Whenever I have to troubleshoot a Cognos Server issue, I always find myself wanting or asking for permission to add some software to make it easier for me to do root cause analysis. So if you’re setting up a Cognos server on Windows, you should consider adding the following software to make your life easier when problems arise.
This post is a subset of my post on my favorite Windows software, but it applies specifically for troubleshooting problems on Cognos servers (and probably other types of servers too).
Built-In Software / Microsoft Software
- Event Viewer – It’s always handy to check the Application and System events for errors that might be related to a Cognos problem.
- Task Manager – Use this to identify processes that are creating CPU, Memory and Disk I/O bottlenecks.
- Steps Recorder – While far from perfect, Steps Recorder is a handy tool that will create an HTML archive file of screenshots to document the steps you took to reproduce a problem. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it can be very useful.
- Process Monitor / Process Explorer – Microsoft’s Sysinternals tools Process Monitor and Process Explorer are incredibly useful for checking what files are being locked by the system, or if Cognos is able to find a file it’s looking for.
- Cmder – Yes, if you like the built-in DOS prompt or Powershell, you can use that instead, but I like Cmder because it is more UNIX-like. When checking logs, you can you use the head or tail command natively. You can also use tools like curl to verify if http requests are being responded to, etc.
- PilotEdit Lite – If you have a huge log file that you want to look at (after looking at them with head or tail), most editors are going to choke on a large file. PilotEdit Lite (you can pay for more powerful versions of this software) is handy for opening up very large log files for reading.
- Winmerge – If you are trying to compare multiple copies of a text file, like a config file, then this is a fantastic tool.
- Atom – While Notepad++ is the go-to text editor for a lot of people, I actually prefer Atom. It’s a lot more flexible and easier to use. The main drawback is that it has a much larger disk footprint than Notepad++, but when you’re trying to analyze a whole bunch of files at once, I find that Atom is a much more stress-free experience. Other viable tools are Visual Studio Code and Sublime Edit.
- Chrome – This is an opinionated choice, but I feel every server needs a copy of Chrome installed. It is now the most-used browser, but it also has good debugging tools. I use Chrome’s Inspector to check that remote API requests to the Cognos server are coming back in a reasonable amount of time and to check for errors related to web server configuration.
- DBVisualizer (Free version) – A multi-platform database query tool is always handy if you’re trying to see if a database is having problems.
- Greenshot – If you need to take a lot of screenshots and send them to Cognos support, Greenshot is very handy because it can save some additional steps of having to paste shots into Paint, etc prior to saving.
- Windirstat – Sometimes problems are related to drive space. Windirstat is helpful for assessing what files are taking up the most space on your hard drives.
- 7zip – While Windows has ZIP file support built in, it’s clunky at its best. 7zip is very handy for expanding things like JAR files.
- Keepass – If you have trouble remembering the various passwords you need to administer your server, Keepass is a good secure password manager to use.
Web Sites / Other
- VirusTotal – VirusTotal lets you upload a file to check it for viruses against several antivirus software engines.
- Let’s Encrypt – If you need SSL certificates for your Cognos installation, Let’s Encrypt offers free certs.