Lesson 7: Using Performance Console

Lesson 7:?Using Performance Console

Windows XP Professional provides two tools for monitoring resource usage: the System Monitor snap-in and the Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in. Both of these snap-ins are contained in the Performance console. You use the System Monitor snap-in to track resource use and network throughput. You use the Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in to collect performance data from the local or a remote computer.

After this lesson, you will be able to

  • Use System Monitor to monitor resource usage
  • Add objects and counters to System Monitor
  • Change the output to view it in a graph, a histogram, or a report

Estimated lesson time: 30 minutes

Using System Monitor

To access the Performance console click Start, click Control Panel, click Performance And Maintenance, click Administrative Tools, and then double-click the Performance shortcut. The Performance console contains the System Monitor snap-in and the Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in (see Figure 15.11).

Figure 15.11??System Monitor snap-in displaying counter values in a graph

You use System Monitor to collect and view real-time data about memory, disk, processor, network, and other activity on your computer or on remote computers. You can view this data in a graph, a histogram, or a report. To change the display you can click the appropriate icon, as shown in Figure 15.11, or use the following key combinations: Ctrl+G for the graph, Ctrl+B for the histogram, and Ctrl+R for the report.

A histogram is a chart that consists of horizontal or vertical bars. The widths or heights of these bars represent the values of certain data.

Monitoring resources on your computer and overall system performance can help you to do the following:

  • Evaluate how well your system is currently performing
  • Detect and eliminate bottlenecks to improve performance
  • Look for trends to plan for future growth and upgrades
  • Evaluate the effects of tuning and configuration changes on your system

System Monitor helps you gauge a computer's efficiency and locate and resolve current or potential problems. You monitor resources on your computer by selecting objects in System Monitor. A set of counters exists for each object; Table 15.10 describes some of the available objects.

Table 15.10??Partial List of Available Objects in System Monitor

Adding Counters

Adding counters, such as those described in Table 15.10, to an object allows you to track certain aspects of the object. The following steps allow you to add counters to an object in System Monitor:

  1. At the bottom of the Performance console, right-click Counter and click Add Counters.

    The Add Counters dialog box appears.

  2. In the Performance Object list box, select the object for which you want to add counters.
  3. Ensure that Select Counters From List is selected.

    You can add all counters, but that usually provides more information than you need or can interpret.

  4. Select a counter from the list and click Add.

    For an explanation of a counter, select it and then click Explain.

    If you want to add several counters at the same time, you can hold down Ctrl to select individual counters from the list. You can hold down Shift if you want to select several counters in a row, and click the first in the list you want and then click the last in the list that you want to select. All counters listed between the first and last you clicked are automatically selected.
  5. When you have completed your selection of objects and counters, click Close to return to the Performance console.

Table 15.11 explains a few of the counters you might find useful in evaluating your system's performance.

Table 15.11??Partial List of Counters Available in System Monitor

Counter Description

Under Processor, choose % Processor Time

Indicates the percentage of time that the processor spends executing a nonidle thread, which is the percentage of time that the processor is active. During some operations this might reach 100%. Periods of 100% activity should only occur occasionally.

Under Processor, choose Interrupts/Sec

Indicates the average number of hardware interrupts the processor is receiving and servicing in each second. It does not include deferred procedure calls (DPCs). This counter value is an indicatorof the activity of devices that generate interrupts, such as the system clock, mouse, network adapter cards, and other peripheral devices. If the Processor Time value is more than 90 percent and the Interrupts/Sec value is greater than 15 percent, this processor is probably in need of assistance to handle the interrupt load.

Under Processor, choose % DPC Time

Indicates how much time the processor is spending processing DPCs. DPCs are software interrupts or tasks that require immediate processing, causing other tasks to be handled at a lower priority. DPCs represent further processing of client requests.

Under System, choose Processor Queue Length

Indicates the number of threads in the processor queue. There is asingle queue for processor time, even on computers with multiple processors. A sustained processor queue of greater than two threads usually indicates that the processor is slowing down the overall system performance.

