Windows Server 2012 : Comprehensive Performance Analysis and Logging (part 3) - Comprehensive performance monitoring - Selecting performance objects and counters to monitor

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Comprehensive performance monitoring

Performance Monitor is a tool designed to track and display performance information in real time. It gathers information on any performance parameters you configured for monitoring and presents it using a graphical display.

Using Performance Monitor

When you are working with Performance Monitor, the main pane graphs any performance items you configured for monitoring, as shown previously in Figure 7. Each performance item you want to monitor is defined by the following three components:

  • Performance objects Represent any system component that has a set of measurable properties. A performance object can be a physical part of the operating system, such as the memory, the processor, or the paging file; a logical component, such as a logical disk or print queue; or a software element, such as a process or a thread.

  • Performance object instances Represent single occurrences of performance objects. If a particular object has multiple instances, such as when a computer has multiple processors, you can use an object instance to track a specific occurrence of that object. You could also elect to track all instances of an object, such as whether you want to monitor all processors on a system.

  • Performance counters Represent measurable properties of performance objects. For example, with a processor, you can measure the percentage of processor utilization using the % Processor Time counter.

In a standard installation of Windows Server 2012, many performance objects are available for monitoring. As you add services, applications, and components, additional performance objects can become available. For example, when you install the Domain Name System (DNS), the DNS object becomes available for monitoring on that computer.

The most common performance objects you’ll want to monitor are summarized in Table 1. Like all performance objects, each performance object listed here has a set of counters that can be tracked.

Table 1. Commonly tracked performance objects

Performance Object



Monitors the file system cache, which is an area of physical memory that indicates application I/O activity

Database ==> Instances

Monitors performance for instances of the embedded database management system used by Windows Server 2012

DFS Replicated Folders

Monitors conflicts, deletions, replication, and other performance factors related to DFS replication folders

DFS Replication Connections

Monitors the data sent and received and other performance statistics for DFS replication connections

DHCPv6 Server

Monitors DHCPv6 message broadcasts and other types of DHCPv6 activities


Monitors performance statistics related to Active Directory Domain Services


Monitors DNS message traffic and other types of DNS activities


Monitors IPv4 communications and related activities


Monitors IPv6 communications and related activities


Monitors the logical volumes on a computer


Monitors memory performance for system cache (including pooled, paged memory, and pooled, nonpaged memory), physical memory, and virtual memory

Network Interface

Monitors the network adapters configured on the computer


Monitors the number of events, mutexes, processes, sections, semaphores, and threads on the computer

Paging File

Monitors page file current and peak usage


Monitors hard disk read/write activity as well as data transfers, hard faults, and soft faults

Print Queue

Monitors print jobs, spooling, and print queue activity


Monitors all processes running on a computer


Monitors processor idle time, idle states, usage, deferred procedure calls, and interrupts


Monitors current server activity and important server usage statistics, including logon errors, access errors, and sessions

Server Work Queues

Monitors server threading and client requests


Monitors system-level counters, including processes, threads, context switching of threads, file system control operations, system calls, and system uptime


Monitors TCPv4 communications and related activities


Monitors TCPv6 communications and related activities


Monitors all running threads, and allows you to examine usage statistics for individual threads by process ID


Monitors UDPv4 communications and related activities


Monitors UDPv6 communications and related activities

Selecting performance objects and counters to monitor

The most commonly tracked performance objects are Memory, PhysicalDisk, and Processor. When you first open Performance Monitor, Performance Monitor is configured to graph only the % Processor Time counter. Many other performance counters are available for tracking. To track additional counters, you use the Add Counters dialog box, as shown in Figure 9. With the Performance Monitor node selected in the Performance console or Computer Management, you open this dialog box by pressing Ctrl+I or tapping or clicking the Add Counters button on the toolbar.

Select the objects and the counters that you want to track.
Figure 9. Select the objects and the counters that you want to track.

After you open the Add Counters dialog box, you can select objects and counters to track by completing these steps:

  1. In the Select Counters From Computer box, enter the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) name of the server you want to work with, such as \\CorpServer62, or choose <Local computer> to work with the local computer. You need to be at least a member of the Performance Monitor Users group in the domain or the local computer to perform remote monitoring.

  2. Adding counters to track is easy. Select the type of object you want to work with, such as Memory. When you select an object entry by tapping or clicking it, all related counters are selected. If you expand an object entry, you can see all the related counters and then select individual counters by tapping or clicking them. With a keyboard, use Ctrl+click or Shift+click to select multiple counters.

  3. When you select an object or any of its counters, in most cases you will see the related instances. Choose _Total to work with a summary view of all counter instances. Choose All Instances to select all counter instances for monitoring. Or select one or more individual counter instances to monitor.

  4. When you select an object or a group of counters for an object as well as the object instances, tap or click Add to add the counters to the graph. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to add other performance parameters. You can then repeat this process, as necessary, to add counters for other performance objects. Tap or click OK when you’re finished adding counters.

As you’ve seen, it’s easy to add counters to track. What isn’t so easy is determining which counters you should track. While you are working with the Add Counters dialog box, you can get a detailed explanation of a counter by selecting a counter and then selecting the Show Description check box. If you add too many counters or track the wrong counters, don’t worry. In the Performance Monitor view, you can delete counters later by selecting their entries in the lower portion of the details pane and then tapping or clicking Delete on the toolbar or pressing the Delete key on your keyboard. You can also delete all counters being tracked and start over with a clean graph by selecting an entry in the lower portion of the details pane, pressing Ctrl+A, and then pressing the Delete key.

Performance Monitor displays each counter that you are tracking in a different color and line thickness. You can use the legend in the lower portion of the details pane to help you determine which counter is being graphed where. If you are unsure, tap or click a line in the graph to select the corresponding counter in the legend list. To highlight a specific counter so that it is easy to pick out in the graph, select the counter in the legend list and then press Ctrl+H.

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