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What is Windows Event Log? – An Introduction Guide

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Windows Event Log is a built-in feature of the Microsoft Windows operating system that records and stores various system, security, and application events that occur on a computer.

These events can include errors, warnings, and information messages. Using this event log,  administrators can troubleshoot problems, monitor system health, and track user activity.

The Windows Event Log is organized into three main categories:

System, Application, and Security.

The Application log contains events related to applications and services, whereas the System log includes events associated with system components and drivers. Logon sessions, unsuccessful login attempts,  and other security-related incidents are documented in the Security log.

This windows event log entries include detailed information such as the date and time the event occurred, the source of the event,  and any relevant error codes.

Windows Event Log Importance

The role of event log monitoring is crucial for system and network engineers because it enables them to stay informed about any problems, illegal activity, network breakdowns, and other key issues that might be arising inside a computer.

It provides complete details about each event, including its origin, username, sensitivity level, and other information. This information can be very helpful in identifying and resolving structural failures, as well as in forecasting upcoming challenges based on data patterns.

Network administrators can effectively discover and handle issues before they become serious by keeping an eye on event logs. This might possibly save a lot of time and effort when investigating and fixing the issue. This can help to guarantee that systems continue to be safe, dependable, and performing at their best.

How to Access Windows Event Log?

#1. Using GUI

Step 1 – Open the Start menu and search for “Event Viewer”.

Step 2 – Click on the Event Viewer application to open it.

Step 3 – In the leftmost panel, you will see a list of event logs. Choose the Windows Logs option and then click the desired log to view.


Step 4 – In the middle panel,  you can see a list of events for the selected log. You can use the filter options at the right-hand side of the screen to narrow down the events you are interested in.


Step 5 – To view the details of an event, double-click on it. This will open the Event Properties dialog box, which contains detailed information about the event ID, source, severity level, date and time, user name, computer name,  and description.


Step 6 – You can use the menu options and toolbar at the top of the screen to perform various actions such as saving and clearing logs, creating custom views,  and filtering events.

#2. Using Command Prompt

You can access the Windows Event Log using the Command Prompt or PowerShell by using the “wevtutil” command. Here are some examples.

  • To display all events in the System log
wevtutil qe System
  • To display the events in the Application log
wevtutil qe Application

The output may look like this.

  • To display all events in the Security log
wevtutil qe Security
  • To display events from a specific source in the System log.
wevtutil qe System /f:text /c:1 /rd:true /q:"*[System[Provider[@Name='source_name']]]" 

Here you need to replace “source_name” with the name of the event source you want to view.

  • To export events from a log to a file
wevtutil epl System C:\Logs\SystemLog.evtx

Replace “System” with the name of the log you want to export, and “C:\Logs\SystemLog.evtx” with the path and filename where you want to save the exported log.

#3. Using Run

You can also access the Windows Event Log using the Run dialog box in Windows. Here’s how:

Step 1 – Press the “Windows key + R” on your keyboard to open the Run dialog box.

Step 2 – Type “eventvwr.msc” in the Run dialog box and press Enter.


Step 3 – The Event Viewer utility will open and display the main console window.


Step 4 – In the left-hand side console window, you can expand the “Windows Logs” folder to see the System, Application, Security, Setup,  and other logs.


Step 5 – Click on the log you want to view its contents in the right panel. You can filter and sort the events as well as create custom views & save them for future use.

When to use these Event Logs?

Generally, You can use the Windows Event Log whenever you need to monitor, troubleshoot,  or audit events on a Windows system. Here are some specific situations where you might use it.

Monitoring system health

The Windows Event Log can provide valuable information about system errors, warnings,  and performance issues which allows you to proactively monitor and maintain the health of your system.

Troubleshooting problems

When you encounter a problem on a Windows system, the Event Log can provide an indication of the cause and help you diagnose the issue. By analyzing event logs, you can easily identify the root cause of a problem and take steps to resolve it.

Auditing and tracking user activity

The Security log in the Event Log can be used to track user logins, logoff, failed logon attempts,  and other security-related events, which can help you identify potential security threats and take appropriate action.

Compliance reporting

Many regulatory frameworks such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS,  and GDPR require organizations to maintain event logs and provide regular reports. The Windows Event Log can be used to meet these compliance requirements.

How to Read these Event Logs?

It can be a little difficult to read the Windows Event Log at first, but with enough practice and familiarity, it gets simpler to understand the data it provides. Here are some general steps to follow when reading the Windows Event Log.

#1. Open the Event log

The first step is to open the event log. You can access it by using any of the above-mentioned methods.

#2. Navigate to the appropriate log

There are several logs in the Event Viewer, including the Application, System, Security,  and Setup logs. Each log contains different types of events. Select the log that contains the events you want to view.

#3. Filter event

You can filter events by severity level, event source, date range, and other criteria. This can help you narrow down the events you are interested in.

#4. View event details

Examine each event carefully to view its details, including the event ID, source, severity level, date & time, user name, computer name, and description. This information can help you identify the cause of the event and take appropriate action.

#5. Use event properties

Many events have additional properties that provide more information about the event.

For example, a security event might have properties such as logon type, logon process,  and authentication package. These properties can help you understand the context of the event and its significance.

#5. Analyze patterns

Always try to look for patterns in the events to identify recurring issues or trends. For example, if you see a series of disk errors, it could indicate a problem with the disk hardware or configuration.

Windows Event Severity Levels

The Windows Event Log uses severity levels to categorize events based on their importance or impact on the system. There are five severity levels in the Windows Event Log, listed below from highest to lowest severity:

  • Critical: This severity level is reserved for events that indicate a critical system or application failure that requires immediate attention. Examples include system crashes, major hardware failures,  and critical application errors.
  • Error: It is used for events that indicate a serious problem that requires attention but not necessarily immediate action. Some common examples are application crashes, network connectivity failures,  and disk errors.
  • Warning: It indicates a potential issue that system administrators should keep an eye on, including low disk space warnings and security policy violations.
  • Verbose: It is used for events that provide detailed information about system or application activity,  typically for troubleshooting or debugging purposes.
  • Information: It shows that everything went smoothly. Almost all logs include information events.

These severity levels allow administrators & system analysts to quickly identify critical issues that require attention and prioritize their response accordingly.

Conclusion ✍️

I hope you found this article helpful in learning about the windows event log and its importance. You may also be interested in learning about the various ways to recover deleted data in Windows 11.

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