Archive The Windows Security Event Log

By James|01/30/2017|,


In a security conscious environment, it may be necessary or mandated to archive the Windows security event log.  By default the security log is configured to overwrite events as needed.  Here is a screenshot of typical security event log settings:

Event Log Settings

To check or modify your security event log settings, launch Event Viewer.  Expand Windows Logs then click Security.  Right click on the Security log and select Properties.  The first thing you may want to change would be the "Maximum log size (KB)".  Beyond that, decide upon your retention policy.  Here are the options:

  • Overwrite events as needed (oldest events first) - This is the default setting.  Once the maximum log size is reached, older items will be deleted to make way for new items.
  • Archive the log when full, do not overwrite events - If you select this option, Windows will automatically save the log when the maximum log size is reached and create a new one.  The log will be archived to wherever the security log is being stored.  By default, this will be %SystemRoot%\System32\Winevt\Logs.  You can look at the properties of the log in Event Viewer to determine the exact location.
  • Do not overwrite events (Clear logs manually) - If you select this option and the event log reaches the maximum size, no further events will be written until the log is manually cleared.

Automatic Archiving

The following PowerShell script will check the size of the security event log and archive it if necessary.  The steps performed by the script are as follows:

  • If the security event log is under 250 MB, an informational event is written to the Application event log
  • If the log is over 250 MB
    • The log is archived to D:\Logs\OS
    • If the archive operation fails, an error event is written to the Application event log and an e-mail is sent
    • If the archive operation succeeds, an informational event is written to the Application event log and an e-mail is sent
# Title:   MonitorSecurityLog.ps1
# Version: 1.0.0, 18JAN17
# Author:  James Sanders
# Purpose: Monitor the security log and automatically archive and clear the log if it's over 250 MB in size.

# Set the archive location
$ArchiveFolder = "D:\Logs\OS"

# How big can the security event log get in MB before we automatically archive?
$ArchiveSize = 250

# Verify the archive folder exists
If (!(Test-Path $ArchiveFolder)) {
  Write-Host "Archive folder $ArchiveFolder does not exist, aborting ..." -ForegroundColor Red

# Configure environment
$sysName        = $env:computername
$eventName      = "Security Event Log Monitoring"
$mailMsgServer  = ""
$mailMsgSubject = "$sysName Security Event Log Monitoring"
$mailMsgFrom    = "[email protected]"
$mailMsgTo      = "[email protected]"

# Add event source to application log if necessary 
If (-NOT ([System.Diagnostics.EventLog]::SourceExists($eventName))) { 
  New-EventLog -LogName Application -Source $eventName

# Check the security log
$Log = Get-WmiObject Win32_NTEventLogFile -Filter "logfilename = 'security'"
$SizeCurrentMB = [math]::Round($Log.FileSize / 1024 / 1024,2)
$SizeMaximumMB = [math]::Round($Log.MaxFileSize / 1024 / 1024,2)

# Archive the security log if over the limit
If ($SizeCurrentMB -gt $ArchiveSize) {
  $ArchiveFile = $ArchiveFolder + "\Security-" + (Get-Date -Format "yyyy-MM-dd@HHmm") + ".evt"
  $EventMessage = "The security event log size is currently " + $SizeCurrentMB + " MB.  The maximum allowable size is " + $SizeMaximumMB + " MB.  The security event log size has exceeded the threshold of $ArchiveSize MB."
  $Results = ($Log.BackupEventlog($ArchiveFile)).ReturnValue
  If ($Results -eq 0) {
    # Successful backup of security event log
    $Results = ($Log.ClearEventlog()).ReturnValue
    $EventMessage += "The security event log was successfully archived to $ArchiveFile and cleared."
    Write-Host $EventMessage
    Write-EventLog -LogName Application -Source $eventName -EventId 11 -EntryType Information -Message $eventMessage -Category 0
    $mailMsgBody = $EventMessage
    Send-MailMessage -From $mailMsgFrom -to $MailMsgTo -subject $mailMsgSubject -Body $mailMsgBody -SmtpServer $mailMsgServer
  Else {
    $EventMessage += "The security event log could not be archived to $ArchiveFile and was not cleared.  Review and resolve security event log issues on $sysName ASAP!"
    Write-Host $EventMessage
    Write-EventLog -LogName Application -Source $eventName -EventId 11 -EntryType Error -Message $eventMessage -Category 0
    $mailMsgBody = $EventMessage
    Send-MailMessage -From $mailMsgFrom -to $MailMsgTo -subject $mailMsgSubject -Body $mailMsgBody -SmtpServer $mailMsgServer
Else {
  # Write an informational event to the application event log
  $EventMessage = "The security event log size is currently " + $SizeCurrentMB + " MB.  The maximum allowable size is " + $SizeMaximumMB + " MB.  The security event log size is below the threshold of $ArchiveSize MB so no action was taken."
  Write-Host $EventMessage
  Write-EventLog -LogName Application -Source $eventName -EventId 11 -EntryType Information -Message $eventMessage -Category 0
# Close the log

Before using the script in your environment, configure the following variables:

  • $ArchiveSize - Set to desired log size limit (MB)
  • $ArchiveFolder - Set to an existing path where you want the log file archives to go
  • $mailMsgServer - Set to a valid SMTP server
  • $mailMsgFrom - Set to a valid FROM e-mail address
  • $MailMsgTo - Set to a valid TO e-mail address

You can save the following to an XML file and then import it into Task Scheduler.  Change the <Arguments> section to the folder/file name where you saved the script.  This XML file sets the script to run every hour.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-16"?>
<Task version="1.3" xmlns="">
    <Description>Monitor security event log.  Archive and clear log if threshold is met.</Description>
    <Principal id="Author">
  <Actions Context="Author">


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