Network Administration: Monitoring Performance

The Performance Monitor console in Windows Server 2008 is a troubleshooting tool that can help you track down nasty and elusive problems — particularly the type that don’t cause the server to crash but just cause it to run slowly. With the Performance Monitor console, you can look at many different aspects of system performance to figure out why your system is dragging.

Using the Reliability and Performance Monitor

To run the Performance Monitor console, choose Start→Administrative Tools→Performance Monitor. The Performance Monitor comes to life.

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The display in shows essential performance data for the server, including memory and network interface utilization, disk access, and so on.

If you want, you can click the Open Resource Monitor link to display the Resource Monitor, which graphically displays the utilization information as shown in the following figure. This display resembles something you’d expect to see in a hospital.

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You can summon more specific performance information by clicking Performance Monitor in the console tree of the Performance Monitor console. This brings up the Performance Monitor..

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The Performance Monitor lets you keep track of several different aspects of system performance at once. You track each performance aspect by setting up a counter. You can choose from hundreds of different counters. The following table describes some of the most commonly used counters. Notice that each counter refers to a server object, such as physical disk, memory, or the processor.

Commonly Used Performance Counters
Object Counter Description
Physical Disk % Free Space The percentage of free space on the server’s physical
disks. It should be at least 15%.
Physical Disk Average Queue Length The number of disk operations that are waiting while the disk
is busy servicing other disk operations. It should be two or
less.
Memory Pages/second The number of pages retrieved per second from the virtual
memory page files. A typical value is about 2,500.
Processor % Processor Time The percentage of the processor’s time that it is busy
doing work rather than sitting idle. It should be 85% or less.

To add a counter, click the Add button to bring up the Add Counters dialog box, as shown in the following figure. Then select the object that you want to track from the drop-down list, choose the counter that you want to add from the list, and click Add. You can add more than one counter from this dialog box; when you’re finished adding counters, click OK to dismiss the Add Counters dialog box.

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The act of gathering performance data slows down your server, so don’t leave performance logging turned on all the time. Use it only occasionally to gather baseline data or when you’re experiencing a performance problem.