Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 (R2), Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and Vista
Managing a Windows Network is complex task especially when it comes to resolving issues with clients. For many years now Microsoft has included a set of fundamental tools to help Administrators get some control and insight into some of the common issues they may encounter. While satisfactory for some, you might be looking for more advanced solutions. In this review we look at Advanced Event Viewer just for that. Windows already includes an Event Viewer Administrative Tool based on the Microsoft Management Console. Before we get into AEV, let’s talk a little about Microsoft’s Event Viewer.
The Event Viewer in Windows allows you to view information about significant changes in the operating system associated with programs, services such as network, hardware devices and system security that are recorded in what are called Event Logs. An Event log is a record of activities that occur with the operating system environment. A basic and common example of this is when you log on to your computer or when a program is launched.
Advanced Event Viewer adds more meat to basic operations like this in Windows by being the only tool that allows you to retrieve event log information from “all” Windows Servers in a network quick and easy, and it works without Agents making the installation and usage painless and without risk. Imagine all Event Logs of all servers in a single short consolidated list. Events that occur hundreds of times are now consolidated. You can select to view only the Errors and Warnings in addition filtering your view. Advanced Event Viewer gives you full control! The program also provides direct access to online information regarding the Event Log you selected, including the Microsoft Knowledge base and Google search.
Setup & Configuration
Installation as usual when it comes to RH Computing products is quick and easy using a 5 step wizard, setup completed in less than 1 minute. Please note you must have Administrative privileges to install the software. You have two choices for your database engine:
If you decide later to use a different database engine, you can change this preference by clicking File > Preferences > Database Engine. AEV can be downloaded directly from their website ) http://www.advancedeventviewer.com/Download/), a small 6.31 MB installer I was able to easily download it on even a slow GPRS connection. Advanced Event Viewer is supported on all x86 and x64 Windows versions from Windows XP/2003 and up (Windows XP, 2003, Vista, including the latest versions Windows 7, 2008 and 2008 R2)
Advanced Event Viewer 2 includes all features of version 1.x and the following new features:
When you launch Advanced Event Viewer, you are greeted by the welcome dialog, which ask if you would like to add Computers using a couple of methods, by machine name or from the Windows Server Active Directory. The Event Viewer interface to be honest may come across a bit cluttered at first and I easily see early signs of too much repetitiveness. This might turn off a lot power users because of the need to familiarize yourself with it first before jumping in and doing anything. So, close the dialog if you are not ready to do anything yet, you can always add the machines by clicking the Servers drop down menu and click Add computers or toolbar menu.
AEV allows you to view all Event Logs of all systems in your network in a single consolidated list. When I clicked the Add from Active Directory button, I was presented with a browser dialog displaying machines with the domain (both client and server) that I could immediately add. If a particular machine is not showing up, you rescan the network for computers that might have logged on since you launched the directory browser. After adding these two systems, I was prompted if I would like to get the events from them.
You will notice the AEV UI features a bit of a similarity to Microsoft Outlook with Event Log Books task pane menu, which features three prominent buttons, Event Log Books (which is shown by default), Managed Servers and AEV Application Log. The Event Log Books window displays all the information about the logs coming from systems across the network. As you can see in the screen-shot a ‘Warning’ log has been created after I had requested to Get Events. Clicking on the warning displays information about it in the Event Details Pane. If not enough information is displayed about the error message to make a decision, you can quickly check available sources such as the Microsoft Knowledge Base, existing Event ID database or good old Google. RH computing should provide an option to change the default search engine in a future update or next release.
I mentioned how cluttered the AEV interface might seem at first, but I also realized how customizable it is the more I use it. The View menu displays a list of all active toolbars and filters. You can easily close areas of the user interface you don’t want to see at all times such as the Application Event log and Event Detail panes. You can even collapse the pane located on the right when you are not using it. When not in use the If you are encountering a case of too much logs which can become overwhelming depending the size of the network, AEV comes with a host of options that make it very convenient for Administrators to search and filter through logs. For instance, the Application pane, features five list boxes from which you can choose a variety of options whether all errors, warnings, by date, source type (MSDTC, WinMgmt, crypt32), by ID, or system. You can quickly turn of off logs on areas of the system such as Application, Security and System from the Event Log books pane. If you are searching for specific types of events, you can enable the Filter and customize it by adding a filter just for fields you need in addition to wild cards, you can even configure the filters for specific types of logs such as Application, Security, System, DNS, Active Directory or File Replication Service.
The Managed Servers pane, displays a list of all Servers and clients within the Network along with real time information from systems. You can again quickly wade through logs by unchecking computers that are being logged under the Computer Name window. You can also do common task such as Add computer by name, from within AD, use the Server and Credentials link to easily add servers from other domains. The Server Information link comes in quite handy and displays information such as Domain, OS Name, Version, Manufacturer, system time (Virtual or Physical), processor, BIOS, User logged on, allocated memory etc. You can even export the information for further use as a CSV or HTML file. Gosh, I wish I had this back in 2003.
Advanced Event Viewer Application Log
The AEV App log stores information logs for its purpose only, activities such as Scanning the Server and computers within the network. You have the option of keeping this information or you can export to CSV or HTML.
AEV includes sophisticated Reporting capabilities, that makes it easy to gather information using a quick step wizard. Just the Report a Name. Specifies the event books to be included in the report, you can choose from Applications, Security, System, Server Disk Capacity, DNS Server, Directory, and File replication. Next, select the event records type to be include: Warnings, Errors, Critical, that you find of interest. You can select from the list box from how long you want the reports, whether within the last hour, a week ago or even a month back. Next, you can choose from a range of options for how the report must be formatted, such as .PDF, HTML, Text or CSV, then choose the location where it should be stored or emailed to.
Advanced Event Viewers preferences allows you to further customize how the program captures information about system and network activities.
General – You can chose the path where data from logs are stored, along with HTML template location, temp location.
Retrieving Options – Not all logs are necessary, you are not gonna necessarily need information from 3 months ago, especially if you are managing a large network. This can ultimate utilize a lot of storage space. So AEV makes it easy for you to specify just what you need, you can capture events for New Servers added to the network, retrieve events only from the last day, or load the most recent events with a default allocation of 300 events, you can specify your own load all events if you wish. In addition to these options, you can specify different Event types.
Advanced Event Viewer I must certainly say is a must have for any Administrator, if you are managing a network of 25 PC’s to even medium or large deployments. The features are beneficial to getting better insight as to what is happening day in and day out. The vast features of this release makes it even more worthy an upgrade. I do wish some of the repetitive aspects of the UI such as adding Systems, and filters could be consolidated into a collapsible pane. The toolbar menus could be more customizable like Microsoft Office and less wordy too, tool tips about what each feature does would be more welcoming along with the fact that the icons are very explainable already.