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Exchange Server 2010 : Track Exchange Performance (part 1) - Use the Performance Tools Available

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Ensuring that Exchange servers are highly performing machines is a vital area to focus on. This was more apparent in previous versions of Exchange where performance bottlenecks were more obvious. With the many improvements in the architecture of Exchange and with the move to a 64 bit–only operating system, the performance demands of the system are becoming easier to meet. But before you can meet your performance requirements, you need to have an idea of how your Exchange servers are performing. This section will show you how to gather this information and gauge the level of performance that you need for Exchange.
Figure 1. Viewing the results of your health check

In this section, we'll first look at the tools that you can use for checking the performance of Exchange. Then I'll show you how to stress-test your servers and test the performance limitations of your configuration.

1. Use the Performance Tools Available

When analyzing the performance of Exchange, some of the best tools that you have at your disposal are the free ones that come with Exchange and Windows. The two tools that we'll look at in particular are the Performance Troubleshooter and the Performance Monitor tool.

1.1. Run the Performance Troubleshooter

The Performance Troubleshooter is a part of the Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant tool. With the Performance Troubleshooter, you can analyze and troubleshoot performance problems in Exchange as they are happening.

To use the Performance Troubleshooter, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the EMC and browse to the Toolbox node in the Console tree.

  2. Double-click on the Performance Troubleshooter tool in the list of tools in the Work area.

    The Microsoft Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant launches and takes you directly to the Performance Troubleshooter.

  3. At the Welcome screen of the Performance Troubleshooter, type a name for the performance analysis that you are running. Select the option Troubleshoot New Performance Issue and then click Next.

  4. On the Exchange Performance Troubleshooter screen you'll see the What Symptoms Are You Seeing? field. Select the appropriate symptom that you are troubleshooting from the drop-down list. Click Next to continue.

  5. At the next screen, type the name of the Exchange server in the Server Name field and ensure that the domain controller in the Global Catalog Server Name field is the one that you want to use. Then click Next.

  6. On the Configure Data Collection screen, determine whether you want to start the collection now or adjust it to run at a later time. If performing the data collection now, select Start Collection Now and click Next.

    You can also change the location where performance data is stored by changing the directory in the Root Data Directory field.

    The Performance Troubleshooter performs the data collection and compiles the performance report. These tasks may take some time to finish.

  7. After the analysis is complete, you will be presented with the performance report in the View Results screen. You can view the results of the report and make the appropriate changes. If you click the Performance Issues tab (as shown in Figure 2), you can go through what the tool identified as potential performance problems and correct or ignore them.

Figure 2. Viewing the results of the performance report

1.2. Analyze Performance with the Performance Monitor

The Performance Monitor tool allows you to specify one or more performance counters to collect data on and track. The tool is used for collection and reporting of the real-time or precollected performance statistics. You can add and remove counters from the monitor and generate and save reports based on those counters.

1.2.1. View Real-Time Performance Statistics

You can view performance statistics in real time by using the following steps:

  1. Open the EMC and browse to the Toolbox node in the Console tree.

  2. In the Work area, select Performance Monitor from the list of tools and double-click on it to launch it.

  3. In the Exchange Server Performance Monitor tool, select the System Monitor node from the tree in the left pane.

    The System Monitor is used for viewing real-time statistics based on the performance counters that are currently loaded. The list near the bottom of the graph contains the currently loaded counters.

  4. Check and uncheck counters to display them or remove them from the graph (see Figure 3).

    Figure 3. Reviewing the performance counters in real time
  5. To add counters to the list, click the plus sign above the graph or press Ctrl+I.

    The Add Counters dialog box will be displayed.

  6. In the Available Counters section, scroll through the list of counters that are available and click the Add button to add counters to the tool. This is shown in Figure 11.16.

  7. Click OK to close the Add Counters dialog box and go back to the System Monitor.

1.2.2. Capture and Save Performance Statistics for Analysis

You can create data collections that allow you to monitor the system for a period of time and save the results. These results can then be used later for analysis of the performance statistics. Use the following steps to collect the performance statistics:

  1. Open the EMC and browse to the Toolbox node in the Console tree.

  2. In the Work area, select Performance Monitor from the list of tools and double-click on it to launch it.

    Figure 4. Adding performance counters to the tool
  3. In the Exchange Server Performance Monitor tool, browse to the Performance Logs And Alerts => Data Collector Sets => User Defined node in the tree in the left pane.

  4. Right-click on the User Defined node in the tree and select New => Data Collector Set from the drop-down menu.

    This launches the Create New Data Collector Set wizard.

  5. On the first screen of the wizard, type a name for the data collector set. This is an arbitrary name that you will use to uniquely identify this set of data from other sets that you create.

  6. Choose the Create Manually option to create an advanced data set composed of the metrics that you want to capture. Click Next to continue.

  7. In the screen What Type Of Data Do You Want To Include?, select the Performance Counter check box and click Next.

  8. At the next screen, Which Performance Counters Would You Like To Log?, click the Add button to add your counters to the list.

    This launches the Add Counters dialog box.

  9. In the Available Counters section, scroll through the list of counters that are available and click the Add button to add counters to the collection. Click OK when you've added all the counters that you are going to use.

  10. When back in the wizard, adjust the interval that you want to collect the data in. Click Next to continue.

    The default interval is set to collect data every 15 seconds.

  11. On the screen Where Would You Like The Data To Be Saved?, specify the folder that the data will be saved in, and then click Next.

  12. At the Create The Data Collector Set screen, you can specify a custom account that the data will be collected under.

  13. Select the option Save And Close and then click the Finish button to complete the creation of the data collector set.

    Back in the Exchange Server Performance Monitor tool, the new data collector set that you just created will be shown under the User Defined node.

  14. Right-click on the data collector set and choose Start from the drop-down menu to start collecting the data.

  15. When you are finished collecting the data, you can right-click on the data collector set and choose Stop.

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