Providing Diagnostic Data

As I’ve said elsewhere, when you need help with a problem with Windows Networking, or Internet connectivity, the smart thing to do is to post a problem report, in a reliable and serious help forum, on the Internet. Unless you live on the edge, the chances are that somebody has already experienced your problem, and may already have a solution for it.

So post a properly written help request, with useful details, and wait for a response. When you get a response, the chances are it will include a request for some diagnostic data – for instance “browstat status”, or “ipconfig /all”.

Having run the requested diagostic, what are you going to do to include it in your next post? How you post your diagnostic data is almost as important as how you wrote the original problem report.

When you post diagnostic data, please post it as in-line text. Please do not use either attachments or pictures. This is very important in the serious help forums, where the experienced helpers may be overworked, and would appreciate your help.

  • Helpers work best when they can review your problem description and diagnostic data together, in the same message. Having to switch between multiple windows, with the problem description in one, and the diagnostic data in another, is not an efficient process.
  • Sometimes, your diagnostic data needs to be extracted, as text, and fed to another program (maybe a script to analyse it).

You want help? I assume the answer is “Yes”, since you’re here. Then Help The Helpers. In this example, we’ll see how to provide “ipconfig /all” output.

  • First, run

    ipconfig /all

    from the command prompt. Examine the output, and make sure that it’s what you wanted.

  • Next, run two commands, one after the other

    ipconfig /all >c:\ipconfig.txt
    notepad c:\ipconfig.txt

    from the command prompt. Note that you will get no feedback from the first command; the second will simply pop open a Notepad window. Nothing will show in the command window, except your commands.

  • Highlight the text in Notepad. Either selectively highlight text with the mouse, or hit Ctrl-A to highlight all of it.
  • Copy the highlighted text.
    • In most cases, Ctrl-C will work. Otherwise,
    • Right click on the highlighted text, and select “Copy” from the context menu, or
    • From the Edit menu, select “Copy”.
  • Paste the text into your message. Ctrl-V to Paste.

When you provide logs, such as “browstat status” or “ipconfig /all”, please note that there is much detail in there that may look useless to you. You may be afraid of revealing all of the details to strangers, too.

But be aware that the smallest detail in either of those diagnostics may provide useful in identifying your problem. Some details in there are useful in setting up the next step in diagnostics – CDiag, for instance. So when you’re tempted to edit the contents of either log, please resist the temptation. We’re trying to help you – help us to help you. Copy the entire content of each log into your posted messages. Please.

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