If you own a PC running any version of Microsoft Windows, you have experienced a Crash, because it's no secret that Windows is known for 2 things.
1. The ability to run almost any software or game.
2. Frequent Operating System crashes.
I started out tinkering with PC's back in the early 90's. I watched this movie called War Games, and the next thing you know I was hooked on anything to do with a PC. All that fascination led me to beg my parents to buy me a computer, and ever since then I've been hooked on PC's.
How To Troubleshoot A Microsoft Windows Crash
In 2000 I got certified as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and to get certified I had to learn the ins and outs of their operating system. One of the great things about any version of Windows is that you can use a utility called Event Viewer to examine all the foreground and background errors that your computer is experiencing and logging. To most people who are not computer savvy, they think the Event Viewer is a secret Microsoft utility that only computer geeks know how to use, but I'll show you how you can use it here because you will need it to begin your repair process.
How Do I Begin The Microsoft Windows Repair Process
The good news is that you can research the cause and repair process on the internet for almost any error out there, The event viewer will allow you to find the exact error causing the problem, then all you have to do is use the error id or error description inside your Google searches to find those exact repair guides. By mastering this technique, you will be able to trouble-shoot any hardware or software error on your own. I do admit though, that in the beginning you may find it strange and maybe even hard, but trust me on this one, keep working at it, maybe re-read this article, and before you know it, you will be able to fix anyone's computer!
Back in my day, you actually had to know how to fix the error without using Google LOL. Those were the Good Old Days, for Computer Geeks like me :)
To fire up your Event Viewer, follow the instructions under your exact operating system, or watch my YouTube video below, to see how I did it:
This procedure will work for Microsoft Windows XP, 2000, Vista, 7, or 8
1. Start Button
2. Control Panel
3. System and Maintenance or (Select Performance and Maintenance in Windows XP instead)
4. Administrative Tools (Then click on Computer Management in Windows XP)
5. Event Viewer
Alternative Method to launching Event Viewer
The quickest way is to click the start button then type "Event Viewer" in the search box.
Here's How I Launch It
2. Right click My Computer
3. Select Manage
4. Select Event Viewer
Okay so you got the Event Viewer up, now what?
Now you will have a list of different logs to look at to begin the troubleshooting process. I use the detailed information in the logs to look for error codes, dates and times, filenames, and other information that I can use to do a Google Search for the solution.
Let me explain the log types and why you should become Sherlock Holmes
Application Log - The Application Log contains information stored by your installed applications. For example if your GTAIV game crashed or your Microsoft Outlook crashed, the Application Log would be the first place you should look to investigate what could have caused the problem. In this log you will also find database programs recording file errors, if they cannot access a certain file because of file corruption or file deletion problems. I found my problem in the Application Log, read below to see how I fixed my DLL HELL Issue.
System Log - The System Log contains events related to system components. A common system component that causes a lot of Windows Crashes is driver problems. If a driver fails to load or loads improperly causing your system to crash, this event will be logged in the System Log for you to discover and investigate.
Security Log - The Security Log contains well, security information! Here is where you will find good and bad logon attempts, as well as information on what user ID is accessing a certain resource (file) and so forth. Some security events have to be enabled first, such as logon auditing. My Windows 7 Professional system has this enabled by default, but other operating systems might need to have certain security events enabled before they start logging.
If you want to see when files are created, opened, or deleted and it's currently not showing up in your Security Log, do a Google search with your version of the operating system and the following to find an article showing you how to turn the logging feature on.
Example: "Windows XP Professional Security Log Enable File Access Events"
GEEK TIP: The Security Log can log events related to File Creation, Deletion, and Opening.
I ran Windows XP Pro for a while, and I remember that my security log was always blank, because I never manually enabled the logging features.
How I Fixed My Windows 7 Professional Explorer.exe Crashes
In the How-to Tutorial Video below you will see me walk through the entire troubleshooting process that led me to the solution to fix my computer. Here's what I discovered and did.
1. I fired up Event Viewer and began looking for events that took place around the same time as the system crashes and I recommend you do the same. If your computer crashed at 4:54pm during your Crysis 3 game, you shouldn't bother looking for events that took place at 9:00am that same day as your first course of action. Try looking through the 3 main logs, and finding events that happened at or near the time the actual crash occurred. This tip will save you a ton of time and probably stress.
2. In the application log I noticed several events that contained the "Explorer.exe" process which is the exact process that kept crashing on me. In that error message I also found another file name called MSVCRT.DLL.
3. I fired up Google Search and decided to find out more about "MSVCRT.DLL" because it was named a faulty module that crashed my explorer process according to my Application Log in Event Viewer. Through the research I discovered that this file was part of the Microsoft Visual C Run-Time Library (along with MSVCPP.DLL). Eureka!
4. I believe that my MSVCRT.dll file entered my computer into what's referred to as DLL HELL. DLL Hell is when applications do not launch or work correctly, so yeah, my computer was in DLL Hell! To combat this problem I decided to replace the dll file by uninstalling the programs that put it there in the first place. I launched my Control Panel, then selected Programs, and finally clicked on Uninstall Program.
5. I then searched for "Microsoft Visual C++" in the Installed Programs list and removed all 12 applications from my computer. I then shutdown my computer, at which point my Windows 7 computer did a Windows Update and replaced the Microsoft Visual C++ file that it thinks I needed at that time. This is all I had to do to Prevent Windows From Crashing my PC.
How I Decreased My Boot Time By 35 Seconds!
Before I rebuilt my computer and by rebuilt I'm referring to a fresh installation of Windows 7 and my applications, I was experiencing an extreme slow down in boot time. I'm running an SSD hard drive, so I was used to boot times of less than 30 seconds at most from a cold boot, then all of the sudden, my computer was taking almost a full minute to boot. I'm sure some of you are thinking I'm crazy for complaining about a boot time that's still fairly fast, but my point is that for my current hardware, there's no reason why my computer shouldn't boot in less than 30 seconds.
I fired up my Event Viewer and began looking through the logs for suspect entries. What I discovered were plenty of application and system errors that had to be researched on Google for repair solutions. I knew how to fix some of them right of the bat, but most were new problems that I never heard of; so Google Search was a huge help to me. In the end I fixed at least 10 errors that were causing a slow down. Some were driver errors and the others were application errors from programs that were supposed to be removed, but the programs uninstaller process did a poor job of removing it from the registry.
Long Story Short: I troubleshooted the application and system errors using the procedure I described on this page and I got my boot time back to 25 seconds! So if your computer used to boot up quickly and now it's slow, try working on your Event Viewer Errors and I'm sure you'll be able to improve your computer speed by fixing all the hang-ups.
BTW: Make sure you backup your data before you make any system changes!
Here's My How-to Tutorial Video for Fixing Windows Errors