Windows 8.1 System Management - The First Essentials: Error Diagnosis

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Windows 8.1 is brand new to me.  And I've just gone through a "crash" course  in error diagnosis, correction,  and systems management.  My knowledge of Windows XP goes pretty deep, learned through the trial-by-fire of keeping my WinXP system running under a daunting load of functional software and continuous testing of new software.  (I know it's time to leave WinXP, now that Microsoft has ended support.  But the migration problem is a topic for another day.)

My new found (and early-stage, but developing) knowledge of Win81 is derived on a laptop (Lenovo ThinkPad), now running Windows 8.1, which was upgraded from the original Windows 8 system installed  at purchase.  The machine was slow from the start, and after the upgrade to Windows 8.1 the system has continued to degrade, running more slowly and numerous software application errors (i.e. failing to start or crashing after start).  The Metro Apps are generally non-functional.

Navigating Win81 was, at first, a challenge - completely new and different from WinXP.  Navigating between the new Win81 "Start" screen and the old and familiar "Desktop" took some learning.  I found one trick that was very useful for navigating system information.  Once located, Win81 provides a wealth of error reporting and analysis functionality - greatly expanded from WinXP.

Navigating System Information: Left click on "Start Icon" (lower left corner)

  • Left click on the bottom left corner of the desktop screen) gives a list of many useful places to go, particularly for system management and debugging.  I'm still looking for a simple list of Programs like the old Windows start button for starting programs - but the menu here is excellent for finding utilities and configuration items. [Update: see post on "Classic Shell" software - which allows for easy modification of Win81 user interface, particularly the Start Menu.]

Finding Error Reports and Action Items

In WinXP, my first stop for diagnosing performance problems was the Event Viewer (found in Start|Administrative Tools|EventViewer).   Win81 provides an expanded and flexible Event Viewer and also includes an "Action Center" that provides useful presentation of Error Events in summary form, sorted by date.   In Win81:

  • Event Viewer:  from the Win81 Desktop - StartIcon(left click)|Event Viewer

    • See also: StartIcon(left click)|Computer Management - The Computer Management module includes the "Event Viewer" and other useful system management tools.

  • The Win81 Event Viewer has a wealth of new views and options for exploring system operations, offering a big improvement over WinXP.  Take a look:


  • , but the wealth of information available (if you dig in) can be overwhelming.  The summary reports are useful, though.  And you can design your own summary reports, which is great.  In any case, it's still worth exploring the old fashioned "Application" logs and "System" logs.

Action Center can be opened from the system tray icon (little white flag - not used to indicate surrender, not yet anyway).

  • In the action center, click on "Maintenance," then under Check for solution to problem reports, click on "View reliability history" - far right.
  • This is a great summary of significant errors, organized by date.

I found lots of errors, and Microsoft documentation related to the information contained in the error reports is still somewhat vague and difficult to navigate.  Google searches, however, provide excellent lead for finding solutions to fix the problems found.  I'm still working on that.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014