Using Windows Performance Monitor – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 1.4

The Windows Performance Monitor can help you narrow down the cause of your computer slowdown problems. In this video, you’ll learn how to configure, run, and create reports with Performance Monitor.
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If you’ve ever had to troubleshoot the Windows operating system, then you’ve probably looked a lot of different metrics. You’ve probably examine how much memory an application might be using, or you’ve looked at CPU utilization to try to see how overloaded a particular computer might be. But you’re usually examining that information at a single point in time.

It would be nice if we could examine those metrics over a very long period of time to get an idea of how the computer might be running throughout the day. Well, one way you can do that is with the built in Performance Monitor inside of Windows. This is a perfect way to examine these long term statistics to get a feel for how literally hundreds of different metrics might be performing inside of your Windows operating system.

You’ll see disk information, CPU utilization, the amount of network bandwidth that’s in use. You can view information about specific configurations, and so much more. We’ll look at just a few of these when we demonstrate how this Performance Monitor works. You can also have Performance Monitor tell you when things might be occurring.

You may not have time to sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day and watch all of the metrics as they tick by. So you can configure Performance Monitor to alert you if a particular value goes above or below a particular range. That way you can walk away and do other things, and then you’ll be informed when something goes awry. This information, of course, can be stored over a very long period of time.

You can set up Performance Monitor to grab snippets of information, maybe collect for only an hour or a minute, or maybe you’d like to collect information for an entire day. You have control over when this Performance Monitor starts collecting, and exactly how long it collects that data, and where it stores that data afterwards.

Then you’re able to go into Performance Monitor, have a look at some different reports, and get a nice overview through this built in report viewer of exactly what we found during that monitoring period. Performance Monitor is available in Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. There are some minor differences between the different Performance Monitor versions.

The Windows Vista and Windows 7 has some additional features, so you may want to look at Performance Monitor in all of those different operating systems to get a feel for what the differences might be. You’ll find Performance Monitor from your Start menu in your Control Panel under Administrative Tools. And the Performance Monitor icon you’ll find right inside of that.

This has the same look as the Microsoft Management Console, the MMC. You’ll have on the left side the options that are available to you. In the center are the results of those options, and you could even turn on the actions column, which is normally on the far right side, but you’ll notice in Performance Monitor that it’s turned off by default. The options in the left hand menu are the traditional Performance Monitor.

There are also data collector sets and reports that we can view from here as well if you’ve ever used Performance Monitor in Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7, you’ve almost always gone to this view first. This is a bar that ticks off every second of what the performance might be of the metrics that are chosen at the bottom.

And for this particular machine, the default that comes up is processor time, and it’s viewing the processor information for just this auxiliary control center computer. This brings up a good point, because you can use this monitor view to be able to monitor multiple systems simultaneously. Maybe you have a series of servers, and you’d like to monitor memory, CPU utilization, and network utilization of all of those devices on one screen.

You can set up a single Performance Monitor view to do that, and you would use these icons at the top to help configure that. For instance, adding a new metric is right here. You can add it from a local computer, or from a computer that’s over the network, and you can choose from any of these different categories. You can see there’s a huge amount of information that you can choose inside of the Performance Monitor.

Let’s say that we, of course, like the processor, the percentage that’s already there but. Let’s also look at other things, like network interface. I would like to add bytes sent and bytes received. That would be interesting to see. What other information? Here’s memory information. I would like to see the percentage of committed bytes in use. So you might want to go through these metrics and determine what information is most important for you.

Once you’ve selected the counters you’d like to add, we can click OK, and you’ll notice it brings up those counters at the bottom. And now our view is going to change to have different colors inside of it. Let’s get some traffic going. I’m going to start up a Windows Explorer session. Let’s also go to our all programs. Let’s start up in our accessories view. There’s an XPS viewer.

Let’s also have, WordPad would be good. Let’s find that. There’s WordPad. And so we can have all of these things going at the same time, and you’ll notice that different information is going back and forth over the system. I can choose different options in my explorer, and you’ll notice that as we do that, you can see that there are different types of metrics that start to appear.

