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Performance Monitoring Getting Started Guide

Updated: September 20, 2012

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Performance Monitor is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that combines the functionality of previous stand-alone tools including Performance Logs and Alerts, Server Performance Advisor, and System Monitor. It provides a graphical interface for customizing Data Collector Sets and Event Trace Sessions.

What is performance monitoring?

In general terms, performance is the measure of how quickly a computer completes application and system tasks. Overall system performance might be limited by the access speed of the physical hard disks, the amount of memory available to all running processes, the top speed of the processor, or the maximum throughput of the network interfaces.

After identifying hardware performance limitations, IT professionals can monitor individual applications and processes to assess how much of the available resources they use. IT professionals can use a comprehensive analysis of performance of both application impact and overall capacity to help plan for deployment and grow system capacity with increasing demands.

Windows Performance Monitor enables you to track the performance impact of applications and services, and to generate alerts or take action when user-defined thresholds for optimum performance are exceeded.

Key features in performance monitoring

Key features for monitoring performance in Windows Server® 2008 R2 and Windows® 7 include the following.

Data Collector Sets

An important component of Windows Performance Monitor is the Data Collector Set, which is an XML object that groups data collectors into reusable elements for use with different performance monitoring scenarios. Once a group of data collectors is stored as a Data Collector Set, operations such as scheduling can be applied to the entire set through a single property change. You can schedule repeated collection of a Data Collector Set to create logs, load it in Performance Monitor to see the data in real time, and save it as a template to use on other computers.

Windows Performance Monitor also includes default Data Collector Set templates to help you begin collecting performance data immediately.

Wizards and templates for creating logs

You can also add counters to log files and schedule the start, stop, and duration of collection through a wizard interface. In addition, if you save this configuration as a template, you can collect the same log on subsequent computers without repeating the data collector selection and scheduling processes. Performance Logs and Alerts features have been incorporated into the Windows Performance Monitor for use with any Data Collector Set.

Unified property configuration for all data collection, including scheduling

Whether you create a Data Collector Set for one-time use or to log activity on an ongoing basis, the interface for creation, scheduling, and modification is the same. If a Data Collector Set proves to be useful for future performance monitoring, you do not need to recreate it. You can reconfigure or copy it as a template.

User-friendly diagnosis reports

Users of Server Performance Advisor in Windows Server 2003 can find the same kinds of diagnosis reports in Windows Performance Monitor. You can generate reports more quickly and can generate reports from data collected using any Data Collector Set. This allows you to repeat reports and assess how recommended changes have affected performance or modified the report recommendations. Windows Performance Monitor also includes preconfigured performance and diagnosis reports for quick analysis and troubleshooting.

Who should use Windows Performance Monitor

This guide is intended for the following audiences:

  • IT planners and analysts who are evaluating the product.

  • Enterprise IT planners and designers.

  • Early product adopters.

Benefits of Windows Performance Monitor

The most significant advantage of Windows Performance Monitor over previous individual tools like System Monitor, Performance Logs and Alerts, and Server Performance Advisor is that it combines the functionality of those tools into a single interface with common methods for defining the data to be collected. The Data Collector Set makes a group of counters portable.

In this guide

  • The following are key scenarios for monitoring performance and reliability:

    • Scenario 1: Monitor specific system activity using Performance Monitor

    • Scenario 2: Create a Data Collector Set from Performance Monitor

    • Scenario 3: Create and schedule logs from a Data Collector Set

    • Scenario 4: View log data in Performance Monitor

    • Scenario 5: View a diagnosis report

Starting Windows Performance Monitor

To start Windows Performance Monitor

  • Click Start, click in the Search box, type perfmon.msc, and then press ENTER.

Key scenarios for monitoring performance

This guide discusses five scenarios for using Windows Performance Monitor. Completing the scenarios will help you understand how the tool’s elements work together, and how the tools can assist you in monitoring your system.

Scenario 1: Monitoring specific system activity using Performance Monitor

Overview: Monitoring specific system activity using Performance Monitor

Performance Monitor provides a visual display of built-in Windows performance counters, either in real time or as a way to review historical data. You can add performance counters to Performance Monitor by dragging and dropping, or by creating custom Data Collector Sets. It features multiple graph views to enable you to visually review performance log data, as well as custom views that can be exported as Data Collector Sets for use with performance and logging features.

