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Windows includes a number of distinct event logs, but how can you easily get them? Get-WinEvent can acquire old Windows event logs such as System and Application logs, Windows Event Log technology logs, and even Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) logs!
Learn how to use Get-WinEvent to get and filter events from event logs in this post!
Querying Windows Event Logs using PowerShell is related to Get-EventLog.
You’ll need need a recent version of Windows 10 and PowerShell 5.1 or above to follow along. Windows 10 and PowerShell 7.1 are used in this tutorial.
Get-WinEvent returns a list of available logs.
Without knowing all of the accessible logs, it’s difficult to tell what log entries you’ll need. The -ListLog argument in Get-WinEvent allows you to rapidly list all accessible logs. Get-WinEvent uses the * option to list all logs without filtering. All logs are obtained, but just a restricted set of attributes are shown using the Select-Object cmdlet, as seen below.
Select-Object LogName, RecordCount, IsClassicLog, IsEnabled, LogMode, LogType | Format-Table -AutoSize | Get-WinEvent -ListLog * | Format-Table -AutoSize
By default, not all logs are enabled. Before events appear, you may need to launch Event Viewer, identify the log, and right-click to Enable the log.
All accessible event logs are included.
After Windows Vista, all logs are saved as *.evtx files rather to the earlier *.evt format. The IsClassicLog attribute specifies whether the log events are specified in Message File (*.mc) or Manifest (*.xml) format.
The LogMode property is interesting, and you may have observed that it is normally set to Circular.
- Circular – When the oldest log entry is full, overwrite it.
- Keep all occurrences until the log is full, then cease logging until the log is released.
- AutoBackup — When event logs are full, backup and archive them automatically.
The LogMode property is highlighted.
Finally, there are numerous distinct sorts of logs based on the LogType attribute. This is more of a category feature, but it usually determines how the log is utilized and what sorts of events are shown.
- Administrative — Intended mostly for end-users and administrators.
- Analytical – A high-volume log that is used to explain program processes.
- Debug — For developers who want to go deep into the inner workings of a software.
- Operational – An occurrence that happens during normal operations and may be used to identify problems and activate activities.
The LogType attribute is highlighted.
Providers of Event Logs
It’s easier to comprehend what an Event Log Provider is now that you’ve learned about the various logs and their attributes. A source of an event is referred to as a provider in Event Log language.
Event log providers are distinct and related to each log, such as Application or System logs, and serve as the designated source of each event.
When filtering logs, you may want to look for problems specific to a single provider. Use the -ListProvider argument to see what providers are available. As seen below, the * provides all accessible providers as well as the logs to which they are tied, such as Windows PowerShell or System.
Format-Table -Autosize | Get-WinEvent -ListProvider *
Providers of Event Logs.
You could just wish to display providers accessible to a certain log, such as System. You might achieve this by using the Where-Object command and the LogLinks property values to filter events. The LogLinks property displays a list of related event logs.
Use the -In comparison operator to filter just those events with System in the LogLinks property value to filter the requested logs using Where-Object. Finally, as demonstrated below, using Format-Table -AutoSize makes viewing the output much simpler.
Where-Object ‘System’ -In ($ | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Loglinks | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Logname) | Format-Table -AutoSize) | Get-WinEvent -ListProvider *
Event log providers are filtered to a certain log.
Get-WinEvent retrieves classic event logs
The Application or System log, both of which are Classic Event Logs, is the first step in debugging a Windows issue. The -MaxEvents option of the Application event log is used in the example below to obtain the first 100 occurrences.
Select just the characteristics required to read the entries easier to make reading the results easier. Otherwise, the items are grouped by provider name, making it harder to parse the list of results.
Select-Object TimeCreated, ID, ProviderName, LevelDisplayName, Message | Format-Table -AutoSize | Get-WinEvent -LogName ‘Application’ -MaxEvents 100 | Format-Table -AutoSize
The application log events are returned.
With Get-WinEvent, you can find modern Windows events.
What about findings from a newer Windows Event Log, such as Microsoft-Windows-WindowsUpdateClient/Operational, now that you’ve collected events from the original Application log?
Unlike a traditional event log like System, Microsoft-Windows-WindowsUpdateClient/Operational is a contemporary log that uses Get-WinEvent in the same way as below.
Select-Object TimeCreated, ID, ProviderName, LevelDisplayName, Message | Format-Table -AutoSize ‘Microsoft-Windows-WindowsUpdateClient/Operational’ -MaxEvents 10 | Get-WinEvent -LogName ‘Microsoft-Windows-WindowsUpdateClient/Operational’ -MaxEvents
Returning entries from the Windows Event Log.
Why not simply obtain the most recent events? Although Sort-Object may be used to reverse the order of the results, the -Oldest argument can be used to obtain the first 10 events, as seen below.
Instead of providing all results and sorting, the Get-WinEvent command conducts the filtering for you. This is often faster.
Select-Object TimeCreated, ID, ProviderName, LevelDisplayName, Message | Format-Table -AutoSize -LogName ‘Microsoft-Windows-WindowsUpdateClient/Operational’ -Oldest -MaxEvents 10 | Get-WinEvent -LogName ‘Microsoft-Windows-WindowsUpdateClient/Operational’ -O
In a Windows Event Log, only the oldest events are returned.
Using Get-WinEvent to Retrieve Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) Files
Perhaps you’ve backed up an existing log or have an exported *.evtx file from another machine. The Get-WinEvent cmdlet may be used to read such logs. Get-WinEvent is a wonderful technique to rapidly query logs using regular cmdlets inside scripts if you need to retain logs for auditing reasons.
How to Use PowerShell to Track Important Windows Security Events
You’ll need an exported log file to show extracting log entries from a *.evtx file.
