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System Monitor overview

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

System Monitor overview

With System Monitor, you can measure the performance of your own computer or other computers on a network in the following ways:

  • Collect and view the real-time performance data of a local computer or several remote computers: Usability has been modified in the Windows Server 2003 family. For example, you can delete multiple counters at once and display the data properties page for a counter directly from the list window. You can save selected data from a performance log file or an SQL database to a new file for analysis at a later time.

  • Also new in the Windows Server 2003 family are two new security groups that help you to ensure that only trusted users can access and manipulate sensitive performance data. These are the Performance Log Users group and the Performance Monitor Users group.

  • View data collected either currently or previously in a counter log. With the Windows Server 2003 family, you can now simultaneously view data from multiple log files.

  • Present data in a printable graph, histogram, or report view.

  • Incorporate System Monitor functionality into applications that support ActiveX controls, for example, Web pages, and Microsoft Word or other applications in Microsoft Office

  • Create HTML pages from performance views. Views stored in HTML format can be displayed by a browser.

  • Create reusable monitoring configurations that can be installed on other computers using Microsoft Management Console (MMC).

With System Monitor, you can collect and view extensive data about the usage of hardware resources and the activity of system services on computers you administer. You can define the data you want System Monitor to collect in the following ways:

  • Type of data. To select the data to be collected, you specify performance objects, performance counters, and performance object instances.

    Some objects provide data on system resources (such as memory); others provide data on the operation of applications (for example, system services).

  • Source of data. System Monitor can collect data from your local computer or from other computers on the network for which you have administrative credentials. By default, administrative credentials are required. In addition, you can include real-time data or data collected previously using counter logs. With the Windows Server 2003 family, you can now view performance data that was previously collected and stored in an SQL database by the Performance Logs and Alerts service.

  • Sampling parameters. System Monitor supports manual, on-demand sampling or automatic sampling based on a time interval you specify; this functionality applies to real-time data only. When viewing logged data, you can also choose starting and stopping times so that you can view data spanning a specific time range.

In addition to options for defining data content, you have considerable flexibility in designing the appearance of your System Monitor views:

  • Type of display. System Monitor supports graph, histogram, and report views. The graph view is the default view; it offers the widest variety of optional settings.

  • Display characteristics. For any of the three views, you can define the colors and fonts for the display. In graph and histogram views, you can select from many different options when you view performance data:

    • Provide a title for your graph or histogram and label the vertical axis.

    • Set the range of values depicted in your graph or histogram.

    • Adjust the characteristics of lines or bars plotted to indicate counter values, using color, width, style, and other graphical features.

For more information about the performance-monitoring process and interface, see Performance console overview and System Monitor interface.

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