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  1. Introduction
  2. Capabilities
  3. Structure
  4. The Registry
  5. System and Configuration Files
  6. Security
  7. Application Support
  8. Requirements
  9. Installation
  10. Unattended Installation
  11. Booting
  12. Filesystems
  13. Programs
  14. Control Panel
  15. Tool
  16. Commands
  17. Customization
  18. Environment Variables
  19. Printing
  20. Performance
  21. System Services
  22. Permissions
  23. Groups
  24. User Rights and Auditing
  25. User Profiles
  26. Policies
  27. Network Model
  28. Resource Access
  29. Network Browsing
  30. Protocol Support
  31. RAS
  32. Networking
  33. Backups
  34. Events
  35. Error Handling
  36. Diagnostic Tools
  37. Items to Memorize
  38. Terms
  39. Credits

Windows NT Diagnostic tools

System Facts/Debugging Ideas

When Windows NT boots, it performs a functional test of the system hardware and it may not boot if a failure is found. If this is the case, booting an operating system such as DOS may be of use in isolating and fixing the system problem.

The DOS command "fdisk /mbr" will rewrite a new master boot record to the primary partition. This may be used if the partition was messed up when a power failure occurred and the system was writing to disk at the time. According to documentation, performing this command will not prevent the NT operating system from booting. However, I would think it would overwrite the NT boot loader in the master boot record. However this would indicate that NT actually boots by having the DOS boot record program look for either bootsect.dos or ntldr on the primary partition and use information there to run the NT bootloader.

Available Tools

There are four main Windows NT Diagnostic tools or methods:

  1. WinMSD - Windows NT Diagnostic Tool is an administrative tool selected from the "Start", "Programs", "Administrative tools" menu.
  2. Event Viewer is also an administrative tool that will allow viewing of events which may help determine the cause of a problem.
  3. DRWTSN32 - Dr. Watson can be used to debug application errors. It is either invoked (started) from a DOS window or from the command prompt using "Start", "Run".
  4. Memory dumps - The Control Panel, System applet, Startup/Shutdown tab can be used to enable memory dumps. This method is only useful for those who can read this kind of information. Usually this information would be analyzed by Microsoft support.

Windows NT Diagnostics (WinMSD)

This utility displays information from the registry about your computer. It includes the following tabs:

  • Version - Displays NT version and build along with the registered user.
  • System - Motherboard information, BIOS date and manufacturer, HAL, and microprocessor type.
  • Display - Video BIOS date, Video card type and settings, video memory, the chip type and the vendor.
  • Drives - A list of volumes grouped by type including CD-ROM, network drives, floppy and hard drive. The free space, sector and cluster size can be viewed here.
  • Memory - Shows available memory and how much the kernel is using and page file.
  • Services - Shows available services and their status. There are two buttons which are "services" and "device". The services button is used to view software services and the devices button is used to view device driver status associated with hardware.
  • Resources - Shows hardware status by selecting one of six buttons to view the resources. The buttons are IRQ, I/O Port, DMA, Memory, and Devices.
  • Environment - Displays environment variables for the system and user.
  • Network - Displays information about the computers network configuration such as the domain name, user access level, current user and more.

Dr. Watson

Invoking DR Watson starts a GUI setup utility for logging application failures and saving data relating to the failures. It allows:

  • A dumpfile name to be set up.
  • A selected wave file to be played when an application error is detected.
  • Options selected using checkboxes are:
    • Dump Symbol Table
    • Dump All Thread Contents
    • Append To Existing Log File
    • Visual Notification
    • Sound Notification
    • Create Crash Dump File