1. Go to an event log in the Event Viewer. The Application and Services Logs Windows PowerShell log is used in this example.
Go to a log in Windows Event Viewer.
2. In the Actions window, select the Save All Events As… menu option.
The log file should be saved.
3. Save the file to a disk area where the Get-WinEvent program can find it.
Choose a location to The log file should be saved.
Pass the log file location through the -Path argument to read the events now that you’ve exported a log file. The Windows PowerShell log is exported for later consumption in the example below.
Select-Object TimeCreated, ID, ProviderName, LevelDisplayName, Message | Format-Table -AutoSize -Path ‘C:ArticlesWindowsPowerShell.evtx’ -MaxEvents 10 | Get-WinEvent -Path ‘C:ArticlesWindowsPowerShell.evtx’ -Max
Specific events from the exported event file are retrieved.
Using Get-WinEvent to Filter Windows Event Logs
Although the ordinary Where-Object cmdlet may filter logs, Get-WinEvent has built-in filters. More effort is done than is required by returning all results and then filtering. Instead, you should aim to filter as much as possible at the source.
The Get-WinEvent cmdlet has three arguments named -FilterHashTable, -FilterXPath, and -FilterXML that enable you filter through thousands of events. Each parameter does the same objective in a slightly different manner.
Using FilterHashTable to Filter Event Logs
The -FilterHashTable argument filters material by matching characteristics like LogName. You may use a hash table instead of the -LogName option to filter by a particular log, such as @’LogName’ = ‘Application’, which corresponds to the LogName event attribute.
Get-WinEvent rapidly returns results by passing a hash table to the -FilterHashTable argument that searches for just the Application log and a start time that is all events past midnight of the current day.
Get-WinEvent -FilterHashTable @’LogName’ = ‘Application’; ‘StartTime’ = (Get-Date -Hour 0 -Minute 0 -Second 0)
The FilterHashTable option is used to filter events.
Compare the filtering times of the same command above with one filtered by Where-Object rather than the pipeline’s -FilterHashTable argument. As you can see, the Where-Object command is much slower than the -FilterHashTable command.
Filtering using FilterHashTable and Where-Object are compared.
Using the FilterXPath Parameter to Filter Event Logs
Because event log entries are kept as XML files, you may filter them using the XPath language, which is an XML querying language. You may get the same results by running the same command and converting it to XPath.
Use the Windows Event Viewer’s filtering feature to create an XPath query, as shown below.
1. Open the Event Viewer and go to the Windows Logs Application log, for example.
The Windows Event Viewer is launched.
2. In the right-hand window, click the Filter Current Log link.
Selecting a filter for the current log.
3. Fill in the parameters that will be used to filter the log.
For the current log, creating a filter.
4. Select the XML tab and copy the Select tag’s section.
The XPath command is being copied.
5. With the -FilterXPath argument, copy and paste the copied information. You can see below how you may design a query to filter just the information you need using the XPath syntax from the event log viewer.
Select-Object TimeCreated, ID, ProviderName, LevelDisplayName, Message | Format-Table -AutoSize Get-WinEvent -LogName ‘Application’ -FilterXPath “*[System[(Level=1 or Level=3)]]” | Format-Table -AutoSize
Showing how to utilize the FilterXPath option.
This page does not go into detail on how to write XPath queries, however the fundamental structure is illustrated below. When using the FilterXPath argument to filter a date, there is one significant difference: you must use a more precise date format, yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss.fffZ, and the date must be returned in UTC, as indicated by the -AsUTC option.
Get-WinEvent -LogName ‘Application’ -FilterXPath “*[System[TimeCreated[@SystemTime >= ‘$(Get-Date -Hour 0 -Minute 0 -Second 0 -Millisecond 0 -Format “yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss.fffZ” -AsUTC)’]]]” | Select-Object TimeCreated, ID, ProviderName, LevelDisplayName, Message | Format-Table -AutoSize
XPath is used to filter events.
Using FilterXML to Filter Event Log Results
The -FilterXML argument is the last filtering parameter available. This argument, unlike the -FilterXPath and -FilterHashTable parameters, accepts XML and uses it to filter the events. The -FilterXML argument enables for more complicated criteria, and may be used to duplicate the previous filtering examples, as seen below.
You may get a pre-formatted query using the Event Viewer’s Filter Current Log ability, as demonstrated in the preceding example. You’ll utilize the complete query instead of just the content in the Select node. The * in the Select node indicates that no real filters have been selected. This will serve as the foundation for the following example.
In the Event Viewer, choose the complete XML query from Filter Current Log.
Rather than generating a single-line command, first split the XML query and assign the markup to a variable, $Query, as shown below. Assigning the query to a variable improves readability and simplicity of usage. Then, supply the $Query variable to Get—FilterXML WinEvent’s argument.
The results of the more complicated query, which returns all occurrences from that day and stores them in the Application log, are displayed below.
$Query = “<QueryList> <Query Id=’0′ Path=’Application’> <Select Path=’Application’>*[System[TimeCreated[@SystemTime >= ‘$(Get-Date -Hour 0 -Minute 0 -Second 0 -Millisecond 0 -Format “yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss.fffZ” -AsUTC)’]]]</Select> </Query> </QueryList>” Get-WinEvent -FilterXML $Query | Select-Object TimeCreated, ID, ProviderName, LevelDisplayName, Message | Format-Table -AutoSize
FilterXML is shown in action.
With sophisticated filtering capabilities, the Get-WinEvent cmdlet makes searching numerous event log sources a breeze. The Get-WinEvent cmdlet is an essential addition to any System Administrator’s toolset, from auditing to problem-solving!
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