often resolve a fault automatically.  If that strategy fails, then the troubleshooter shows you a list of possible actions, and thus you can solve the problem for yourself.

Each area of Vista has its own diagnostics.  Depending on feedback from the built-in resolver, Vista can call upon event-based diagnosis, on-demand diagnosis, or a counter-based diagnosis.  Here are the four main areas which are patrolled by Vista’s diagnostics.

Topics for Built-in Diagnostics


Network Diagnostics and Troubleshooting

When an XP machine lost its network connection, you merely got an error message.  Now if a Vista machine loses connectivity, the response is much more intelligent and pro-active.  When you can call for the Network Troubleshooter, the first thing it does is to try to restore the connection automatically.  Failing that, the Network Diagnostics presents you with a list of repair options.

Under the covers, Vista consults the Network Diagnostics Framework (NDF).  As you may guess, this new NDF technology extends to wireless diagnostics.

Windows Vista - Diagnostics

Network Diagnostics and Troubleshooting

Vista Disk Diagnostics

Hard disks usually show warning signs before failure, which in the past were merely logged in the system event log.  Windows Vista has built-in diagnostics which listen for these messages.  The troubleshooter not only alerts you, but also suggests data backup and disk replacement techniques. 

One reason for using up-to-date kit is that new hard disks include SMART technology (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology   Naturally, Vista detects listens in and acts upon these SMART messages.  It is claimed that Vista can even detect applications experiencing bad block problems, and silently restore the corrupted data from backup, presumably using the Volume Shadow Copy service.

Vista Memory Diagnostics

The Vista Memory Diagnostics monitors the memory hardware.  If the built-in Vista diagnostics finds an error it will alert you and ask you to run more exhaustive analysis with the Windows Memory Diagnostic tests.  If Vista can contact MOCA (Microsoft’s Online Crash Analysis) then it can check if an error is due to failing memory, the software can prompt the user to perform memory diagnostics, which will run detailed tests on your RAM modules. Incredibly, MOCA and Vista can do all this diagnosis without requiring an additional download or separate boot disk.

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Resource Exhaustion Prevention

Resource Exhaustion Prevention monitors disk, memory, processor time and network bandwidth.  When any of these four crucial resources approaches its limit, Windows Vista warns users that their applications may experience problems.  The Resource Exhaustion Prevention monitor then presents the user with a list of the top consumers, and thus helps you to identify the source of the problem.

Event Logs


Being good at troubleshooting is easy – all that you have to do is read the logs!  Seriously, all that separates the professionals from the amateurs is the ability to read the logs.  To put my case another way, Vista’s built-in diagnostics and troubleshooters reward those who look in the logs for clues to the root of their problem.  Here is one last way of looking at the Event Logs and troubleshooting, if there is no log corresponding to your problem, then you are in trouble!  However, if there is an entry, however obscure, then someone out there has seen your situation before, and almost certainly there is a solution waiting for you.

Don’t be put off by previous bad experiences of Event Logs, Vistas are clearest and most comprehensive to date.  Click on the Start button, type Event Viewer in the Start Search dialog box.  Begin by scanning ‘Overview and Summary’, seek out Critical Events in the last 24hrs.

Summary of Vista’s Built-in Diagnostics

In Vista’s diagnostics and troubleshooters we have another system that has been re-designed from scratch.  The result is a significant improvement in our ability to resolve a computer problem – if only we take the trouble to use these new built-in diagnostics.  We must remember that each important system, Network, Disk, Memory and Processor has its own specialist troubleshooter, just waiting for us to say ‘Diagnose and Repair’.


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Configuring Windows Vista Topics:


     Vista Tools and Extras

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