One of my pet peeves is Microsoft treats ALL it's customers as
blithering idiots and in effect tries to protect users from themselves
by hiding built-in features that can be useful in troubleshooting. I
I've mentioned Task Manager and Resource Monitor many times in various
threads from which you can learn a lot of what Vista is doing behind
the scenes. Did you know you can go a lot further?
Click on Start and type in 'relia' for Reliability Monitor.
How about that! A new tool that was there all along if only you knew
how to turn it on. OK, why would you want to use this tool?
To track what goes wrong and perhaps get a better understand why.
If you typed in 'relia' a new window should pop up, expand Monitoring
tools in the left pane and go full screen so you can see details more
clearly. Click on Reliability Monitor and you'll see something you
haven't before... a plotted line chart of your system's reliability.
At the extreme top right you can select a day to get a closer look
starting at that date.
Now when you have some time, just play around looking for low plotted
points on the chart. To see them all you need to move backwards in
time by changing the calendar to earlier dates.
Example: for me 5/26/07 was a "bad" day. I know that not from trusting
my memory or reading notes, but by clicking on the tick on the chart
that Vista was keeping for me. When I did a whole bunch of data popped
up under applications failures.
Other things show up on the chart too. There are five categories:
Software installs which include driver changes and Windows updates,
applications failures, the more important hardware failures, Windows
failures and everything else lumped under Miscellaneous failures.
Why should you care? Because this can help you troubleshoot problems
when your system is sluggish or not running right or is always
crashing. Similar to the "ranking" you get for your installed hardware
this chart shows an index number for how reliable your install of
Vista is behaving. Higher ticks on the chart show a higher index value
at that point in time reflecting a more stable system, lower values
point to problems, so it is easy to go all the way back to when you
installed Vista or when some problem started happening by just
changing the date on the calendar at the top of this window then walk
through the chart looking for "problems" by checking for low points on
the chart and the familiar keys of red "x's", yellow ! or information
markers like is used in Device Manager.
Tip: To get a quick idea how stable your system has been according to
Vista, begin by selecting "show all" then look at the details under
each of the five categories I mentioned above.
Another place to look for help is in Control Panel. Click on Problem
Reports and you can get a detailed problem report history by
By combining what Reliability Monitor logs, what is logged in Events
and is detailed in problem reports you are further along in finding
out what is causing Vista problems.