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Microsoft ULSViewer tool to read SharePoint log files


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Problem

SharePoint logs information to the Windows Event log and a file on the local drive which is normally located in the hive (C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\Logs). The log files on disk (trace logs) can be very hard to read using notepad or other basic programs.

Here's an example:

Timestamp Process TID Area Category EventID Level Message Correlation
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jfd Medium BackgroundTaskManager.ExecuteBackgroundTasks: Starting task SessionManager.PerformSessionTimeouts
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jfe Medium BackgroundTaskManager.ExecuteBackgroundTasks: Finished task SessionManager.PerformSessionTimeouts
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jfd Medium BackgroundTaskManager.ExecuteBackgroundTasks: Starting task RequestManager.RequestTimeoutCleanupPollInterval
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jfe Medium BackgroundTaskManager.ExecuteBackgroundTasks: Finished task RequestManager.RequestTimeoutCleanupPollInterval
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jfd Medium BackgroundTaskManager.ExecuteBackgroundTasks: Starting task Memory Manager.PerformCleanup
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jg2 Medium ResourceManager.PerformCleanup: Memory Manager: CurrentSize=104521728.
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jfe Medium BackgroundTaskManager.ExecuteBackgroundTasks: Finished task Memory Manager.PerformCleanup
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jfd Medium BackgroundTaskManager.ExecuteBackgroundTasks: Starting task ExcelServerApp.PerformThreadPoolProcess
05/25/2010 06:57:39.31 w3wp.exe (0x1018) 0x0BE4 Excel Services Excel Calculation Services 8jfe Medium BackgroundTaskManager.ExecuteBackgroundTasks: Finished task ExcelServerApp.PerformThreadPoolProcess
05/25/2010 06:57:40.34 VMwareService.exe (0x07CC) 0x07F0 SharePoint Portal Server SSO 0 Medium MSSCNTRS: In Collect(). Query=''.
05/25/2010 06:57:40.34 VMwareService.exe (0x07CC) 0x07F0 SharePoint Portal Server SSO 0 High MSSCNTRS: Cannot get perf statistics on library SSO.
05/25/2010 06:57:40.34 VMwareService.exe (0x07CC) 0x07F0 SharePoint Portal Server SSO 0 High Error code is: -21474181130
Solution

To solve this problem I recommend you check out this great tool from Microsoft, ULSViewer.

Summary direct from the Microsoft site:

"ULSViewer allows users to open a ULS log file and display its contents in a user friendly format. Users can then perform advanced functions such as filtering, sorting, highlighting, loading logs, appending logs, etc in order to single out the data that is important to the user. This information can be used to diagnose problems with machines running ULS services, or to monitor machines and the events they create in realtime."

The trace logs are often referred to ULS logs, Unified Logging Service.

A great tip is to make sure your logging is configured correctly before using the tool. I recommend Verbose for all categories - caveat: this can make very large log files, so ensure you rotate the files regularly, something like this:

You can access this page via SharePoint Central Administration -> Operations -> Diagnostics Logging (http://sharepointca/_admin/metrics.aspx)

Here are a few screen shots of the tool in action:

Microsoft ULSViewer viewing a trace log in realtime

Microsoft ULSViewer viewing a trace log in real time

Microsoft ULSViewer File Options

Microsoft ULSViewer File Options - Select ULS to and browse to the Logs directory in the Hive

 
Microsoft ULSViewer filter options

Microsoft ULSViewer filter options - get creative!

Please make sure you read the documentation and the warning from Microsoft stating the tool is unsupported.

Next Steps
  • Read the Microsoft documentation
  • Configure your ULS Trace logging via SharePoint Central Administration
  • Download and try ULSViewer


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