As a help desk professional, I'm sure you are always looking for new tools to add to your IT Pro toolbox. If you need to support Windows 7 and/or Windows Server 2008 or later, then the Troubleshooting Packs are a must-have. Troubleshooting packs are a collection of PowerShell scripts and assemblies designed to troubleshoot, diagnose and repair common system problems. Microsoft ships a number of troubleshooting packs, organized by product or category. You can find them under C:\Windows\Diagnostics\System. In this video, I show you what troubleshooting packs I have on a computer running Windows 7 Ultimate.

The primary way to invoke the troubleshooting pack is via the Control Panel. Click on Find and Fix problems under System and Security. Many of the troubleshooting packs require elevated privileges. Double clicking on any of the links launches the Troubleshooting Pack in a wizard mode. Answer the questions and the wizard will attempt to resolve the problem.

All troubleshooting sessions are saved as history. When you return to the Troubleshooting control panel, click on View History. Double-clicking an item will display the trouble shooting report again. This is helpful if you'd like to print off a copy for your records. However if you right-click and item, the context menu offers a few other options you might want to take advantage of such as saving the diagnostics files to a CAB file.

Another approach is to use Windows PowerShell and the TroubleshootingPack module. This module ships with two cmdlets, Get-TroubleShootingPack and Invoke-TroubleshootingPack. The former provides information about a troubleshooting pack as well as generating an answer file that you can use with Invoke-TroubleshootingPack. This cmdlet allows you to run a troubleshooting session from a command line. Using an answerfile, you can even make it completely unattended.

PS C:\Invoke-TroubleshootingPack c:\windows\diagnostics\system\audio

-AnswerFile C:\AudioDiag\audioanswer.xml 'Unattended

'result "c:\AudioDiag"

Even better, you can run the troubleshooting pack remotely via a PowerShell remote session. Some Troubleshooting Packs must be run interactively and not via a remote desktop session, and a PowerShell remote session gets around this limitation securely.

Troubleshooting Packs have the potential to be a major game changer when it comes to help desk and support. I encourage you to test out and walk through the Troubleshooting Packs. Build a library of answer files and configure PowerShell remoting on Windows 7 and later so that you can take advantage of command line automation and efficiency.

In my article, I explain in more detail how to use Windows 7 Troubleshooting Packs.