In this task, you will add performance counters to the Performance Monitor display, observe them in real time, and learn how to pause the Performance Monitor display to examine current system status.

Prerequisites for monitoring specific system activity using Performance Monitor

To complete this task, ensure that you meet the following requirements:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 is installed.

  • You are logged on as a member of the local Administrators or Performance Log Users group.

Steps for monitoring specific system activity using Performance Monitor

To start Performance Monitor

  1. Click Start, click in the Search box, type perfmon.msc, and then press ENTER.

  2. In the navigation tree, expand Monitoring Tools, and then click Performance Monitor.

Performance Monitor enables you to add specific performance counters to the current view.

To add counters to the current Performance Monitor view

  1. In the menu bar above the Performance Monitor graph display, either click the Add button (+) or right-click anywhere in the graph and click Add counters from the menu. The Add Counters dialog box opens.

  2. In the Available Counters section, select counters to view in the Performance Monitor display. The following counters are suggested for this example:

    • Memory: % Committed Bytes In Use

    • Memory: Page Faults/sec

    • PhysicalDisk: Disk Read Bytes/sec

    • PhysicalDisk: Disk Reads/sec

    • PhysicalDisk: Disk Write Bytes/sec

    • PhysicalDisk: Disk Writes/sec

    • Processor: % Idle Time

    • Processor: Interrupts/sec

    • System: Threads

    See Navigating the Add Counters dialog box for more information.

  3. When you are finished selecting counters, click OK.

Navigating the Add Counters dialog box

This table describes how to perform common tasks in the Add Counters dialog box.

 

Task Procedure

Choose the source computer for counters

Select a computer from the drop-down list or click Browse to find other computers. You can add counters from the local computer or another computer on the network to which you have access.

noteNote
The list below the computer selection drop-down shows you available counters that are divided into groups. You can add all of the counters in a group or select just the ones you want to collect.

Display a description of the selected counter group

Select Show description in the lower left corner of the page. The description will update as you select other groups.

Add a group of counters

Highlight the group name and click Add.

noteNote
After highlighting a group name, you can click the down arrow to view included counters. If you highlight a single counter from the list before clicking Add, only that counter will be added.

Add individual counters

Expand the group by clicking the down arrow, highlight the counter, and click Add.

noteNote
You can select multiple counters from a group by holding down the CTRL key and clicking the names in the list. When you have selected all of the counters that you want to add from that group, click Add.

Search for instances of a counter

Highlight the counter group or expand the group and highlight the counter you want to add, type the process name in the drop-down below the Instances of selected object box, and click Search. The process name that you type will be available in the drop-down list to repeat the search with other counters.

If no results are returned and you want to clear your search, you must highlight another group. If there are not multiple instances of a counter group or counter, the search function will not be available.

Add only certain instances of a counter

Highlight a counter group or counter in the list, select the process you want from the list that appears in the Instances of selected object box, and click Add.

Multiple processes can create the same counter, but choosing an instance will collect only those counters produced by the selected process.

noteNote
Unless you select a specific instance, all instances of a counter are collected.

Once you have added counters to the Performance Monitor display, you can change the view to help you identify information that you are looking for.

To monitor current system activity from selected counters in Performance Monitor

  • The default display for Performance Monitor is the Line graph. In this display, two minutes of data appear in a rolling format from left to right, labeled along the X axis. This enables you to observe changes in each counter's activity compared with previous behavior over a short period of time. Hover the mouse pointer over a line in the graph to see details for the counter the line represents.

  • Change the display for the current set of data collectors using the drop-down menu on the toolbar. The Histogram bar displays information in real time, allowing you to observe changes in each counter's activity.

  • The Report display shows current values for each selected counter in text format.

  • Below the display, each counter is listed in a legend with the color of the graph line, its Scale, the Counter, the Instance (in this example, all instances are selected), the Parent (not applicable when all instances are selected), the Object, and the Computer.

    • You can select or clear the check box in each row to toggle whether the counter appears in the current display without removing the counter from the list.

