Windows 7 Catch-up: Reliability Monitor

Windows Vista introduced something I never used and forgot even existed, the Reliability Monitor. It’s had a re-vamp in Windows 7.

This is a tool providing a time-line of system events plotted against the overall stability of the PC. ‘Events’ include installing or removing of software and device drivers, application failures, and ‘unclean’ shut-downs. It was a vaguely useful tool for the support department and the hobbyists trying to perform diagnostics.

That is pretty much where it’s going to stay. The Windows 7 Reliability Monitor is now integrated with Problem Reports And Solutions…
Reliability Monitor exposes the reliability data via the delightfully named Windows Management Interface (WMI), which is the central resource for PowerShell scripts and WMI-related “cmdlets” (rant about that daft name forthcoming) to enable gathering reliability data remotely. WMI or the Microsoft System Center Operations Manager can be used to inspect the reliability of Windows 7 computers across the network and can be combined with PowerShell scripts for monitoring and alerts.

In the corporate environment you can identify unreliable PC’s that may be affecting user productivity, even if the users don’t bother to call the Help Desk. For example, Reliability Monitor can provide details about events on a specific day, including failed application installs and security updates. Basic reports breakdown by Applications failures, Windows failures, Miscellaneous failures, warnings and information.

This is one more resource in the armoury which Microsoft is building for IT departments to manage Windows 7. The standard ‘canned’ reports look usable and you can bet there’s a SQL-server database sitting behind them somewhere if you’re so inclined as to rustle up more of your own.

There’s a chance this may be one of those tools that allows some pro-active and not just reactive management of machines. Perhaps not a lot of use to an individual user (because you know how unreliable your PC is, right?) but anyone with a handful of machines, a small business, the family IT to support, they might well give the canned reports a look for a regular health check or in fault diagnosis. After all, the more tools are available for the professionals, the more the rest of us can benefit. AJS

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