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Article ID: 927521 - Last Review: March 15, 2007 - Revision: 1.7

Support for Windows Vista without any service packs installed ended on April 13, 2010. To continue receiving security updates for Windows, make sure you're running Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 (SP2). For more information, refer to this Microsoft web page: Support is ending for some versions of Windows (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/help/end-support-windows-xp-sp2-windows-vista-without-service-packs)

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INTRODUCTION

Windows setup log files are in different locations on the hard disk. These locations depend on the setup phase. This article describes where to locate these log files and which log files are most useful for troubleshooting each setup phase of Windows 7, of Windows Server 2008 R2, and of Windows Vista.

MORE INFORMATION

Downlevel phase

The downlevel phase is the Windows setup phase that is run within the previous operating system. The following table lists important log files in this setup phase.
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Log fileDescription
C:\WINDOWS\setupapi.logContains information about device changes, driver changes, and major system changes, such as service pack installations and hotfix installations.

Note This log file is used only by Microsoft Windows XP and earlier versions.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setupact.log Contains information about setup actions during the installation.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setuperr.log Contains information about setup errors during the installation.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\miglog.xml Contains information about the user directory structure. This information includes security identifiers (SIDs).
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\PreGatherPnPList.logContains information about the initial capture of devices that are on the system during the downlevel phase.

Windows Preinstallation Environment phase

The Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE or WinPE) phase is the Windows setup phase that occurs after the restart at the end of the downlevel phase, or when you start the computer by using the Windows installation media. The following table lists important log files in this setup phase.
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Log fileDescription
X:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setupact.log Contains information about setup actions during the installation.
X:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setuperr.log Contains information about setup errors during the installation.
X:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\miglog.xml Contains information about the user directory structure. This information includes security identifiers (SIDs).
X:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\PreGatherPnPList.logContains information about the initial capture of devices that are on the system during the downlevel phase.
or
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setupact.log Contains information about setup actions during the installation.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setuperr.log Contains information about setup errors during the installation.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\miglog.xml Contains information about the user directory structure. This information includes security identifiers (SIDs).
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\PreGatherPnPList.logContains information about the initial capture of devices that are on the system during the downlevel phase.
Note You may also see a log file in the X:\WINDOWS directory. The Setupact.log file in this directory contains information about the progress of the initial options that are selected on the Windows installation screen. The Windows installation screen appears when you start the computer by using the Windows installation media. After you click Install now from the Windows installation screen, the Setup.exe file starts, and this log file is no longer used.

Online configuration phase

The online configuration phase (the first boot phase) starts when you receive the following message:
Please wait a moment while Windows prepares to start for the first time.
During this phase, basic hardware support is installed. If this is an upgrade installation, data and programs are also migrated. The following table lists important log files in this setup phase.
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Log fileDescription
C:\WINDOWS\PANTHER\setupact.logContains information about setup actions during the installation.
C:\WINDOWS\PANTHER\setuperr.logContains information about setup errors during the installation.
C:\WINDOWS\PANTHER\miglog.xmlContains information about the user directory structure. This information includes security identifiers (SIDs).
C:\WINDOWS\INF\setupapi.dev.logContains information about Plug and Play devices and driver installation.
C:\WINDOWS\INF\setupapi.app.logContains information about application installation.
C:\WINDOWS\Panther\PostGatherPnPList.logContains information about the capture of devices that are on the system after the online configuration phase.
C:\WINDOWS\Panther\PreGatherPnPList.logContains information about the initial capture of devices that are on the system during the downlevel phase.

Windows Welcome phase

The Windows Welcome phase includes the following options and events:
  • It provides the options to create user accounts.
  • It provides the option to specify a name for the computer.
  • The Windows System Assessment Tool (Winsat.exe) finishes performance testing to determine the Windows Experience Index rating.
The Windows Welcome phase is the final setup phase before a user logs in. The following table lists important log files in this setup phase.
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Log fileDescription
C:\WINDOWS\PANTHER\setupact.logContains information about setup actions during the installation.
C:\WINDOWS\PANTHER\setuperr.logContains information about setup errors during the installation.
C:\WINDOWS\PANTHER\miglog.xmlContains information about the user directory structure. This information includes security identifiers (SIDs).
C:\WINDOWS\INF\setupapi.dev.logContains information about Plug and Play devices and driver installation.
C:\WINDOWS\INF\setupapi.app.logContains information about application installation.
C:\WINDOWS\Panther\PostGatherPnPList.logContains information about the capture of devices that are on the system after the online configuration phase.
C:\WINDOWS\Panther\PreGatherPnPList.logContains information about the initial capture of devices that are on the system during the downlevel phase.
C:\WINDOWS\Performance\Winsat\winsat.logContains information about the Windows System Assessment Tool performance testing results.

Rollback phase

If a Windows upgrade installation fails, and you have successfully rolled back the installation to the previous operating system desktop, there are several log files that you can use for troubleshooting. The following table lists important log files in this phase.
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Log fileDescription
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setupact.log Contains information about setup actions during the installation.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\miglog.xml Contains information about the user directory structure. This information includes security identifiers (SIDs).
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setupapi\setupapi.dev.logContains information about Plug and Play devices and driver installation.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setupapi\setupapi.app.logContains information about application installation.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\PreGatherPnPList.logContains information about the initial capture of devices that are on the system during the downlevel phase.
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\PostGatherPnPList.logContains information about the capture of devices that are on the system after the online configuration phase.

APPLIES TO
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows Vista Business 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Enterprise 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit Edition
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Home Basic
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Starter
  • Windows 7 Ultimate
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
  • Windows Web Server 2008 R2
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