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Are You Utilizing Microsoft’s Reliability Monitor?

Are You Utilizing Microsoft’s Reliability Monitor?

OK IT people: How many of you have ever received the following phone call?

"Hi. My computer worked yesterday. My computer doesn’t work today. Help!"

I can hear everyone saying, "I've gotten that call too many times to count!" 

IT professionals receive some variation of this call all of the time in the IT support world. One of the primary investigative questions we ask in response is: "What changed?"

While you know everyone in your organization will always tell you the truth and will always have an accurate idea of what they did on the computer, it may shock you to learn that in other organizations, some of the users will not be so knowledgeable or they may actually lie to you (gasp!).

You might hear something similar to the following:

  • "I loaned my work laptop to my kids last night, and they were playing games on it."
  • "My son-in-law wanted to use my computer to try something."
  • "But the email instructed me to click on the attachment."

Wouldn’t it be nice if Microsoft provided us with a tool that told us what changed in an attempt to better help us narrow the source of a problem?

Enter Reliability Monitor

Reliability Monitor is one of the most useful and under-discussed tools included with modern versions of Windows (client and server). It holds data for a year and can be organized on a per day or per week basis. It tells you whether an error was application, OS, or hardware based. And it tells you about any installations (successful or failed), any updates, and any driver changes. It also rates the overall reliability of the computer on a scale of 1-10 based on the frequency of these errors.

This helps you pinpoint the origin of problems on the system. For example, if reliability was very high until that new driver was installed, well, there’s your culprit. If reliability problems started after particular Windows updates, now you know. You can even save the reliability data to perform comparisons between machines or to archive data for Service Level Agreements.

Home users can also use this tool to help with basic troubleshooting; consultants can reach for this tool early on to find out the overall trustworthiness of a server; and Administrators can archive results for compliance.


Sometime today, take 10 minutes and investigate Microsoft’s Reliability Monitor. Simply go to the search menu and enter the word "reliability" to find out what changed.

Damon GarnAuthor: Damon Garn, Technical Instructor
MCT, MCSA, MCITP:SA, MCSE:S, ITIL, Linux+/LPIC-1, Security+, Network+, A+

Damon has nearly 16 years of experience as a classroom and online instructor, specializing in Windows Server and Linux courses. He is an experienced admin who enjoys empowering students with knowledge and ideas. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and playing guitar.


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