Solve IE8, IE9 problems with Internet Explorer 10 troubleshooting tool

Windows Internet Explorer Diagnostic Tool

Even by the standards of alpha browsers, Internet Explorer 10's Platform Preview is rather lacking in features. There's no toolbar, no sidebar, no security, no real configuration options, and it's little more than a window for browsing Microsoft's latest HTML5 demos.

Of course it's a brand new project, so that's no real surprise. If you look beyond the basics, it turns out that IE10 does have one very practical feature in its diagnostics tool, a handy stand-alone troubleshooting tool that you can use to diagnose IE 8 and IE9 issues on any Windows 7 PC.

To give the program a try, browse to your Platform Preview installation folder (\Program Files\Internet Explorer Platform Preview by default), and double-click "IEdiag.exe." Click the Data Collectors and Captures tabs to see the details that the program can assemble, checking each of the boxes for now, and click Begin.

Then click "Start Capture," launch IE 8 or IE9 and work through any steps to try and reproduce the problem you're seeing. When you've finished, switch back to the Capture window, click "Stop and save capture," and wait while IEDiag saves its report.

Once IEDiag displays the "Tool [Capture Manager] Finished]" message, click "Save Report As" and save this to a new folder somewhere. It'll appear as a CAB file, so use your archiving software to extract its contents. Then you can click "View saved report," and point the program at the IEDiag.xml file you've just revealed.

Analysis

By default the report will open in raw XML, which isn't too helpful, but this is easy to change. Just choose "Events" in the formatting box, click "Apply Format," and you'll see a collection of IE-related events, grabbed from the event log. If you're seeing the browser crash sometimes, then scroll through the list, looking for Application Error or AppCrash-related events. These will often specify a "faulting module" that tells you what's most likely to have caused the problem; if this is something you've installed, then uninstalling or updating it may fix the issue. (Don't just go deleting the file, though, as that's likely to make your situation even worse.)

Now choose "All Enabled and Disabled Add-Ons" in the formatting list, and click "Apply Format." This will show you a table of all the IE add-ons installed on your system. If you recognize any module names here as causing crashes, then disabling them may help (Tools > Manage Add-ons in IE, choose the add-on, click Disable).

Alternatively, you can just keep the add-on report from a time when IE is working, and if you run into problems, compare it with another report later to see what's changed. (Right-click a report page and select "Print" if you'd like to save it for posterity.)

Next, select "Files" in the formatting box, and click "Apply Format." This displays all the files relating to your copy of IE 8 or IE9, including their version details, very useful if your installation has been corrupted (compare your setup against a working copy of IE elsewhere to highlight any differences).

Or finally, choose Zone View and click "Apply Format" to see all your current IE security settings, for each of its zones. This won't always mean a lot in itself, but once again, if you're having problems on one IE setup then this provides an easy way to compare its settings with another installation, and look for any variations that might stand out.

There's a lot to like about IEDiag, then, but the best part is that Platform Preview 10 doesn't have to be installed to get it to work. As long as you copy both IEDiag.exe and IEDiag.dll to a folder on a target Windows 7 PC, then you should be able to run it there, and troubleshoot whatever problems they might be having with their own Internet Explorer installation.

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