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Fixing "Event Viewer cannot open the event log" When Viewing System Logs

As any geek knows, one of the first things that you do when troubleshooting a Windows problem is look into Event Viewer’s Application or System logs, which typically are rich with information on what the problem is. But what if the event log itself is corrupted?

I came across this exact situation the other day, where I was getting the error “Event Viewer cannot open the event log or custom view. Verify that Event Log service is running. The data is invalid (13)”… but the error only happened when trying to open the System log, while the Application log was working just fine, and restarting Event Log or rebooting didn’t help.

What you can do in this situation is clear the system log, saving it to a file in the process. This will usually “reset” the log so that future events will be viewable.

Clearing the System Log

Here’s an example of the error message that I’ve been getting:

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You can right-click on any of the logs and choose “Clear Log” from the menu.

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You’ll want to choose “Save and Clear” when prompted just in case you need to access those events.

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Give the logfile a useful name, and then click the Save button to continue. Note that you probably won’t be able to open the log with Event Viewer, but you could open it in a text editor and try and find some information in it.

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Now that I’ve cleared the log, you can see that I’m able to view the events in the System log again.

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Extra Note: The problem I was encountering ended up being because I had 9 USB devices plugged into a machine with a very pathetic power supply. Moving the devices onto a Powered USB hub fixed the problem, and I’ve since upgraded the power supply.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/16/08

Comments (16)

  1. Gale Williams

    This was very helpful, as is all your advice. At the risk of sounding stupid, can you tell me what a “powered USB hub” is, how to hook it up, and perhaps include a screenshot so I can see what I’m looking for at the computer store?
    Thank you very much!

  2. Ola

    But what if you can’t even get Event Log service to start? All I am getting is that and Task Scheduler service is not available. I have searched and searched, and I am at my wit’s end. By the way, yours is one of my permanent weekly sites. Thanks

  3. Ron

    Actually you can often simply keep the cursor on the log name and press the F5 key and it will typically open it. Microsoft has a KB article about it being corrupt but I’ve found the F5 refresh key often will allow it to open correctly. Reboots, restart of Event Viewer as you say doesn’t fix it.

  4. Cris

    Thanks very much! It works perfect now .

  5. Fred

    o.k. went to clear the log and got “event viewer could not clear the log.the following error occurred:overlapped I/O operation is in progress.” any suggestions?

  6. Cody

    Thanks. it worked.

  7. Marco

    Thanks!

  8. shelley

    OMG I could kiss you!!! What a lifesaver!!! I had given up hope on this problem, but now everything is working great. Thanks again!!!

  9. eDB

    Great work here!But like Ola, what if you can’t find tthe system log…. what do should bbe done?

  10. MoVBNet

    Just an FYI, the event log service is called Windows Event Log

  11. Braskeees

    what were you using 9 USB’s for? ReadyBoost?

  12. Braskeees

    ps great site

  13. Andy

    I followed your steps to save and clear the event logs but after saving get the follow error message:
    Event Viewer could not clear the log.The following error has occurred: The parameter is incorrect

    Any advice please?

  14. Ducoci

    Nice and simple! Cool blog.

  15. Mike

    @Fred
    For the error message:

    Event Viewer could not clear the log. The following error occurred: Overlapped I/O operation is in progress.

    You should right-click the log and select “Save Events As…”, then tell it to “Clear Log…” and when it asks tell it “Clear” NOT “Save and Clear”.

    Hope this helps,
    Mike

  16. ALO

    Thanks, your website is one my help references.

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