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Smartphones & gadgets

Secret Windows tool only the tech pros know about

Dealing with computer problems can be frustrating. Whether your gadget is not working at all or it’s just running super slow can really be a setback. Especially if you are working on a deadline.

Troubleshooting issues might be difficult for the not-so-tech-savvy person. If you fall into this category, don’t feel bad. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Sometimes when PC issues occur we need to contact a professional for help. Before doing so, it’s best to know exactly what the problem is so you can easily describe it to the tech.

That’s why you need to know about Windows Reliability Monitor. It’s designed to fine-tune and even help fix your computer.

What is Windows Reliability Monitor

Reliability Monitor is a tool already built-in to Windows as a part of the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). It’s been a part of the operating system since Vista was introduced in 2007 but is somewhat hidden, so it’s easy for users not to know about it.

The tool receives data about your system from the Windows Event Manager. It focuses on things that impact the performance and reliability of your gadget.

These five data categories are tracked:

  1. Windows errors or failures – Example: Windows hardware error.
  2. Application errors or failures – Example: Outlook not responding.
  3. Miscellaneous errors or failures – Example: More than likely this deals with peripherals like a Disk failure.
  4. Warnings – These typically deal with problems that don’t necessarily affect system behavior, for example, an unsuccessful driver installation.
  5. Information – This will track changes that are made to your system, such as a successful Windows update.

How Reliability Monitor works

Opening Reliability Monitor

Accessing Windows Reliability Monitor is very simple. It’s located under Control Panel >> System and Security >> Security and Maintenance >> Reliability Monitor. But you don’t actually need to go through all of those steps to open it.

Just type “reli” into the search bar next to the Windows icon located on the lower left of your computer. Click on the “View Reliability History” option that shows up in the results box. The Reliability Monitor will open as soon as you do that. It looks like this:


Troubleshooting with Reliability Monitor

In the example shown above, you see a red X, meaning there were critical events. In this case, Microsoft Edge stopped working.

Results are compiled over a period of time and are charted with a stability index. A value of 10 is the best number on the stability index and 1 is the lowest. This number decreases when there are errors or failures and rises when there are no problems to report.

The Reliability Monitor only provides details on three of the five categories that we discussed here previously.

  • Critical events – Application, Miscellaneous and Windows failures are marked with an X on a red circle. They are listed in chronological order.
  • Warnings – Warning messages are listed together with yellow exclamation flags in chronological order.
  • Information events – These are marked with a lowercase i on a blue circle, also in chronological order.

You can click on a specific date to see problems that occurred then. When you’re troubleshooting a specific problem you’ll want to look for a cluster of issues, recurring issues, or issues that occurred at the specific time you noticed a problem.

Many of the failures that you will see fall into the self-healing kind. The same problem could pop up on occasion, even on gadgets that are working well, and disappear on its own. Likely rebooting the system takes care of the issue.

If there are issues that do not have checkable solutions, you will see a “View Technical Details” link next to the listed problem summary. Let’s look at the Problem Details on the Microsoft Edge critical event we showed you in the image above:


Image: Problem Details for Microsoft Edge critical error

There are a couple of critical details listed that can help you troubleshoot the error:

  • Faulting application name – This shows you which application or service failed.
  • Exception code – This is the event identifier.

Do a search of these details on Google or with Microsoft Support and you should find an explanation of the issue you’re having. Sometimes it will have a solution attached. If you can’t find the solution yourself, you can give the details to a tech and they should be able to find one.

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