    • Selecting a row in the legend displays specific information about the counter in the area above the legend.

    • While a row is selected in the legend, click the Highlight button on the toolbar to highlight that counter in the graph. To return to normal display, click the Highlight button again.

    • To change the properties of how the counter is displayed, right-click the row in the legend and select Properties from the context menu. The Performance Monitor Properties page will open on the Data tab. Use the drop-down menus to choose your preferences.

  • To freeze the display in order to examine current activity, click the Stop button on the toolbar. To resume observation from the point at which the display was stopped, click the Play button on the toolbar. To move through the data in collection time increments, click the Forward button on the toolbar.

  • Freezing the display in the Line graph will change the amount of time included in the X axis when observation is resumed.

noteNote
When finished with this task, do not close Windows Performance Monitor. The data collectors in the Performance Monitor view will be used in the next scenario.

Scenario 2: Create a Data Collector Set from Performance Monitor

Overview: Creating a Data Collector Set from Performance Monitor

Real-time viewing of data collectors is just one way to use Performance Monitor. Once you have created a combination of data collectors that show you useful information about your system in real time, you can save them as a Data Collector Set, which is the building block of performance monitoring and reporting in Windows Performance Monitor. It organizes multiple data collection points into a single component that can be used to review or log performance.

In this task, you will create a Data Collector Set from counters that are selected in the real-time Performance Monitor view.

Prerequisites for creating a Data Collector Set from Performance Monitor

To complete this task, ensure that you meet the following requirements:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 is installed.

  • You are logged on as a member of the local Administrators or Performance Log Users group.

  • Windows Performance Monitor is running.

  • At least one data collector is selected for display in Performance Monitor.

Known issues for creating a Data Collector Set from Performance Monitor

In order to use the Windows Kernel Trace provider, you must be logged on as a member of the local Administrators group. However, many other data collectors including the ones listed in the previous example are accessible to members of the Performance Log Users group.

Steps for creating a Data Collector Set from Performance Monitor

To create a Data Collector Set from Performance Monitor

  1. Begin with the display of counters from the previous procedure. If you no longer have these settings, start Performance Monitor and add counters to create a custom view you want to save as a Data Collector Set.

  2. Right-click anywhere in the Performance Monitor display pane, point to New, and click Data Collector Set. The Create New Data Collector Set Wizard starts. The Data Collector Set created will contain all of the data collectors selected in the current Performance Monitor view.

  3. Type a name for your Data Collector Set and click Next.

  4. The Root Directory will contain data collected by the Data Collector Set. Change this setting if you want to store your Data Collector Set data in a different location than the default. Browse to and select the directory, or type the directory name.

    noteNote
    If you enter the directory name manually, you must not enter a back slash at the end of the directory name.

  5. Click Next to define a user for the Data Collector Set to run as, or click Finish to save the current settings and exit.

  6. After clicking Next,you can configure the Data Collector Set to run as a specific user. Click the Change button to enter the user name and password for a different user than the default listed.

    noteNote
    If you are a member of the Performance Log Users group, you must configure Data Collector Sets that you create to run under your own credentials.

  7. Click Finish to return to Windows Performance Monitor.

    • To view the properties of the Data Collector Set or make additional changes, select Open properties for this data collector set. You can get more information about the properties of Data Collector Sets by clicking the Help button in the Properties page.

    • To start the Data Collector Set immediately (and begin saving data to the location specified in Step 4), click Start this data collector set now.

    • To save the Data Collector Set without starting collection, click Save and close.

Scenario 3: Create and schedule logs from a Data Collector Set

Overview: Create and schedule logs from a Data Collector Set

Once you have chosen data collectors that provide you with meaningful information about your system performance, you can store the data as logs for later review.

noteNote
Log files created from Data Collector Sets in Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 are not backward-compatible with earlier versions of Windows. However, logs created in earlier versions of Windows can be viewed in Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7.

Prerequisites for creating logs from a Data Collector Set

To complete this task, ensure that you meet the following requirements:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 is installed.

  • You are logged on as a member of the local Administrators or Performance Log Users group.

  • Windows Performance Monitor is running.

  • At least one Data Collector Set has been created and saved (you can use the Data Collector Set that you created in Scenario 2).

