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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How to: Troubleshoot reminders in Outlook

I recently starting receiving an error when I opened Outlook that said, “Cannot start the reminder service. Unable to show reminders.” As busy as I am, the reminders are extremely important. I thought I’d share the solution with you in case you’ve run into the same thing.

You can start Outlook with a variety of switches, one of which is “/Cleanreminders”. Click on Start, then click on Run. In the Run dialog, enter the full path to Outlook.exe and append the switch /Cleanreminders. It will probably look something like this:
“c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\OUTLOOK.EXE.” /Cleanreminders

Note the use of quotation marks around the path. If you’d like more information about this procedure and the use of Outlook switches in general, use this link:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;296192

For more information about working better with Windows, espcially supporting Windows Server 2003, visit our Windows training section at soundtraining.net. Check it out online or call 206.988.5858 for more info.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Windows tip: Customizing PerfMon counters

In our last post, we talked about the default counters in Microsoft Windows Server 2003/XP Performance Monitor. Obviously, you’ll want to customize the Performance Monitor counters to meet your particular needs.

You can add additional counters by using the key combination of ctrl+i. In the Add Counters window that appears are four configuration options. You can choose to monitor the local computer or a remote system, you can select the performance object, you can choose the counters to monitor, and you can specify an instance or multiple instances to monitor.

Here’s a point-by-point explanation:

You can monitor systems running Microsoft Windows XP (Home or Professional), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, or systems running legacy operating systems such as Windows 2000 from the Performance Monitor. You can enter a UNC (Universal Naming Convention) name (\computername) or an IP address for the remote system. Best practice is to monitor systems remotely instead of locally to get a more “real-world” view of the system’s performance without the overhead of Performance Monitor.

Here's an explanation of the monitoring options:

  • An object is the focus of your tracking and includes things such as processor, physical disk, memory, paging file, and many other objects.
  • A counter is a particular process being executed by the object such as %processor utilization.
  • An instance is a more detailed view of the object. For example, a system with multiple hard disks would show the total for all hard disk activity, plus an instance for each physical disk.

It’s a good idea to perform baseline monitoring on systems while they’re running well. That way, when things go wrong, you can run a similar performance monitor to identify differences between the two monitors and more easily identify the problem. Microsoft provides a web page with helpful information concerning counter values.

Want to know more about getting maximum performance out of Windows Server 2003? (Of course you do!) Our unique, two-day Windows Server 2003 seminar, covers the most important aspects of installation, configuration, optimizing, and troubleshooting. It’s available for presentation onsite at your location for groups of four or more. Call Janet at 206.988.5858 or click here for details.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Windows tip: Performance Monitor Basics

The Windows Performance Monitor is the tool we use to observe system resource utilization and other activity on individual systems. You can see an abbreviated view of the Performance Monitor in the Task Manager, but to really see what’s going on, open up the full Performance Monitor in Administrative Tools. (One way to get to Performance Monitor is through Control Panel, then click on Administrative Tools, and double-click on Performance).

By default (under Windows XP and Server 2003), you’ll see three counters:

  • pages per second
  • average disk queue length
  • % processor utilization

Pages per second is an indication of how busy your paging file is. An excessively high level of paging file utilization could indicate some sort of a memory problem; perhaps you need more RAM.

Average Disk Queue Length is the average number of both read and write requests that were queued for the selected disk during the sample period. An excessively high level of queued requests might indicate a problem with a disk controller or the actual disk (or it might indicate that you’re asking the system to do more than it’s capable of doing; try spreading the workload across mutliple systems).

% Processor Utilization is an indication of how busy the processor is doing something other than the idle cycle. Excessive processor utilization could indicate many things including a process gone bad that’s slamming the processor or loading the system beyond its capacity; try spreading the workload across multiple systems.

You can add additional counters by using the key combination of ctrl+I or clicking the + button in the toolbar. In our next blog post, we’ll talk about adding counters and monitoring systems remotely.

You can learn much more about working with Windows’ Performance Monitor in our two-day Windows Server 2003 training seminar, available for onsite presentation at your location for groups of four or more. Click here or call Janet at 206.988.5858 for details including dates and availability.