Tail is a helpful Linux utility and Windows also has a tail option, but you have to download it.  It’s part of the “Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools” from Microsoft.  As of this posting I don’t think there is a resource kit for Server 2008 that’s been released but I bet this version works on 08 as well.  There are other tail versions on the net for Windows but I’d stick with what M$ provides in the resource kit, it’s simple and just works!

This small helpful utility allows you to watch log files as they populate or fill up in a command prompt.  Download it –> Here or you can download the resource kit previously mentioned where the file is also contained.

What you should do is copy tail.exe to your “%systemroot%\system32”, on my machine it’s “C:\Windows\System32 but depending on how Windows was installed yours might be different.  Click Start > Run > copy that %system…line in quotes into the run dialog then click OK, then copy your tail.exe into that folder.

by default many Windows log files are kept in a subdirectory in your System32 folder, particularly the firewall log on a Windows XP systems ( “%windir%\System32\LogFiles”).  I’d poke around and see what you see.  Lets next open a command prompt, Start > Run > CMD.

Lets try the firewall.log file!


tail -f  “%windir%\pfirewall.log”

Your firewall log file might be in a different location so be sure to find it and change where tail is looking, if it’s wrong tail won’t work until it can read a file that exists.  Depending on what your firewall is logging you should see your screen light up with activity.  This can be particularly helpful for troubleshooting potential firewall problems, or maybe you’re running IIS servers or other servers that log to readable text based files.  If so tail is for you!

Lastly – from the command line you can type “tail /?” for options, there aren’t many but you might want to display only the last 50 lines of the log in your screen.  For this we’d type:

tail -n 50 -f “c:\whateverfolders\morefolders\yourlogfile.log”

50 lines are easier to follow than the default 10 lines.