Whatever Happened to This Likely Lad?

So in August 2013 Jeff Dailey, the Director of Diagnostics at Microsoft Support was talking about Microsoft Fix-It Center Pro on Channel 9. He was really excited about it too, and who can blame him? It was really exciting stuff. Three months later, it was dead. I don’t know why. Like white dog poo, it’s a mystery. However, the automated diag packages remain, and are still being added to.

What’s the point?

If you’ve never used them, you’re really missing out. You may recall the old MPS report of some time ago, which gathered a huge amount of evidence from a machine and then just dumped it into a cab file. This was great, if you knew what to do with the data, but otherwise it was just 40MB of confusion. Some of it was obviously useful, like the event logs and cluster logs, some of it less so – do I care about symbols? No, not really. I’m shallow like that. There was the MPS report parser tool for the early implementations, which basically trawled through all the text files looking for the word “FAIL”, then later the MPS Report Viewer or you could use the old manual method.  But by and large, to get anything useful out of them, you had to have a pretty good idea what you were doing. Not any more. No longer do you have to know the meaning of:

00001df3.000016bd::2012/10/07-10:40:20.271 INFO  [GUM] Node 3: Processing GrantLock to 3 (sent by 2 gumid: 1249)


I exaggerate. Probably best if you know a little. These tools will sit on your poorly machine, run for a few minutes (maybe half an hour) and then tell you in short clear phrases *what is wrong*. Mostly. And if they don’t, hell , you’ve got all the evidence collected.


How to use them properly.

Go to the Support Diagnostics Website. It still retains the ghost of fix-it center pro in the title “ficp”. You will need to log in with your live id (a Hotmail account in other words).

Select the relevant package from the large number available – I lost count at fifty. I’m rather fond of the “Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2010 Diagnostic” but I’ll use the Windows performance Diagnostic for this post. Click on the diagnostic tool and give it a name.


You’ll need to download it and follow the instructions:


You may see references to “Microsoft Automated Troubleshooting Services” and “Microsoft Fix-it”. You’ll probably want to be an administrator to run it as well.1-4

Follow the steps as requested by the tool. It will ask if you want to install on the local machine or another machine, in which case it will create a portable diagnostic utility – more of this later. After a couple of minutes it will suggest you run a diagnostic tool to collect information from your computer. Do so. You can then wait up to an hour for the utility to do it’s thang.


Once it has finished, you’ll get the chance to check through the files it has collected and if necessary stop them being uploaded to Microsoft.1-5

Once you click “next” it will compress the files, and then give you a chance to save a copy of the cab file before uploading it to Microsoft.1-6

Click “send”, and then sit back and wait.1-7

If you go back to the Support Diagnostics page and click on the “recent sessions” tab, after a while (five minutes or so) you will see your upload has been received:1-8

But not yet analysed. This takes a couple of hours, usually, but keep checking back, and you’ll eventually see “completed”1-9

Click on the link, and see what the problem was:2-1

If you’re stuck, it gives you the option to “Get Assisted Support”. This will possibly (probably?) cost you money.

If you open the cab file you saved earlier (you did save it, didn’t you?) then you will see a whole heap of files. Some of them are clearly recognisable, some of them less so. The file you are after is called “resultReport.xml” – open this up in Internet Explorer, and bask in its troubleshooting goodness.2-2

Look at the things that is checking for! Networked PST files. Dodgy versions of SEP (SEP 1-SEP n, basically). Fantastic.

Click on the links for the issues that were found:2-3


And better yet, here’s where you get to make sense of the files it collected. Scroll down and expand detection details2-4

And then below that, there are links to all the evidence files you gathered:


But if you want, you don’t need to upload them:

Go to https://wc.ficp.support.microsoft.com/SelfHelp?knowledgebaseArticleFilter=

Open link for the directed report generator

Click run

“save this file”

“click run”

Accept agreement

Select “a different computer” and tick “this machine has powershell in it”, if applicable.

Read the instructions and follow steps 1-3. Do not follow step four yet.2-6

Save the tool to a local disk on the machine to be investigated, and run it (preferably as an administrator).


Accept the license agreement, and the following screen will appear briefly, and then disappear. Nothing will happen for 15 seconds or so.2-8

You will then be asked to run the tool:2-9

Click start. The tool will take about 10-15 minutes to run, in some instances.3-1

When it finishes, you’ll see the following:3-2

Click next, and select a location to save the file. This can be a network drive.3-3

When it finishes creating the cab file you will see the following screen:


Click “close” and browse to the location you saved the evidence. Extract the cab file and enjoy resultreport.xml. I know I will.

I hope this is useful to you. I love these tools, and think they’re much ignored, outside of Microsoft, anyway…


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