The Windows event logs can be a mine of useful information about the state of your PC, and understanding what they contain is often key to troubleshooting any problems you might have.
And so it’s a shame that the standard Windows Event Viewer makes accessing this data so awkward: it’s a bulky applet, horribly slow and with an intimidating interface which means even expert users can take a while to find the information they need. There are simpler alternatives around, though, and the Windows Inspection Tool Set includes a particularly appealing example.
Launch the program, click Windows Event Log, and the program will extract the contents of your logs. There’s a lot to examine so this will take a while, although it should still be far quicker than the regular Event Viewer (it was more than 4x faster on our test PC).
The information you get is presented in a single list, too, sorted chronologically, with the most recent at the top. So if you want to know what’s happened on your system in the last hour or two, then it’s available immediately, at a glance, no need to go clicking through the various individual logs. (You can also filter by logs, sources, error codes and more if you like, and there’s support for regular expressions, too.)
And conveniently, the display will continue to be refreshed regularly, so if something happens while you’re working then any new events will pop up at the top of the screen (they’re even highlighted in green for a while, just to be sure you won’t miss them).
The Windows Event Viewer is far more sophisticated, then, with powerful viewing options which allow you to zoom in precisely on whatever you need. But if you just want a quick way to view the most recent events, then the Windows Inspection Tool Set is a whole lot easier to use.
And as a bonus, the program also has an Event Monitor of its own which can track your system resources, process starts and exits, driver loads and unloads, network connections, Windows services, disk space and more. All of which can be logged to file, or displayed in an “always on top” window, which again may be useful for troubleshooting purposes.
The Windows Inspection Tool Set also includes a few other system information modules, which can for example display details on running processes, Windows services, loaded modules, installed drivers and so on. These are rather weak, though – forget Process Explorer, they’re not even up to Task Manager standards – and so if you install the suite, we suspect the Event Monitor and Event Log is where you’ll spend most of your time.