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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.

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