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Using Log Parser 2.2

by Mitch Tulloch

Log Parser is one cool tool. Created by Gabriele Giuseppini, a software engineer at Microsoft, the original Log Parser 1.0 was developed for Microsoft's internal testing purposes. It proved so popular that a public version, Log Parser 2.0, was released in 2001, and it has gone through two iterations, the current version being 2.2 and available from the Microsoft Download Center.

Log Parser operates as a kind of data pipeline. Into this pipe you can send information from IIS logs, Windows Event logs, Active Directory information, file system data, Registry data, Network Monitor traces, and so on. Once the data is in the pipe, you can process it using SQL statements; for example, to select certain portions of the data by a SELECT query. Then, as the processed data comes out of the pipeline, you can output it to text files, HTML files, Excel-style charts, or a SQL database table, or simply to the console as raw output. Putting these into proper syntax, a typical Log Parser command looks something like this:

logparser -i:<Input_Format> -o:<Output_format> <SQL_statement>

Things can get a bit more complicated, but that's the basic idea.

Of course, the best way to learn about Log Parser is to actually use it, so let's see what we can do, using the Windows Event logs as a data source. After installing Log Parser, open a command prompt and change to the C:\Program Files\Log Parser directory, where the logparser.exe executable resides. Let's begin with a simple query to select all records from the System log:

logparser "SELECT * FROM System" -i:EVT

Since there's no output format specified, Log Parser writes the output to the console. The result is a series of messy-looking records like this:

System   2096   2005-06-17 05:01:14   2005-06-17 05:01:14   7035
   4   Information event   0   None   Service Control Manager
   Fax|stop   BOX15   S-1-5-18   The Fax service was successfully 
   sent a stop control.

This event, for example, is an event of type Information that has an event ID of 7035 and an event source of Service Control Manager. Log Parser will display these events ten at a time, prompting you for a keystroke to continue or Ctrl-C to abort.

Let's focus in on events of type Error, as these are likely to be of some importance to us:

logparser "SELECT * FROM System WHERE EventTypeName='Error event'" -i:EVT

We still get messy-looking results, but now they're all Error events:

System   975   2005-05-10 16:40:09   2005-05-10 16:40:09   
  10010   1   Error event   0   None   DCOM   
  {601AC3DC-786A-4EB0-BF40-EE3521E70BFB}   BOX15   
  The server {601AC3DC-786A-4EB0-BF40-EE3521E70BFB} 
  did not register with DCOM within the required 

What kinds of Error events are we getting in our machine's System log? Let's output only the event sources this time:

logparser "SELECT SourceName FROM System WHERE 
    EventTypeName='Error event'" -i:EVT

The screen output now looks like this:

Service Control Manager
Service Control Manager
Service Control Manager
Service Control Manager
Service Control Manager
Service Control Manager
Service Control Manager
Press a key...

What are the different kinds of Error events in our System log, and how many of each source type were recorded? Log Parser can easily tell us this:

logparser "SELECT SourceName, COUNT(*) FROM System WHERE 
    EventTypeName='Error event' GROUP BY SourceName" -i:EVT

And here's what we get:

SourceName              COUNT(ALL *)
----------------------- ------------
DCOM                    5
Service Control Manager 43
W32Time                 8
NETLOGON                3
Microsoft Log Parser Toolkit

Related Reading

Microsoft Log Parser Toolkit
By Gabriele Giuseppini, Mark Burnett

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NETLOGON errors may be important, so let's key in on those and display the event IDs for these events plus the date and time they were generated (sorted in descending order):

logparser "SELECT TimeGenerated,EventID FROM System WHERE 
    EventTypeName='Error event' AND SourceName='NETLOGON' ORDER BY 
	TimeGenerated DESC" -i:EVT

The output now looks like this:

TimeGenerated       EventID
------------------- -------
2005-06-18 16:44:00 5719
2005-06-18 16:39:19 5719
2005-05-19 08:12:33 5719

What's the description for an event that has event ID 5719? Let's use Log Parser to find out:

logparser "SELECT EventID,Message FROM System WHERE EventID=5719" -i:EVT

This gives us:

5719   No Domain Controller is available for domain MTIT 
  due to the following: There are currently no logon servers 
  available to service the logon request. Make sure that the 
  computer is connected to the network and try again. If the 
  problem persists, please contact your domain administrator.

Uh-oh, could be a problem. Was the network down? Did the domain controller go offline? We need to investigate this further, but if you want a good source of help for understanding events like this, search for information on events with this event ID.

Additional Resources

This brief look at Log Parser only scratches the surface of what it can do. How can you learn how to do more with this tool?

First, you obviously need a good knowledge of SQL syntax to construct SELECT statements. A good resource for learning the basics is SQL Tutorial from FirstSQL.

Next, check out this Professor Windows article on Microsoft's web site, which gives you an excellent bird's-eye view of what Log Parser can do.

After that, you can familiarize yourself with the syntax of Log Parser by typing logparser -h and viewing the Help information displayed.

Once you've started to rock and roll with Log Parser, check out The Unofficial Log Parser Support Site, where you can find tons of resources and a thriving online community that can answer any questions you might have about using the tool.

Finally, pick up a copy of the Microsoft Log Parser Toolkit (Syngress) and kick your learning into high gear. You'll soon be an expert and wonder how you ever managed your Windows systems before Log Parser came around.

Mitch Tulloch is the author of Windows 2000 Administration in a Nutshell, Windows Server 2003 in a Nutshell, and Windows Server Hacks.

Microsoft Log Parser Toolkit

Related Reading

Microsoft Log Parser Toolkit
By Gabriele Giuseppini, Mark Burnett

Read Online--Safari
Search this book on Safari:

Code Fragments only

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