to the computer. To examine these logs, you use the Event Viewer snap-in, available via
either of the following techniques:
• Select Start, Run, type
eventvwr.msc, and then click OK.
• Open Control Panel’s Administrative Options icon and launch the Event Viewer
Figure 12.12 shows a typical Event Viewer window. Use the tree in the left pane to select
the log you want to view: Application, Security, or System.
Setting Up a 10-Step Maintenance Schedule 303
FIGURE 12.12 Use the Event Viewer to monitor events generated by applications and
When you select a log, the right pane displays the available events, including the event’s
date, time, and source, its type (Information, Warning, or Error), and other data. To see a
description of an event, double-click it or select it and press Enter.
Rather than monitoring the event logs by hand, Windows XP comes with a couple of tools that
can help automate the process. The Eventquery.vbs script enables you to query the log files for
specific event types, IDs, sources, and more. Search Help and Support for eventquery to get the
script’s command-line syntax. Also, you can set up an event trigger that will perform some
action when a particular event occurs. You do this using the Eventtriggers.exe utility. Search
Help and Support for eventtriggers to get the full syntax for this tool.
Setting Up a 10-Step Maintenance Schedule
Maintenance is effective only if it’s done regularly, but there’s a fine line to be navigated.
If maintenance is performed too often, it can become a burden and interfere with more
interesting tasks; if it’s performed too seldom, it becomes ineffective. So, how often
should you perform the 10 maintenance chores listed in this chapter? Here’s a 10-step
1. Check your hard disk for errors. Run a basic scan about once a week. Run a more
thorough disk surface scan once a month. The surface scan takes a long time, so run
it when you won’t be using your computer for a while.
2. Check free disk space. Do this once about once a month. If you have a drive where
the free space is getting low, check it approximately once a week.
3. Delete unnecessary files. If free disk space isn’t a problem, run this chore once every
two or three months.
4. Defragment your hard disk. How often you defragment your hard disk depends on
how often you use your computer. If you use it every day, you should run Disk
Defragmenter about once a week. If your computer doesn’t get heavy use, you prob-
ably need to run Disk Defragmenter only once a month or so.
5. Set restore points. Windows XP already sets regular system checkpoints, so you need
only create your own restore points when you’re installing a program or device or
making some other major change to your system.
6. Back up your files. Perform a full backup of all your documents, as well as a backup
of the system state, about once a month. Carry out a differential backup of modified
files once a week. Complete an incremental or daily backup of modified files every
7. Check Windows Update. If you’ve turned off automatic updating, you should check
in with the Windows Update website about once a week.
8. Check for security vulnerabilities. Run the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer once
a month. You should also pay a monthly visit to Microsoft’s Security site to keep up
to date on the latest security news, get security and virus alerts, and more:
9. Verify digitally signed files. If other people use your computer regularly, you should
run the Signature Verification Tool every couple of months.
10. Review Event Viewer logs. If your system appears to be working fine, you need only
check the Application and System log files weekly or every couple of weeks. If the
system has a problem, check the logs daily to look for Warning or Error events.
Remember, as well, that Windows XP offers a number of options for running most of
these maintenance steps automatically:
• If you want to run a task every day, set it up to launch automatically at startup, as
described in Chapter 5, “Installing and Running Applications.”
• Use the Task Scheduler (Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Scheduled
Tasks) to set up a program on a regular schedule. Note that some programs, particu-
larly Disk Defragmenter, can’t be scheduled in their GUI form. You need to use the
command-line version instead.
CHAPTER 12 Maintaining Your Windows XP System304