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12/26/2009
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Working With The Win7 Problem Steps Recorder

Windows 7 includes a new remote support tool that is potentially very useful -- if you know about it.

Windows 7 includes a new remote support tool that is potentially very useful -- if you know about it.The Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder is a fairly low-profile bit of software; if you haven't seen an online review that talks about it (and those were far more common earlier this year), then it is easy to miss.

Here is how a recent bMighty article summarizes PSR: If a user experiences a problem, instead of trying to remember what caused it and all the various error messages generated, they can turn on the Recorder and then repeat the process caused the problem. The Recorder automatically captures what the user clicks and grabs screens at every stage so it's easy to see exactly what happened. Then, it packages it all up in an Zip file of an XML page that can be sent to IT folks to examine and diagnose the problem. You can view the report as a long page or as a slideshow, or look at the XML source to see detail down to mouse co-ordinates. If you're looking for a more comprehensive walk-through that explains just how to use PSR, I suggest starting here. It's a very simple tool -- once you know to find it by entering PSR.EXE into the Win 7 Search box -- but it always helps to have an illustrated guide for less tech-savvy users.

There are also two drawbacks to keep in mind when you consider using PSR:

- Recording the steps that lead up to an error requires a user to remember and then reproduce those steps. In some cases, that's easy to do; in many others, a user may have no idea what they were doing to prompt an error message.

- Obviously, if an error results in a BSOD or system crash, reproducing the error for PSR can be problematic, to say the least.

Don't Miss: NEW! Remote Access How-To Center

The Problem Steps Recorder won't replace more advanced remote support and assistance tools, which include features ranging from remote desktop sharing to the ability to reboot a remote PC. But for basic, quick-and-dirty desktop troubleshooting tasks, PSR is clearly a great new option for Windows 7 users.

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