How to find out why your PC crashed

Sometimes your computer locks up for no apparent reason.

Maybe you were harmlessly scrolling through a Word document or perhaps you opened your Email when the application suddenly locked up.  Often the only choice you have is to press Ctrl Alt + Del to end task or, in more severe cases, you have to reboot the computer.

But what if you want to know why your computer crashed in the first place?  If you could identify the root cause of the problem you might be able to prevent it from happening in the future; that’s what the Reliability Monitor is for.

The Reliability Monitor is little known tool for seeing the problem history of your PC.  It displays graphs of your system stability on a particular date, whether any updates were installed and what processes are responsible for any errors.

Press Windows Key + r to open a run box then enter this command:

perfmon /rel

Windows 7 Reliability Monitor

Microsoft automatically gives your system a stability index for a given day from 1 to 10.  The jagged blue line shows your system stability as Windows sees it.  On the left x-axis you have the scale marked at the 1, 5, and 10 marks.  Under that you’ll see an icon indicating Application, Windows and Miscellaneous failures.  You’ll also see warnings and general informational alerts about system changes like installed updates.

If you click a date slot in the graph all the events for that day show up in the bottom pane.

In the above example you can see iexplore.exe (Which is Windows Explorer) locked up today at 12:01pm.

If you click the Check for solutions to all problems … at the very bottom of the window to the left of the OK button Windows will automatically attempt to repair the problem.  In my experience this tool is pretty useless because Windows never fixed my issues this way.

Windows 7 Reliability Monitor Check for Solutions

Windows 7 Reliability Monitor Check for Solutions Useless

Back in the Reliability Monitor, If you click View technical details link in the bottom pane, you’ll see the full description of the issue.

Here you can see the program version, the process and application path of the crashing Application.

Admittedly, in isolation these things aren’t very helpful but you can cross check the timestamps with earlier events in the Reliability Monitor to find correlations.


The Bottom Line

The Reliability Monitor isn’t a panacea and will not fix your problems; however, it will make it easier when you start doing detective work for root causes because it chronicles all events and gives you a visual means of analyzing your data.

Add it to your arsenal of troubleshooting tools.


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Posted in Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with: