Author Archives: Michael Karsyan

Event Log Explorer 5 beta 2

Recently we released a new beta of Event Log Explorer 5 and I will show you what features we added.

One of the great new features is a Task. The task defines what events will be picked, which computers from and how they will be displayed.

Example of a task: Display all warning, error and critical events from System and Application logs of VM2012 and SERV1 servers for the last day.

Let’s create it. To create this task, select Tree->Create Task from the main menu.

Input the task name (Sample task) and optionally describe the task.

Press Next button.

Add names of the computers from which the application will query events. Note that if you don’t add computers, Event Log Explorer will query events from the local computer.

Press Next button.

Add event log names you want to get events from. We will query Application and System logs only.

Press Next.

Now we should create an event query. We can simply use UI to build the query or type the query manually in the box. In the most cases you should not type the event query manually. So we will just tick Warning, Error and Critical levels and enable option to get events for the last 1 day.

Press Next button.

Leave the columns configuration unchanged for this task and press Next.

The task is ready. Tick “Start task now” and press Finish.

The task is started and will be displayed in a view Sample Task.

Note that the task was also added to the Tree. So now you can run it from the tree anytime.

Predefined task templates

Event Log Explorer comes with a set of predefined task templates. These templates let your run standard administrative tasks without learning how to create them.

Let’s take my old article Exploring who logged on the system and try to realize it with help of a template.

In the Objects tree browse to Task Templates->Audit.

You will find Audit logons template.

Double click on this template – it will create a new task based on the template.

In this task just switch to Computers page, add the server name and press Finish button. A new task (Audit Logons) will appear in the tree. Double click on it to run it.

Voila!  The event view displays not only logon events, but it also set up custom columns and displays custom columns – User name and Logon type.

Note that we are currently accepting your suggestions on what predefined templates we should add to the program. You can even create a template yourself. To create a template, just create a task, click Save button menu and select Save as template.

We look forward to your feedback and suggestions on the latest version of Event Log Explorer. You can download it at


How to display logons of non-domain users to the system

Sometimes you may need to display who logons your server except for the authenticated domain users. It could be authenticated users from the trusted domain, local users, system services, etc.

First, we define that we will filter the Security log by Event Id = 4624 (as we did before).

The event description of this event looks like

An account was successfully logged on.


                Security ID:                             S-1-0-0

                Account Name:                       –

                Account Domain:                    –

                Logon ID:                00000000

Logon Type:                                           3

Impersonation Level:                              Impersonation

New Logon:

                Security ID:                             S-1-5-21-3517536955-4254224319-112489931-1107

                Account Name:                       Michael

                Account Domain:                    FSPRO

                Logon ID:                017448C0

                Logon GUID:                           {00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}

Process Information:

New logon group describes the details of a user who logs on. Let’s display events 4624 where New Logon\Account name is not FSPro. It is very easy to do using Event Log Explorer filter.

Using filter to display non-domain users

This method works well, but it has several drawbacks:

  • Filtering by description params works not so fast – Event Log Explorer parses the description every time and checks its params.
  • Filtering by description params depends on the Windows language. In non-English systems, param names like Account Domain could be translated.
  • This approach won’t work with Elodea – if you decide to make such a feed.
  • It works only with Event Log Explorer. In Windows Event Viewer this or similar functionality is not available.

XML Query doesn’t have these drawbacks, but it’s harder to compose.

Double click on 4624 event and switch to XML tab.

We need to exclude events with TargetDomainName equals to FSPRO.

You may consider that the XML query should look like


    <Query Id=”0″ Path=”Security”>

        <Select Path=”Security”>



           *[EventData[Data[@Name=’TargetDomainName’] and (Data!=’FSPRO’)]]




But this query is wrong. Clause “*[EventData[Data[@Name=’TargetDomainName’] and (Data!=’FSPRO’)]]” will return true in most cases since Data has multi values for the most events.

The correct XML query is:


    <Query Id=”0″ Path=”Security”>

        <Select Path=”Security”>







The result of this query:

non domain logons - result

Download Event Log Explorer right now and try your own event filtering tasks.


Windows Event. Level, Keywords or Type.

When you take the first look to Event Log Explorer, you may notice Type column in the event list. In the same time, Windows Event Viewer doesn’t have this column, which may confuse you.

If you worked with Windows Event Viewer in old times (with Windows XP or below), you could see the Type column. There were 5 types of events that can be logged in the classic Windows event log: Error, Warning, Information, Audit Success, and Audit Failure. The last 2 types were used for the Security log only.

Since Windows Vista (Windows Server 2008), Microsoft removed Type from the event schema and replaced it with Level. Windows uses the following levels: Critical, Error, Warning, Information, Verbose (although software developers may extend this set and add own specific levels). These levels define event severity, but they don’t define auditing status (success or failure). There is a new event attribute called keywords. Keywords is a 64-bit mask, every bit of each may represent a keyword. 2 bits of this mask represent Audit Success and Audit Failure events.

When a modern Windows Event Viewer displays the Security event log, it shows Keywords column and hides Level column by default. When it displays the other logs, it shows Level and hides Keywords. We believed that this behavior is not very smart and decided to leave classic behavior. So, we added Type column and removed Level and Keywords from the event list. When Event Log Explorer displays events, it defines the source of the event first. If this is an audit event from the Security log, it checks the keywords and displays either Audit Success or Audit Failure as the event type. If this event is not from the security log, it displays the event level as a type. We believe that this approach is better because we can merge security and other events in one list and show only one column for this. And this provides better compatibility with classic event logs as well.

Anyway, if you need to access real level and keywords attributes, you can always doubleclick on the even and check the XML representation of the event.

Download Event Log Explorer right now and check the benefits it brings in comparison with Windows Event Viewer.


PowerShell may spoil command-line arguments when running external programs

Nowadays, Windows PowerShell is considered as a replacement of the classic Windows Console (Command Prompt) utility. In Windows 10, it can be set as a default console in Win+X menu

In most cases, when you run command-line utilities from PowerShell and Command Prompt, they will behave exactly the same. However, we discovered that sometimes our command-line utilities work incorrectly when starting from PowerShell, while there are no problems with CMD. After researching, we found that PowerShell may modify command line parameters.

I wrote a simple program which displays its own command-line string:

int main(int argc, char *argv[], char *envp[]) {

	_tprintf(_T("\nCommand line: %s\n"), GetCommandLine());


Let’s run this program in Command Prompt and  PowerShell with the following arguments:

param1 “param2” ‘param3’ “param 4” ‘param 5’ “param/6” ‘param/7’

As you can see, the output of this program exactly matches the input.

Surprise! PowerShell changes command line by removing the quotation marks when an argument has no space and replacing single quotes with the double quotes. And this may affect third-party utilities.

Why does PowerShell do that?

PowerShell is not just a console to run programs. It is a system to run scripts. And it considers strings enclosed in quotes as PowerShell strings.


First, if you come across such an issue, we recommend you contact the developers and report this issue. In our products, we will fix these incompatibility issues soon.

As a workaround, you can enclose double quotes inside single quotes or use two sequential double quotes:

All seems to be OK except ‘param 5’ parameter, but I believe It’s more important that param/6 and param/7 problems were fixed since they could conflict with command-line switches.


New utility to export event logs into different formats

Event Log Explorer can export events into Excel, HTML, CSV and PDF files. The export is implemented as an option of user interface and it can be scheduled using internal Event Log Explorer scheduler. Some time ago, I wrote a couple of articles how to schedule export of events into Excel:

Both methods are not without drawbacks. The Powershell method doesn’t work well with multi-line descriptions, and Event Log Explorer scheduler requires you to have Event Log Explorer running.

That’s why we are removing the scheduler from Event Log Explorer and releasing a new command-line utility to export events into document files. LogExport utility will be included with new Event Log Explorer 5 and it’s designed to export Event Log Explorer tasks (special event views). However, you can use it even right now to export the whole event logs or log files.

LogExport utility (beta version) is available for download at

Now it comes as a part of Event Log Explorer Enterprise Edition.

LogExport can save your events in Microsoft Excel (XLSX), Open Document (ODS), CSV, HTML and PDF files. As a console utility, you can schedule it with Task Manager. The command-line interface is clear and well documented. The usage details are available when you run the utility without parameters.


To export local Security log into Excel file, just run it as follows:

logexport /LOGNAME:Security

Note that you may need to run it as administrator to access the security log.

To export Application log from server SERV1 into App.pdf file, run it as follows:

logexport /HOST:SERV1

To export file C:\Logs\Systembackup.evtx into a set of HTML pages, run

logexport /LOGNAME:"C:\Logs\Systembackup.evtx" /TARGET:HTML

We are waiting for your comments, suggestions and bugreport.

Don’t want to use beta version until final release? Download the latest release of Event Log Explorer to explore and export your events right now!


Using different opening methods to read event log files

Event Log Explorer comes with 3 methods of opening event log files: Standard, New API and Direct. Such an abundance of options may confuse users when choosing the method.

“What opening method should I use?” – a very common question of our customers.

The answer is very simple:

In most cases use New API method.

But what the other methods for?

First, I should remind that Event Log Explorer supports 2 formats of Event Log Files: classic  EVT and modern EVTX. Windows NT, 2000 and XP/2003 log events into EVT files. To access these files Windows introduced a special Event Logging API which we call StandardAPI). Starting from Windows Vista/2008, Windows uses EVTX format. In the same time a new Windows Event Log API was introduced. For compatibility reasons, Windows allowed to open any file with any API although since Windows 7 support of EVT files was terminated.

In addition to Windows API, we developed our own way to access event files without using any API (direct access).

So if you have a modern Windows PC and you want to read classic EVT files, you have no choice except Direct method. More details are available in this article.

And if you want to open EVTX files, always use New API method. Using Standard method would also work, but for some events it may give you incorrect details. You can use Standard method e.g. if you are a software developer and make your own logging. In this case you may check your log to verify how it will look in legacy event log viewers. Direct method for EVTX files was designed to access these files on old Windows XP machines or to access corrupted EVTX log files.

Download Event Log Explorer and open your event files right now!


How to track printer usage with event logs

At the time, the US companies spend a total of $120 billion on printed forms annually, and each employee uses about 10,000 sheets of paper according to CompTIA. That’s why printer usage monitoring is very important to cut costs for printer supplies and their utilization. Another reason to know who and how uses corporate printers is to manage your resources and plan upgrades or downgrades of certain printers or print servers.

If you google for “printer usage” or similar phrases, you will find dozens of special software to monitor printers. As a rule, these programs are installed on print servers and most of them are not cheap.

However, you can track printer usage without any third-party software by analyzing Windows events of Print Spooler. And use of Event Log Explorer makes this process much better.

To start monitoring you should enable logging to log \Microsoft-Windows-PrintService/Operational:

Start Event Log Explorer (or Event Viewer), connect to your print server from Event Log Explorer or Windows Event Viewer, browse to event log Microsoft-Windows\\Microsoft-Windows-PrintService/Operational, click right mouse button on it and select Properties.

In Log Properties dialog tick Enable Logging.


Or just run wevutil utility in the elevated prompt as follows:

sl Microsoft-Windows-PrintService/Operational /e:true  /r:<Server_name>

I assume that you have a print server (Server_name) in your network (running Windows 2008 or higher) and your users print documents via this server. If you have printers connected directly to the user computers, you should consider these computes as print servers and enable logging to PrintService/Operational on them.

If you want to monitor what exactly your user print, I recommend enabling “Allow job name in event logs” policy to log documents name. If you run Windows 2012 or Windows 8, you may need to apply a Windows update as described here.

Now when a user prints a document, several events will be logged into PrintService/Operatinal event log.

The most interesting event for printer usage tracking is event 307 (document was printed). If you open event details of this event and switch to XML representation, you will get detailed information about printing.

Param1 is a print job identifier and can be used to link with other events in this log.
Param2 is a document name (if you didn’t enable “Allow job name in event logs” policy, the document name will be “Print Document”.
Param3 and Param4 define document owner and computer from which the document was sent to print.
Param5 is a printer name.
Param6 is a name of the print server port.
Param7 is a document size in bytes sent to print server.
Param8 is a total number of pages printed by this print job.

So, let’s display some of these details in Event Log Explorer. I will add a printer user (a document owner), printer name, and number of pages as event list columns.

First, we need to filter unnecessary events out and display only events with event id = 307. Press Filter button and type 307 in Event ID(s) filed of the Filter window.

Now we should add custom columns. Select View->Custom columns from the main menu and add the first column (Printer user) as follows:

Column title: Printer user
Value: {PARAM[3]}

Switch to Column 2 tab and add the second column:

Column title: Printer
Value: {PARAM[5]}

Switch to Column 3 tab and add the second column:

Column title: Pages
Value: {PARAM[8]}

Press OK to finish and you will see 3 columns in the event list with your data.

Now you can run Analytical Report and select Custom Column1 stats.  This will summarize user print sessions and let you detect users who print a lot. However, this summary doesn’t take into account the number of pages, so I recommend using Excel for more accurate assessment.

To export to Excel, select File -> Export Log from the main menu. Select Excel 2007 document as a target format, make sure that All events is selected as export scope and tick fields Printer User, Printer and Pages. You can untick other fields.

Press Export button and save your data in XLSX document.

That’s it. Now you can open your XLSX file in Excel and build summary reports from it.

P.S. Some companies may still use old Windows 2003 server to run their print servers. And Event Log Explorer will help in this case too. Print events for Windows 2003 are recorded into System log. Event source is Print, event id = 10. To display Printer user, Printer and page count as custom columns use {PARAM[4]}  {PARAM[5]} and {PARAM[8]} respectively.

Download Event Log Explorer and start exploring your events right now!


Windows Event Viewer cannot read classic event logs anymore

Update of May 18, 2020: It looks like Windows 10 1909 doesn’t have this issue.

Although era of Windows XP is over, there are still a great number of PCs running this operating system or Windows 2003 Server. According to different researches, in 2018 Windows XP market share was more than 4% of all desktop operating systems. Windows 2003 Server still has more than 10% of server operating systems. Moreover, Microsoft still supports Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 which is based on Windows XP.

This means that millions of computers across the globe still run XP-based OS and log their events in classic (evt) event logs.

When Windows Vista appeared in 2007, it introduced a new event log format along with new Event Viewer. This Event Viewer went through Windows 7, 8, and got to Windows 10 practically unchanged. It was designed to open event log files in both formats – new (evtx) and legacy (evt).

Unfortunately, Windows API doesn’t support evt files anymore and API function OpenBackupEventLog returns error 1500  (Log file is corrupted) when opening evt files. That’s why many third-party event viewers cannot read evt files on modern Windows. Event Viewer parses evt files and displays them like native evtx files. However, Windows 10 Event Viewer stopped working correctly.  First, we noticed that it doesn’t display event date and time for evt log files exported with Event Log Explorer (our application can export events to legacy format). Suggesting that this issue could be a bug of Event Log Explorer, we took several event log files from Windows XP – we saved several event logs as files using Windows XP Event Viewer and got a couple of “live” legacy event logs. In every case, Windows 10 Event Viewer failed to display event datetime for these log files.

Windows Event Viewer doesn't display date time of classic legacy logs.

Since event timestamp is a key field for any forensic examination, this makes impossible using Windows Event Viewer as a forensic tool for legacy log analysis.

Event Log Explorer doesn’t have this problem and displays event date and time correctly.

Event Log Explorer displays date and time correctly

Want to read evt files? Download Event Log Explorer now!


Elodea – First Review

Recently we released a new product that collects events from different sources, sends them into a database and alerts on important events.

Elodea (acronym for Event Log Dispatcher and Event Alerter).

The program and its documentation are available on this page:

In this article I will demonstrate how to setup and configure Elodea on your PC.

To simplify the demonstration process, we will work solely with a local computer. But you can use this experience when setting up Elodea in your network.