Especially things like the number of bytes sent and received, and the amount of that information is spiking up as we’re sending that back and forth. Those types of views give us a nice idea of how things are going in a relatively short term, because you’ll notice when this gets to the end of the bar, it goes all the way to the left again, and then it starts going through that line again.

But maybe you’d like to get information over a longer period of time, maybe you’d like to collect it for many different metrics all at the same time. In fact, you might want hundreds of metrics monitored simultaneously, and having all of those on this screen would be a little difficult to view exactly what was going on.

So in that case, you have this option for data collector sets, where you can have a single grouping of metrics that is collected simultaneously over a certain period of time. There are a number of data collector sets that are already in here. There’s some user defined. I’ve not put any into my user defined. There are also system data collector sets.

These systems data collector sets that are included with Performance Monitor is one for system diagnostics. You can see there are a lot of metrics measured for system diagnostics. There’s also one for system performance. So you might build out your own data sets as well, so that you can have the data sets collect exactly what you would like to see.

All of these data sets, if I right mouse click and look at the data collector sets, you can configure to store the information in a certain area, you can define it so that only certain people may collect this data, set it up on a schedule. Maybe it starts at 8:00 in the morning, it runs for eight hours, and then it stops so that then you can examine a workday’s information.

You can also set this up to begin collecting, and then proceed for a certain amount of time. Maybe it’s one minute. Maybe it’s a certain size of space, so that you don’t exceed space on your hard drive or your storage device, and you can of course set this up to run as a particular task. And this will start and stop with that task running as well. A lot of different options there. Let’s run a system diagnostics.

You can see that if you right mouse click, you have a lot of options to run this. You can also just click the Play button at the top, and it will begin collecting information in the case of system diagnostics for an exact minute. So it’s going to run in whatever we do in our system, as we go through and change and examine things that are on our hard drive. There’s memory that’s being used.

There’s different information that’s available on this computer that’s being accessed, and going across the network. And the system diagnostics is going to collect all of that information, and much more. Once this finishes collecting the data, we can then produce reports from that information. You can see there are some user defined reports, and some system reports that are already built into this.

Notice there’s a system diagnostics report and a system performance report that correlates back to the system diagnostics and the system performance. All we would like to do now is take the data we’ve collected and be able to view a report on what our system has gathered. Once that 60 seconds is over for the system diagnostics report, it goes into that hourglass mode, and then immediately is completed.

And if we go down to our system diagnostics, I have a report that was now created, that tells me exactly what happened during that 60 second period. So it tells me first three things right off the bat. It’s giving me warnings at the top so that you don’t have to look through all of the raw data.

You can know immediately that this particular system doesn’t have an antivirus product on it, that the gamings graphics rating for this system is poor, and the graphics rating in general for this system is poor. This is a virtual machine, and it probably would end up having a poor graphics rating.

So if somebody was complaining that their particular system was not playing games very well, or the very graphically intense program they happen to be using is not performing well, you might see, indeed, this system is not really designed to do that type of information. But maybe you’d like to get an overview of everything else. We’ll of course have basic system checks here for your operating system and your disk, and your security center.

Your system service, hardware, device and driver checks. I passed all of those, but if you click the plus sign, you can see exactly what Windows looked at to be able to determine what was right and what was wrong with that. If it’s details you want, you can even drill down into the exact software configuration for the operating system. Here’s security center information.

And notice that any problems will pop up in a colored view. This red flag has appeared and says, there’s no antivirus product on here. And of course, that’s what we saw repeated in the overall warnings of the system. There’s a lot of information you can gather from inside a Performance Monitor.

If you’re trying to monitor servers over a long period of time to just watch the health of those, or maybe you’re doing a troubleshooting task to a very specific device to determine why an application may not be performing well, Performance Monitor may have all the information you need to help solve that issue.