Windows Error Reporting
With Windows XP, Microsoft introduced a new tool for error reporting that has replaced most of the functionality originally covered by Dr. Watson. The new Error Reporting tool allows you various levels of reporting. By default, it is configured to report errors in both applications and the operating system directly to Microsoft, which allows its programmers the potential to use the information when creating new patches for the operating system. This "call home" functionality can be disabled by going to Error Reporting button on the Advanced tab of the System Control Panel applet. The Error Reporting button will open the Error Reporting dialog. This dialog allows you to disable the call home functionality but still have Windows report the errors to you; specify that Error Reporting works for both OS components and program; or use the Choose Programs button to specify which programs you want to have Error Reporting work with, or exclude.
When an application crashes you will see a message; while if Windows has a Stop error, you will see the message after you reboot and log in. By clicking the link at the bottom of the dialog box, you may find some additional information related to the error. When you see this dialog, you have the option of sending a summary of the error data and system state to Microsoft. If you disabled Error Reporting but kept the notify option enabled, you get a smaller dialog box which will not have an option for notifying Microsoft, and only an OK button to acknowledge the error.
Windows XP offers various logging tools, the greatest of which uses the Event Log service. The Event Log service logs errors and events into several different log files. The Event Viewer is the application you use to view the contents of these log files. Windows XP always has at least three default logs: Application, Security, and System. These log files have a default size of 512KB each and automatically overwrite events after seven days. These settings can be adjusted for each file by right-clicking the log file in Event Viewer and choosing Properties to open the System Properties dialog box.
In the event that any log fills up, you receive a pop-up message. When this happens, open the Event Viewer by choosing Start → Control Panels → Administrative Tools and then Event Viewer. To clear the log, right-click the log and choose Clear All Events. When you clear the log, you have the opportunity to save the events to a file.
Before clearing the filled log, examine the most recent events for an error that might have caused the log to fill quickly.