At the risk of teaching grandma to suck eggs (although I’ve never quite known why she’d want to do that) there’s a website out there in cyberspace which deserves your attention if your job involves keeping cantankerous Microsoft Windows servers humming rather than hanging. As you are all no doubt aware, whenever something is going wrong, or even about to go wrong with a server, the Event Logs start to fill up with interesting missives telling you not very much most of the time.
If you’re really on the ball you’ll be getting emails every time an event occurs which is deemed to be a ‘warning’ or ‘error’ using monitoring software like Server Monitor from Power Admin, which I’ve already told you about so pay attention. You then stare blankly at the Event ID number, puzzle over the obscure description and on the rare occasions when Microsoft actually has something to say about this particular problem, click the link for “more information”. Doing this is about the same as clicking on the links provided in Nigerian email spam – you might just get lucky but you probably won’t.
The next step is to Google the Event ID to find out who else on the planet has been bitten by the same problem and whether they had a clue how to fix it, before your users start a meltdown on the support phones. There again you might get lucky, with usually better results than those offered directly by Microsoft. Probably right up there with the chance of your genitals getting bigger if you follow the links provided by those other crafty spammers. Surely there’s a better way, and of course there is, which is why I’ve sucked you into reading this far.
The better way is a website called Eventid.net which you can visit for free, enter in the Event ID number and the source (optional but it narrows the search) and see what pops up. What nearly always pops up is a raft of responses from real world systems support people, telling you what they did to resolve the situation, and pointing you to the detailed response from Microsoft on the issue – should there actually be one. This website has saved my bacon numerous times. Sometimes the very first answer works, other times you end up trying several until you find one that works on your servers.
The only thing more amazing than the way the correct answer is so often totally unrelated to the original error message, is how these people ever came across the solution in the first place. But thankfully, they mostly come up with the goods, and you can then confidently display your new-found knowledge in an advisory email to your masters which, of course, they won’t understand but it will once again confirm their belief that you are, indeed, a Geek God.
Although the site is free, you can join up if you like, for not much money, which basically is a donation to help keep the thing going. What you do get for your donation is the ability to click on the links to connect directly to any Microsoft bulletins affecting your issue. Of course if you’re too cheap to donate money, you just copy the numerical part of the link into Google and add ‘Microsoft’ then hit search and you’ll end up at the same place. Don’t ask me how I know this – it’s not like I’m a cheapskate or anything – I’m just on a tight budget. But if you hadn’t heard about this website before, check it out. Or send your tech support people over to take a look. Recommended.