Using Performance Logs and Alerts

You use Performance Logs and Alerts to record performance data and system alerts. You can automatically collect performance data from the local computer or from remote computers. You can view the logged data from System Monitor or you can export it to a spreadsheet program or a database, such as structured query language (SQL). The details pane of the console window shows logs and alerts that you have created (see Figure 15.12).

Figure 15.12??Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in

Table 15.12 explains the information provided by the columns in the details pane.

Table 15.12??Performance Logs and Alerts Columns

Establishing a Baseline

When you are ready to begin monitoring the resources on your system, the first thing you need to do is establish a baseline. A baseline is a measurement derived from collecting data over an extended period of time. The data should reflect typical types of workloads and user connections, but should also include any unusual activity that might occur. The baseline represents resource usage under normal conditions.

Once you have collected data on performance over an extended period of time, with data reflecting periods of low, average, and high usage, you can determine what is acceptable performance for your system, and that determination becomes your baseline. You use the baseline to determine when bottlenecks are developing or to watch for changes in usage patterns. Determining bottlenecks will help you in troubleshooting problems that might arise. Watching for changes in usage patterns will help you plan for the future.

Identifying and Resolving Bottlenecks

Deviations from your baseline are good indicators of performance problems. A bottleneck exists if a particular component's limitation is slowing the entire system performance. Even if one component in your system is heavily used, if the other components or the system as a whole are not slowed down, there is no bottleneck.

If you discover a bottleneck on your system, here are some basic suggestions to help you solve the problem:

  • Verify that your hardware and software configurations meet or exceed Microsoft's recommendation for Windows XP Professional and the services you are running.
  • Review the applications that you are running and ensure the resources that they require are available.
  • Review network and disk utilization and other activities occurring at the times that you see increased resource utilization.
  • Never make more than one change at a time when trying to resolve a bottleneck and always repeat monitoring to verify that the change you made actually improved the situation.

Practice:?Using System Monitor

In this practice, you use System Monitor to monitor system resources. You add objects and counters to control what is being monitored, and you then view the three views-graph, histogram, and report-for output.

To monitor system resources

  1. If necessary, log on as Fred or with a user account that is a member of the Administrators group.
  2. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Performance And Maintenance.
  3. Click Administrative Tools, and then double-click the Performance shortcut.

    Windows XP Professional starts the Performance console with the System Monitor selected.

    What objects and counters are selected by default?

  4. Under the graph, right-click Counter and then click Add Counters.

    Windows XP Professional displays the Add Counters dialog box.

    What performance object is selected by default?

  5. In the Select Counters From list, select Interrupts/Sec and then click Explain.

    Windows XP Professional displays an Explain Text dialog box indicating that Interrupts/Sec is the average number of hardware interrupts the processor receives and services each second.

  6. Close the Explain Text dialog box.
  7. Click Add to add the Interrupts/Sec counter to the Processor object.
  8. In the Performance Object list box, select Paging File.
  9. Under Select Counters From List, ensure that %Usage is selected and then click Add to add the Paging File object with the %Usage counter.
  10. Close the Add Counters dialog box.
  11. Press Ctrl+B to view a histogram.
  12. Press Ctrl+R to view a report.
  13. Press Ctrl+G to return to a graph.
  14. Close the Performance console.

Lesson Review

The following questions will help you determine whether you have learned enough to move on to the next lesson. If you have difficulty answering these questions, review the material in this lesson before beginning the next lesson. The answers are in Appendix A, "Questions and Answers."

  1. Which of the following monitoring tools are included in the Performance console? (Choose all answers that are correct.)
    1. System Monitor snap-in
    2. Task Manager snap-in
    3. Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in
    4. Task Scheduler
  2. Why should you monitor resources and overall system performance?
  3. What is a baseline and what is a bottleneck?
  4. Why do you need to determine a baseline when you monitor system resources and system performance?

Lesson Summary

  • The Performance console contains the System Monitor snap-in and the Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in.
  • The System Monitor snap-in allows you to monitor the performance of your computer or other computers on the network.
  • The System Monitor snap-in provides performance objects that consist of counters for collecting data.
  • The Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in automatically records performance data and system alerts on your local computer or from remote computers.
  • A baseline is a measurement derived from collecting data over an extended period of time that represents resource usage under normal conditions.
  • A bottleneck is any component that slows down the entire system's performance.