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Windows 8 : Monitoring, optimizing, and troubleshooting system health and performance (part 5) - Monitoring system resources by using Performance Monitor

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4. Monitoring system resources by using Performance Monitor

For monitoring system performance, nothing is better than the Performance Monitor tool. Built into Windows from the beginning, the Performance Monitor tool enables administrators to glean deep insight into how even the most granular aspects of the computer are running. By using Performance Monitor, administrators can create processes that continually monitor specific system statistics to watch those resources.

To open Performance Monitor, start typing Performance Monitor on the Start screen and, when Windows narrows down your search selection, tap or click Performance Monitor. Alternatively, run Performance Monitor from the Power User menu or tap or click Run on the Start screen, type perfmon, and then tap or click OK.

When you first open the tool, there’s not a lot to see, although if you expand Monitoring Tools and select Performance Monitor, Windows starts monitoring one system metric: percent processor time (Figure 13).

Windows 8 Performance Monitor

Figure 13. Windows 8 Performance Monitor

For the system being monitored in Figure 13, only a single metric is being monitored. Although monitoring system processor performance is an important activity, you can monitor much more.

To add data elements to the graph, complete the following steps:

  1. Open the Performance Monitor tool.

  2. Expand Monitoring Tools.

  3. Choose Performance Monitor.

  4. From the menu above the graph, tap or click the green plus icon that appears above the graph.

    This opens the Add Counters window shown in Figure 14.

    Adding counters to the Performance Monitor graph

    Figure 14. Adding counters to the Performance Monitor graph

  5. From the Available Counters box, choose the performance metric you’d like to track.

  6. Tap or click the Add button to move the counter to the Added Counters list.

  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for additional counters, if desired.

  8. When you’re finished, tap or click the OK button.

You might be surprised at the sheer number of counters that are available for your use. Hundreds of counters are divided into dozens of categories. You can monitor even the most granular system elements, which makes the Performance Monitor tool ideal for troubleshooting performance-related system issues.

Tip

EXPLORE PERFORMANCE MONITOR IN DETAIL

If you’re interested in learning about how your Windows 8–based computer really works, one of the best tools you can use to do that is Performance Monitor. You can see all the elements the system is capable of monitoring. By perusing the various counters at your disposal, you can see exactly how your computer sees various values. As time goes on and you learn more about these counters and how your Windows-based computer operates, you can troubleshoot more quickly any problems that might arise.

While you’re looking for performance counters to add to your graph, select the Show Description check box. This will help you understand exactly what the counter tracks.

For some counters, multiple instances of the counter are available, such as when there is more than one of a certain device. For example, if you have more than one hard disk drive in your computer, you would see each drive listed separately. As a result, if you suspect you’re having a problem with just one of the drives, you can monitor just that drive without viewing statistics from the other drive.

Performing system diagnostics by using Performance Monitor

Even though you can take the time to go through individual performance counters to decide what you want to monitor, Windows provides you with a fast way to gather dozens of critical performance elements. After the information is gathered, Windows displays the results of the system diagnostic into an easily readable report. The full system diagnostic relies on more than just performance counters to work its magic. It’s configured to pull all kinds of information from various parts of the system.

To run a full system diagnostic, complete the following steps:

  1. Open the Performance Monitor tool.

  2. Expand Data Collector Sets and then choose System.

  3. Select System Diagnostics.

    A number of items appear in the right side of the window. If you double-tap or double-click one of the items, you can see how Windows plans to gather the information necessary to satisfy the tool’s needs. In the example in Figure 15, Windows browses a registry key to determine UAC status.

    A look at the source of one of the System Diagnostics data points

    Figure 15. A look at the source of one of the System Diagnostics data points

  4. Press and hold or right-click System Diagnostics in the navigation pane.

    From the shortcut menu, choose Start to start a data collector process, using default settings. Allow the data collector to run for as long as you like. The longer it runs, the more information it will collect.

  5. Press and hold or right-click System Diagnostics and choose Stop. A new report associated with your data collection efforts will be created.

  6. Expand Reports, System, and System Diagnostics in the navigation pane.

  7. Select the new report. It will be displayed in the main window, as shown in Figure 16.

The results of the system diagnostics process

Figure 16. The results of the system diagnostics process

The report that is generated is comprehensive. It provides you with a lot of the information you need to identify and enables you to correct potential system performance issues and optimize your system.

Other  
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  •  Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista : Using Event Logging for Troubleshooting (part 4) - Summary of Group Policy Event IDs
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