In my last post, I described how you can view the Windows Error Reporting (.wer) files through the Action Center. Today, I will review the free portable tool AppCrashView that has essentially the same purpose as the Windows Error Reporting tool. However, the freeware utility has a few advantages.

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First of all, Windows Error Reporting does not show all available information. Whereas AppCrashView shows you the exact content of the .wer files, the Windows Error Reporting applet displays only the most relevant data. For example, you can't see the DLLs that have been loaded by the corresponding application when it crashed. Thus, if you want to know exactly what information is sent to Microsoft, you should use AppCrashView.

This free tool automatically collects all .wer files and displays them in a table with configurable columns. You can move the columns and sort the list according to each column. The Windows Error Reporting applet also allows you to sort the .wer entries, but it only offers four different columns. What I am missing in AppCrashView is the ability to group error reports.

Another advantage of AppCrashView is that it displays the contents of the .wer file in the lower pane, enabling you to easily skim over multiple .wer files by scrolling through the list. Conversely, with the built-in WER applet you always have to move back and forth between the technical details view and the listing.

AppCrashView also works under Windows PE 3.0. To view the Windows error reports of an offline Windows installation, you have to tell AppCrashView where it can find the user profiles folder and the ProgramData folder when you launch the tool from the command line:

appcrashview /ProfilesFolder c:\Users /ProgramData c:\ProgramData

Last but not least, AppCrashView comes with a reporting feature that allows you to export all or some selected error reports into a text or HTML file. You can also use the tool in scripts to collect the information of all .wer files in your network.

In my next post, I will discuss the question of whether it makes sense to disable Windows Error Reporting or not.

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