Those with Windows Vista have a handy troubleshooting tool on hand in the form of the Reliability Monitor. This is much more user-friendly than the Event Viewer, but it doesn’t give as many details. To launch the Reliability Monitor, type ‘perf’ into the Vista search bar or right-click on Computer in the Start menu and choose Manage. In Windows 7, type ‘reliability’ in the search bar and click on ‘View reliability history’.
What’s particularly useful about the Reliability Monitor is that it graphs reliability over time (with a stability rating of 0 to 10), so you can see at a glance when problems began to occur, and whether your computer is currently performing well or not. Below the graph, you can see which type of failures occurred on a particular date, and you can also track software installs and uninstalls.
To see the reliability report for a particular day, either click on the graph directly or choose the date from the drop-down box on the right of the graph. lf more than 30 days’ worth of information is stored, you can use the scroll bar at the bottom to view The section you want.
If you click on a day when there was an application failure (marked by a red circle with a white ‘x’ in the Application Failures row), you may see a message saying something along the lines of “Outlook.exe stopped working”. This doesn’t help you to find the cause of the problem, but you could check the Event Viewer’s Application log on this date for more details.
Where the Reliability Monitor is useful is in tracking crashes after software installs or updates. If Windows or an application such as Outlook or lnternet Explorer has been crashing for a week or two and you’re not sure why, you can check the Reliability Monitor to see whether an update or another application was installed, which may be causing the problem.
Keeping up to date
Our top tip is to keep your computer fully up to date, with the latest Windows updates. Also, don’t ignore pop-up update requests from applications and plug-ins, such as Adobe’s Flash player for browsers. Finally, ensure that your graphics card drivers are kept up to date. Nvidia and AMD usually update drivers each month, and this can improve game reliability, especially for new titles.
Don’t worry too much about the actual reliability figure shown by the graph. This is arguably a gimmick, and doesn’t really tell you much. However, it’s still quite satisfying to track down problems that are causing applications or Windows to crash and seeing the resulting rise in reliability over a few weeks.