Steps for creating logs from a Data Collector Set

By default, a Data Collector Set generates a log file. After creating a Data Collector Set, you can use the Data Management procedures to configure the storage options for each Data Collector Set to include information about the log in the file name, choose to overwrite or append data, and limit the file size of individual logs.

To schedule the Start condition for a Data Collector Set

  1. In Windows Performance Monitor, expand Data Collector Sets and click User Defined.

  2. In the console pane, right-click the name of the Data Collector Set that you want to schedule and click Properties.

  3. Click the Schedule tab.

  4. Click Add to create a start date, time, or day for data collection. When configuring a new data collector set, ensure that this date is after the current date and time.

  5. If you do not want to collect new data after a certain date, select Expiration date and choose a date from the calendar.

    noteNote
    Selecting an expiration date will not stop data collection in progress on that date. It will prevent new instances of data collection from starting after the expiration date. You must use the Stop Condition tab to configure how data collection is stopped.

  6. When finished, click OK.

To schedule the Stop condition for a Data Collector Set

  1. In Windows Performance Monitor, expand Data Collector Sets and click User Defined.

  2. In the console pane, right-click the name of the Data Collector Set that you want to schedule and click Properties.

  3. Click the Stop Condition tab.

  4. To stop collecting data after a period of time, select the Overall duration check box and choose the quantity and units. Note that your overall duration must be longer than the interval at which data is sampled in order to see any data in the report. Do not select an overall duration if you want to collect data indefinitely.

  5. Use limits to segment data collection into separate logs by selecting the When a limit is reached, restart the data collector set check box. If both limit types are selected, data collection will stop or restart when the first limit is reached.

    • Select Duration to configure a time period for data collection to write to a single log file.

    • Select Maximum Size to restart the Data Collector Set or to stop collecting data when the log file reaches the limit.

      noteNote
      If an overall duration is configured, it will override limits.

  6. If you have configured an overall duration, you can click the Stop when all data collectors have finished check box to allow all data collectors to finish recording the most recent values before the Data Collector Set is stopped.

  7. When finished, click OK.

    ImportantImportant
    Larger log files result in longer report generation times. If you review your logs frequently to see recent data, we recommend that you use limits to automatically segment your logs. You can use the relog command to segment long log files or combine multiple short log files. For more information about the relog command, type relog /? at a command prompt.

After you have saved the properties for your schedule, the display in the snap-in window changes to show the name of the log, the type of data the log collects, and the output directory and file name where the log is stored. You can double-click the name of the log to add or remove data collectors from it or change the file name, name format, and whether the log overwrites or appends when the data collector is restarted.

ImportantImportant
Report generation time increases with the size of the log file created by the Data Collector Set. If you review your logs frequently to see recent data, we recommend that you use limits to automatically segment your logs. You can use the relog command to segment long log files or combine multiple short log files.

Next, you can configure how data is archived for the Data Collector Set.

To configure data management for a Data Collector Set

  1. In Windows Performance Monitor, expand Data Collector Sets and click User Defined.

  2. In the console pane, right-click the name of the Data Collector Set that you want to configure and click Data Manager.

  3. On the Data Manager tab, you can accept the default values or make changes according to your data retention policy. See the Data Manager properties table for details on each option.

    • When the Minimum free disk or Maximum folders check box is selected, previous data will be deleted according to the Resource policy you choose (Delete largest or Delete oldest) when the limit is reached.

    • When the Apply policy before the data collector set starts check box is selected, previous data will be deleted according to your selections before the Data Collector Set creates its next log file.

    • When the Maximum root path size check box is selected, previous data will be deleted according to your selections when the root log folder size limit is reached.

  4. Click the Actions tab. You can accept the default values or make changes. See the Actions properties table for details on each option.

    noteNote
    Folder actions allow you to choose how data is archived before it is permanently deleted. You may decide to disable the Data Manager limits in favor of managing all data according to these folder action rules.

  5. When you have finished making your changes, click OK.

Data Manager properties

The following table explains the options that you can configure on the Data Manager tab of the Properties dialog box (accessed by right-clicking the Data Collector Set and clicking Data Manager).

