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If an installation of windows is unbootable, is it possible to access the event log from a Linux LiveCD?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It is possible if you are running Vista or newer. The event log data is now written to an XML file in %SystemRoot%\System32\winevt\Logs\.

Previous versions of Windows wrote the log in an undocumented binary format. This web page tries to describe that format.

GrokEVT which is mentioned on that page, is is a collection of scripts built for reading Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 event log files. GrokEVT is released under the GNU GPL, and is implemented in Python.

The default locations of the logs are:

  • %SystemRoot%\System32\Config\SysEvent.Evt (System Log)
  • %SystemRoot%\System32\Config\AppEvent.Evt (Application log)
  • %SystemRoot%\System32\Config\SecEvent.Evt (Security Log)
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Where is this XML file stored? – Macha Nov 29 '09 at 13:55
Windows 7/Vista XML event files stored in: %SystemRoot%\System32\winevt\Logs\ – Umber Ferrule Jun 30 '10 at 16:57

I have a situation where I have a pile of HDD that have been removed from various machines during upgrades. Not knowing what they came out of, accessing the system log in the location listed above, allowed me to access the domain name and user access of that drive.

%drive letter%:\Windows\System32\winevt\Logs

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This question was asked and answered in 2009 and you answered in 2016 after an answer was already accepted. – Eric F Apr 1 at 17:59
  1. Windows event logs are also files, but they are commonly locked by Windows (Event Log Service) and it is impossible to open these files on "live" system. But if the computer is started from another disk or the system drive from the analyzed machine is connected to another computer, you can read event logs as files. The default location of event logs on Vista/2008 and better is "C:\Windows\System32\winevt\Logs\".
  2. Try Event Log Explorer, it's free for personal use. It better than Event Viewer, e.g. it lets you read even damaged event files.
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Does this answer of yours really add something to the one that was accepted years ago already? – zagrimsan May 25 at 13:05

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