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FileMon/RegMon Mashup

Microsoft's Process Monitor is the new, improved version for troubleshooting application processes.

Like ‘em or hate ‘em, the two Sysinternals’ tools FileMon and RegMon are often your only way to track down problems when troubleshooting applications and how those apps interact with the rest of your computer system.

For the uninitiated, these two tools monitor file and registry reads and writes and report on which application or process is doing the work. Their low-level reporting on your computer’s inner workings can produce massive quantities of data, but often are necessary in tracking down an incorrectly set permission or an overwritten registry key.

It’s that massive quantity of data, however, that makes difficult their learning curve. Adding to the difficulty is how they come as separate tools -- until now.

Microsoft’s freeware Process Monitor tool, which can be downloaded here, integrates the functionality of FileMon and RegMon into a unified debugger. Now, when you can’t be sure if the application giving you grief has a file problem or a registry problem, you can run your tests all from the same tool.

Process Monitor also adds a few new enhancements over our old friends. Whereas the old tools had filters that could filter out unnecessary data, they were difficult to use. The new tool allows for better manipulation of filters that preserve data. More data about each captured event, its associated process, and the process stack supporting it is captured. Processes can now be monitored at boot, enabling better troubleshooting of those hard-to-capture boot-time troubles.

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Now, none of these new features actually reduce that sheer amount of data coming in during a trace. But with the improved highlighting and filtering options, you can better narrow it down to just the info you need.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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