 

Option Definition

Minimum free disk

The amount of disk space that must be available on the drive where log data is stored. If selected, previous data will be deleted according to the Resource policy that you choose when the limit is reached.

Maximum folders

The number of subfolders that can be in the Data Collector Set data directory. If selected, previous data will be deleted according to the Resource policy that you choose when the limit is reached.

Resource policy

Specifies whether to delete the oldest or largest log file or directory when limits are reached.

Maximum root path size

The maximum size of the data directory for the Data Collector Set, including all subfolders. If selected, this maximum path size overrides the Minimum free disk and Maximum folders limits, and previous data will be deleted according to the Resource policy that you choose when the limit is reached.

Actions properties

The following table explains the options that you can configure on the Actions tab of the Properties dialog box (accessed by right-clicking the Data Collector Set and clicking Data Manager).

 

Option Definition

Age

The age in days or weeks of the data file. If the value is 0, the criterion is not used.

Size

The size in megabytes (MB) of the folder where log data is stored. If the value is 0, the criterion is not used.

Cab

A cabinet (.cab) file, which is an archive file format. These files can be created from raw log data and extracted later when needed. Choose create or delete to take action based on the age or size criteria.

Data

Raw log data collected by the Data Collector Set. Log data can be deleted after a .cab file is created to save disk space while still retaining a backup of the original data.

Report

The report file generated by Windows Performance Monitor from raw log data. Report files can be retained even after the raw data or .cab file has been deleted.

Scenario 4: View log data in Performance Monitor

Overview: View log data in Performance Monitor

You can view previously collected logs in Windows Performance Monitor as reports or as Performance Monitor data.

In this task you will learn how to open log data in the Performance Monitor display. All of the display options included in real-time monitoring with Performance Monitor are available for log viewing.

Prerequisites for viewing log data in Performance Monitor

To complete this task, ensure that you meet the following requirements:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 is installed.

  • You are logged on as a member of the local Administrators or Performance Log Users group.

  • Windows Performance Monitor is running.

  • At least one log file is available from a previously-created Data Collector Set.

Steps for viewing log data in Performance Monitor

The following procedures describe how to load and view log data in Performance Monitor.

To load log data in Performance Monitor

  1. Start Windows Performance Monitor.

  2. In the navigation tree, expand Reports, expand User Defined, and expand the Data Collector Set whose log data you want to view.

    noteNote
    If only one Data Collector Set is configured and currently running, you will need to stop the Data Collector Set by clicking Stop, or right-clicking the Data Collector Set name and selecting Stop from the menu.

  3. In the navigation pane, click the name of the log that you want to view. The log data will open in the Report view.

  4. Click the Performance Monitor View button in the toolbar.

Navigating the log view in Performance Monitor

  • Log data opens in the Line graph view by default. While in this view, the X axis of the graph represents the total time included in the log.

  • To view only a specific time frame in the display, click and drag in the display until a section is highlighted, then click the Zoom button or press CTRL+Z.

  • For other viewing options, see the description for viewing system activity in real time in Scenario 2.

Scenario 5: View a diagnosis report

Overview: View a diagnosis report

Windows Performance Monitor includes default system reports for assessing system health and diagnosing system performance issues.

In this scenario, you will collect data to view the System Diagnostics report.

Prerequisites for viewing a diagnosis report

To complete this task, ensure that you meet the following requirements:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 is installed.

  • You are logged on as a member of the local Administrators group, or you have started Windows Performance Monitor with elevated privileges.

  • Windows Performance Monitor is running.

noteNote
The System Diagnostics report uses the Windows Kernel Trace provider, which can only be accessed by members of the local Administrators group.

Steps for viewing a diagnosis report

To view the System Diagnostics report

  1. Start Windows Performance Monitor.

  2. In the navigation tree, expand Data Collector Sets and expand System.

  3. Right-click System Diagnostics and click Start. Data Collection will begin.

  4. In the navigation tree, expand Reports, expand System, expand System Diagnostics, and click the current date.

  5. When data collection and report generation are complete, the System Diagnostics report will appear in the console pane.

    noteNote
    This report collects data for 60 seconds. It may take up to an additional 60 seconds for the report to be generated.

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