Log Management

In any computing environment logs are generated, and log management is generally necessary to extract any kind of useful information from those logs. In general computers will log events such as errors, privileged system accesses, and authentication successes and failures to a log file.

In most cases, a computer will store information in several different kinds of logs. There are sometimes logs for each application or a log category, such as a system log or syslog, that different types of information are fed into. Through careful use of log management software and practices these logs can be used to troubleshoot problems or determine where improvements can be made.

One major aspect of log management is log analysis, the process of scanning through a log and bringing to your attention major log events that may get lost in the jumble of common events or looking for patterns in logs. IIS logs in particular are good candidates for log analysis due to the large number of accesses an IIS server will get during any given day.

Log management also includes backing up and storing logs for later retrieval. Log files can get very large quite quickly and are therefore pruned by applications and the operating system at regular intervals. Unfortunately, you may need data from a log that was pruned yesterday. Without good log management software that information could be permanently lost.

By understanding where your computers store their log files, how to access them, and what kind of information is available in each of the logs you can drastically reduce the time spent troubleshooting a problem. In most cases if something fails there will be a log of it somewhere in the computer and the error message in that log could point you directly to the cause of the problem, or at the very least narrow down the problem to a few possibilities.

By making good use of log management, you can cut down the amount of time spent maintaining and analyzing your log files, which means you can make better use of the information in them when you need to access it.

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