First, you will need to install Microsoft SQL Server.

Elodea supports all SQL Servers editions (starting from SQL Server 2008), so you may try even free SQL Server Express available at

You can use any Windows (server or workstation) starting from Windows Server 2008 (or Windows Vista).

Install SQL Server on your computer. You can setup it with the default installation options.

It is not necessary, but I would recommend to install SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). SQL Server installer may prompt you to install SSMS or you can download it from

Download Elodea and Event Log Explorer from

Start Elodea installer by running file elodea_setup.exe

Follow the setup wizard steps. When the Setup prompts you to install Collector Service, select to install it under a User account and input your own Windows user name and password in the related lines.

Elodea - service setup.

We will run the service under a user account because SQL Server Express by default enables only Windows user authentication and assigns the dbo rights to a user who installed the SQL Server.

Now you can configure Elodea by starting Elodea Event Collector Settings from Windows Start menu.

Elodea - Service tab

Review the Settings tab and make sure that the service not started. Switch to the Db Connection tab to configure database connection.

Input localhost\SQLEXPRESS into Db Connection (this is the default instance name for SQL Server Express on a local computer, you can also use COMPUTER_NAME\ SQLEXPRESS).

Elodea DB connection tab

Click Create new database to create a new database. A new window will appear.

Create a new database

Click Connect button, type Elodea into the Database name, and then click Create button. You will see a message that the database was created, then this window will be closed and the program will connect to this new database.

Switch to SMTP Connection to set up connection to a SMTP server to receive alerts from Elodea.

SMTP settings

Type your SMTP server name, input SMTP port number and enable SSL connection if required. Enter your name and your password and then click Check now to verify connection and save your settings.

Switch to the Feeds tab.

Feed is a special Elodea entity that describes what events and from what sources will be collected by Elodea.

Elodea feeds

Create a feed for Application events by clicking on Add feed button.

Create a new feed

Type AppEvents into as feed name and change Description mode to 3 – all. Click Ok.

Create a subscription in AppEvents feed

Then create a subscription in this Feed by clicking on Add subscription button.

Set Subscription model to Push and set XML query to __application_all.xml. Click Test button to verify the selected XML query is valid. Press OK button.

We created a Standard feed subscribing to all application events on a local computer.

Let’s create a feed that receive error events from Application and System logs and sends email notifications on errors:

Create Add feed button.

Type Errors into Feed name, change Type to Alarm and change Description mode to 3.

Create Alarm feed

Note that a new type Actions appear in the top of this window. Switch to this tab.

Action details on alarm feed

Select Email option, then input your email details into From, To and Subject fields. Make sure that addresses are valid. Set Template to __default.txt and click OK button.

Press Add subscription, set Subscription model to Push and set XML query to __application_system_error.xml, then press OK.

Now you have 2 feeds, AppEvents and Errors.

Let’s try it! Switch to the Service tab and click Start and make sure that the service status has changed to running. Make several events in the application log.

Open Windows Command Prompt and type commands:

eventcreate /id:1 /d:"test event" /t:Information
eventcreate /id:2 /d:"test event" /t:Warning
eventcreate /id:3 /d:"test event" /t:Error
eventcreate /id:4 /d:"test event" /t:Information 
EventCreate command

Let’s view what is in the database. You can check it using SQL Server Management Studio, but it is better to view the database using Event Log Explorer:

Start Event Log Explorer.

Select Database -> Connect from the main menu.

Enter localhost\SQLEXPRESS into Database server field, tick Use operating system authentication, type Elodea into Database name field, then click OK.

Now you can load tables. Select Database -> Load table from the main menu.

Select fd_AppEvents, then select Database -> Load table again and select fd_Errors.

2 tabs will appear in Event Log Explorer:


AppEvents feed in Event Log Explorer


Errors feed in Event Log Explorer

And you can work with these tables in Event Log Explorer as you work with a general event logs. E.g. you can run analytical reports for these events:


Error feed should also collect errors from the system log. Test it:

eventcreate /id:100 /d:"test event" /t:Error

Verify email notifications:

email notification about error event

Now you can quit Elodea event collector settings – the collector service will continue working all the time when your computer is on.


