Understanding Performance and Reliability Monitoring

Performance and Reliability monitor (PerfMon) is a very powerful new tool that has been shipped with Windows Server 2008 that can collect data about everything and anything on your windows system.  It’s a MMC console and its built in the Server Manager or you can just hit run and launch perfmon.exe. It’s your all around tool for monitoring performance, logs and alerts, done even on real time.

The danger however is that because of its scope, PerfMon may give you a too much data. It may also yield some useless data, which I think this is the prime reason why most of the Systems Administrators, IT planners and product builders that I meet doesn’t look at PerfMon or on the Windows logs for diagnostics. The feedback was its just too much data and no real processed information. It would take them as much as effort and frustration trying to dig thru the logs rather than diagnosing their problems head on.

PerfMon on the other hand, when fine tuned can give a very useful view of a system such as its resource availability, thresholds, performance, diagnostics and reliability reports. PerfMon can also be extended because the logs are already in an XML format. Also Performance Monitoring thru PerfMon can now be done remotely.

So again the benefits:

      • Know what your system can still do and cannot do (resource availability and thresholds)
      • Know what are your system bottlenecks and performance (performance)
      • Audit collection of faults and failures in the system with drill down reports (diagnostics)
      • On a problematic system, you will know what events or actions that makes your system unreliable (reliability)
      • PerfMon extensibility feature using XML based log files (extensibility)
      • Monitoring from another machine (remoting)

The basics:

            There are a couple of things to consider on analyzing server performance and I will always ask about the Processor, the memory and the disk, sometimes the network card. With perfmon monitoring is done real-time by going to the Reliability and Performance consoles initial view, the Resource Overview.

            In the Resource Overview there are 4 graphs that you will see: the CPU, DISK, Network and Memory

Don’t confuse or overwhelm your self (like I did when I first saw this four) because this is really quite simple to look at when you know what you are looking for and what is available for you.

  1. CPU: The green line is the percent used and its being monitored for 60 secs.
  2. Disk: The green here is the total I/O of your disk.
  3. Network: Green bar again for total network usage (traffic)
  4. Memory: The most important to look at here is the blue line which is your percentage of use.

Side note: My rule of the thumb here the more the better 😀

So check out PerfMon at TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc755081.aspx


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John is currently creating digital assets that protects people and their future, a technical trainer and a full time geek specializing on development and deployment of innovations created with .NET framework on Windows platform as well as Windows infrastructure projects. He is the primary contact of the Philippine Windows Users Group, a contributor at the Microsoft Philippines Community forums and regularly conducts community sessions as well as other Microsoft technology events. John owns the Busy Saving The World Techblog.

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