Windows Vista includes an extensive diagnostics
and problem resolution architecture. These automated features are the
next generation Automated Help System. Although earlier releases of
Windows include some help and diagnostics features, those features are,
for the most part, not self-correcting or self-diagnosing. Windows
Vista, on the other hand, can detect many types of hardware, memory,
and performance issues and either resolve them automatically or help
users through the process of resolving them.
Windows Vista includes more reliable and better
performing device drivers to prevent many common causes of hangs and
crashes. Improved input/output (I/O) cancellation for device drivers
ensures that the operating system can recover gracefully from blocking
calls and that there are fewer blocking disk I/O operations.
To reduce downtime and restarts required for
application installations and updates, Windows Vista can use the update
process to mark in-use files for update and then automatically replace
the files the next time the application is started. In some cases,
Windows Vista can save the application's data, close the application,
update the in-use files, and then restart the application. To improve
overall system performance and responsiveness, Windows Vista uses
memory more efficiently, provides ordered execution for groups of
threads, and provides new process scheduling mechanisms. By optimizing
memory and process usage, Windows Vista ensures that background
processes have less performance impact on system performance.
Windows Vista provides improved guidance on the causes
of unresponsive conditions. By including additional error reporting
details in the event logs, Windows Vista makes it easier to identify
and resolve issues. To automatically recover from service failures,
Windows Vista uses service recovery policies more extensively than its
predecessors do. When recovering a failed service, Windows Vista
automatically handles both service and nonservice dependencies as well.
Any necessary dependent services and system components are started
prior to starting the failed service.
In earlier releases of Windows, an application crash or
hang is marked as not responding, and it is up to the user to exit and
then restart the application. Windows Vista attempts
to resolve the issue of unresponsive applications by using Restart
Manager. Restart Manager can shut down and restart unresponsive
applications automatically. Thanks to Restart Manager, you might not
have to intervene to try to resolve issues with frozen applications.
Failed installation and nonresponsive conditions of
applications and drivers are also tracked through Problem Reports And
Solutions. Should this occur, the built-in diagnostics displays a
"Check For Solutions" balloon message. If you click the balloon,
Windows Vista opens the Problem Reports And Solutions dialog box, which
enables you to check on the Internet for solutions to selected
problems. You can view a list of current problems at any time by
following these steps:
Click Start and then click Control Panel.
In Control Panel, click System And Maintenance and then click Problem Reports And Solutions.
In the Problem Reports And Solutions console, click See Problems To Check in the left pane.
A list of known problems is displayed, similar to what is shown in Figure 1. Select the check box for a problem and then click Check For Solutions to search the Microsoft Web site for possible solutions.
Figure 1: Check for known problems using the Problem Reports And Solutions dialog box.
Windows Vista attempts to resolve issues related to
running out of virtual memory by providing Resource Exhaustion
Detection And Recovery. This feature monitors the system-wide virtual
memory commit limit and alerts you if the computer is running low
on virtual memory. To enable you to correct this issue, it also
identifies the processes consuming the largest amount of memory,
allowing you to close any or all of these highly resource-consuming
applications directly from the Close Programs To Prevent Information
Loss dialog box provided. The resource exhaustion alert is also logged
in the System event log.
In earlier releases of Windows, corrupted system files
are one of the most common causes of startup failure. Windows Vista
includes built-in diagnostics to automatically detect corrupted system
files during startup and guide you through automated or manual
recovery. To resolve startup problems, Windows Vista includes the
Startup Repair Tool (StR). Once started, StR attempts to determine the
cause of the startup failure by analyzing startup logs and error
reports. Then StR attempts to fix the problem automatically. If StR is
unable to resolve the problem, it restores the system to the last known
working state and then provides diagnostic information and support
options for further troubleshooting.
StR is included on the Windows Vista installation disc
and can be preinstalled on computers. By preinstalling StR, you make it
available as an option on the Windows Advanced Startup Options menu. If
you don't preinstall StR and the system fails to start up, you can run
it from the Windows Vista installation disc by following these steps:
Insert the Windows Vista installation disc and then restart the computer.
Click View System Recovery Options (Advanced).
Type the name and password for an account on the computer.
Click Startup Repair in the list of recovery tools.
Follow the Startup Repair prompts to recover the system.
Hardware problems addressed by built-in diagnostics
include error detection and disk failure detection. If a device is
having problems, hardware diagnostics can detect error conditions and
either repair the problem automatically or guide the user through a
recovery process. With disk drives, hardware diagnostics can use fault
reports provided by disk drives to detect potential failure and alert
you before this happens. Hardware diagnostics can also help guide you
through the backup process after alerting you that a disk might be
Performance problems addressed by built-in diagnostics
include slow application startup, slow boot, slow standby/resume, and
slow shutdown. If a computer is experiencing degraded performance,
performance diagnostics can detect the problem and provide possible
solutions for resolving the problem. For advanced performance issues,
you can track related performance and reliability data in the
Performance Diagnostics console, which includes a performance monitor
and a reliability monitor.
problems addressed by built-in diagnostics include both memory leaks
and failing memory. A memory leak occurs if an application or system
component doesn't completely free areas of physical memory after it is
done with them. If you suspect that a computer has a memory problem
that is not being automatically detected, you can run Windows Memory
Diagnostics manually by completing the following steps:
Click Start, All Programs, Accessories.
Right-click Command Prompt and then select Run As Administrator.
At the command prompt, type mdsched.exe.
Choose whether to restart the computer and run the tool immediately or schedule the tool to run at the next restart.
Windows Memory Diagnostics runs automatically
after the computer restart, enabling you to choose the type of testing
to perform. Three different levels of memory testing can be performed,
from basic to exhaustive.
To detect system crashes possibly caused by
failing memory, memory diagnostics works with the Microsoft Online
Crash Analysis tool (OCA). If a computer crashes due to failing memory,
and memory diagnostics detect this, you are prompted to schedule a
memory test the next time the computer is restarted.