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How To Find And Read Windows Error Log Files

When something goes wrong in Windows, whether it’s with a major or minor update or a RSOD or a BSOD, a log entry is created. The log files will tell you what error code was generated. If you’re trying to troubleshoot a recurring problem on your PC, those log files are crucial once you’ve tried restarting your system and it hasn’t fixed the problem. Here’s how you can find and read Windows error log files.

Windows Error Log Files

There are several different types of errors in Windows and as such, the log files for each are sorted that way.

If you’re trying to install Windows 10, and it fails you’re going to have to access the file via the command prompt during installing. It’s in the following location in your Windows drive.

$windows.~bt\Sources\Panther

If you rolled back to an older version of Windows e.g., an older build of Windows 10 or back to Windows 7, the log file will be in the following location in your Windows drive.

$windows.~bt\Sources\Rollback

If you tried to install a plug and play device, such as a speaker or a wired headset, and it failed, the error log will be found here. You can enter this path in the Run dialog or in File Explorer.

%WINDIR%\Inf\Setupapi*.log

Memory dumps for bug checks reside here. You can enter this path in the Run dialog or in the location bar in File Explorer.

%WINDIR%\Memory.dmp

Error logs from the Sysprep command reside here;

%WINDIR%\System32\Sysprep\Panther

Reading Error Log Files

Error files are saved with the .log or .dmp file extension.

.dmp files¬†are memory dump files and can most easily be read and understood with a free Nirosoft tool called¬†BlueScreenView. It can give you a fairly good analysis of the dump file. If that doesn’t do the trick for you, consider using WinDbg.

.log files can be opened with Notepad. It’s a mess if you try to read it in Notepad so just copy everything and paste it into Excel. If you don’t want to use Excel, turn off word wrap. Each error is accompanied by a date i.e., when the error occurred and an error code with a description. Your best bet to resolve it is to Google the error code.

As far as resolving errors goes, no log or dump file is going to give you step by step instructions on how to resolve it. If you keep getting the same error over and over, you’re going to have Google and Google until you figure it out.

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