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.

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