Rings reveal a lot about trees. Each spring and summer, a tree adds new layers of wood to its trunk. The spring-formed wood is made up of large cells and appears lighter. During the summer, growth is slower, thus, the cells are smaller and the wood is darker. When, sadly, a tree is cut, the alternating colors appear as layers and thus counting the dark layers indicates the age of the tree. Beyond the age of a tree, the tree rings reveal a great deal about what occurred during its life; and that is what dendrochronology is all about. This kind of study allows researchers to learn more about the local climate conditions that the tree experienced during its lifetime. Things that can be ascertained from careful dendrochronological analysis include: precipitation and temperature patterns, whether the tree was exposed to insect infestation, or scarred by a fire at one point.

Tapping in, viewing and analyzing what is happening in Event Logs help identify and address problems early on

In a similar way, your computer or server provides a way to track significant events in the life of the machine in Event Logs. IT professionals “tap in” (see what we did there ) to event logs to determine the events and happenings in the life of the computer that are unseen to the general user. In most cases, a user will never have to view an event log. However, if your PC starts to show some unhealthy signs, the Event Viewer on a Windows machine might be your first way to do some dendrochronological analysis of your PC!

For the average PC user, generally there is no reason to check these logs if the PC is acting properly. As a best practice, IT Radix professionals peruse these Event Logs on servers as a matter of course on a regularly scheduled basis. We do so because tapping in, viewing and analyzing what is happening in those logs can provide great value in identifying and addressing a problem very early on…before it becomes a crisis.

Applications, Systems and Security are key categories to review

The key categories that are typically reviewed are Applications, Systems and Security. Application logs record events related to Windows components such as drivers and built-in interface elements. System logs record events related generally to non-Windows programs installed on the machine. Security logs record events related to security such as logon attempts and access to system resources. Each log contains different kinds of information such as errors, warnings, audit failures, etc. Lack of knowledge of these data points can cause unneeded confusion or concern, so ideally a professional should help. However, if you do use Event Viewer to view these logs, the best advice we can give is to read all of it with a grain of salt, because some items that are usually meaningless and items of grave importance can look the same! We suggest you let professionals like IT Radix handle this.

The good news is that unlike real dendrochronological analysis that is used by nature scientists where study can only happen after the tree is dead, with Event Logs which track and record critical events in real time, review can occur when the PC is still alive and kicking!  Contact us to learn how IT Radix can help you take a proactive approach to managing your technology.

First published in our June 2018 IT Radix Resource newsletter