Event Log Database Exporter

One of the great features in Event Log Explorer 4.7 is a command line utility to export event logs to the database (eldbx.exe). Using this utility, you can make a centralized storage of events for better forensic investigations and improve system and security management on your network.

In the previous article I described how to export events into the database directly from Event Log Explorer application. You can use new Database -> Upload to table command to save a current log view into a SQL table. However, this method has a number of drawbacks:

  • You need to open event log before export
  • It is difficult to export many logs in a row
  • If exporting XML data option enabled, the whole export procedure may take very long time.

Event Log Database Export Utility (eldbx.exe) is free of these drawbacks.  It’s a console utility and you can use it in batch files to export different logs in a row. And it is always exporting XML data fast enough.

The utility is described in Event Log Explorer documentation.

The output table is compatible with Elodea table format. And you can load the exported tables in Event Log Explorer using Database -> Load table command.

How to use Event Log Database Exporter.

The utility is compatible with Microsoft SQL Server (or SQL Server Express) 2008 or better.

First, we recommend you to create a separate database for the logs. You can create it from Event Log Explorer as described in Using Event Log Explorer to access database events or create it using SQL Server utilities (e.g. Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio).

Alternatively, you can create the database using the utility itself:
Just run it using CreateDB command. E.g. if you have SQL Server Express installed on your local machine, to create database Events on it, just run the utility as follows:

eldbx CREATEDB /DBSERVER:localhost\SqlExpress /DBNAME:Events

eldbx will try to connect SQLServer using your current Windows credential and create database Events using default parameters. You can check other database settings on eldbx documentation page. For database tuning, I recommend using SQL Server Management Studio to create or alter the database – it gives maximum flexibility in fine-tuning the database.

Now, let’s export local system log into SQL table SysEvents.

eldbx EXPORT /DBSERVER:localhost\SqlExpress /DBNAME:Events /TABLE:SysEvents /LOGNAME:System

To export system log from another computer (Host1) and append its events to SysEvents table, run this command:

eldbx EXPORT /DBSERVER:localhost\SqlExpress /DBNAME:Events /TABLE:SysEvents  /TXA:append /HOST:Host1 /LOGNAME:System

This command assumes that your current user have access to the system event log from Host1. If your permissions are not enough, you can explicitly specify user name and password to access the log. Just add 2 parameters to the previous command line:

eldbx EXPORT /DBSERVER:localhost\SqlExpress /DBNAME:Events /TABLE:SysEvents  /TXA:append /HOST:Host1 /LOGNAME:System /User:username /Password:password

Export specific events

You may want to export only specific events.

Let’s export the Application event log without Information and Warning events and add the System log without Information events.

First, we need to create an XML query. Since the syntax of XML query allows to join different logs, we can get all the required events in one query and export it at once (without using /TXA:append option).

  <Query Id="0">
    <Select Path="Application">*[System[(Level=1 or Level=2)]]</Select>
    <Select Path="System">*[System[(Level=1 or Level=2 or Level=3)]]</Select>

You can use Windows Event Viewer to create basic XML queries or edit them manually.

Save this query as a file (AppSys.xml).

Run eldbx as follows:

eldbx EXPORT /DBSERVER:localhost\SQLEXPRESS /DBNAME:Events /TABLE:SelectedEvents /QUERY:AppSys.xml

Database exporter will create SelectedEvents table, runs the query and copy all events that match query conditions to the table.

Let’s add Audit Failure Events from Security log on Host1 to this table:

Create XML query and save it as AF.xml

  <Query Id="0" Path="Security">
    <Select Path="Security">*[System[band(Keywords,4503599627370496)]]</Select>

Run eldbx as follows:

eldbx EXPORT /DBSERVER:localhost\SQLEXPRESS /DBNAME:Events /TABLE:SelectedEvents /QUERY:AF.xml /TXA:append /HOST:Host1 /User:username /Password: password

Now you can run Event Log Explorer, connect the database and open exported tables.