Windows Server 2012 : Comprehensive Performance Analysis and Logging (part 4) - Comprehensive performance monitoring - Choosing views and controlling the display

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Choosing views and controlling the display

Performance Monitor can present counter statistics in several ways. By default, it graphs the statistics. A graph is useful when you are tracking a limited number of counters because you can view historical data for each counter that you are working with. By default, Performance Monitor samples the counters once every second and updates the graph over a 100-second duration. This means at any given time there can be up to 100 seconds’ worth of data on the graph. If you change the sample interval and duration, you can get more information into the chart. For example, if you set the sample interval to once every 10 seconds and the duration to 1000 seconds, you can get up to 1000 seconds’ (or about 17 minutes’) worth of data on the graph.

You can set the sample interval by using the General tab of the Performance Monitor Properties dialog box, as shown in Figure 10. To open this dialog box, press and hold or right-click the Performance Monitor node and select Properties. Then set the sample interval and duration using the Sample Every and Duration text boxes.

Configure the display properties.
Figure 10. Configure the display properties.

The options on the Display Elements panel on the General tab of the Performance Monitor Properties dialog box control the availability of the Legend, Value Bar, and Toolbar. The Legend is displayed at the bottom of the details pane, and it shows the color and line style that are used for each counter. The Value Bar is displayed between the graph and the legend. It shows values related to the counter you selected in the graph or in the legend. The Toolbar is displayed above the graph and provides the basic toolbar functions for working with Performance Monitor. You might find that it is much easier to use the shortcut keys than to tap or click the Toolbar buttons. The Toolbar buttons and their shortcut keys are as follows:

  • View Current Activity Ctrl+T; switches the view so that current activity being logged is displayed.

  • View Log Data Ctrl+L; switches the view so that data from a performance log can be replayed.

  • Change Graph Type Ctrl+G; switches the view to toggle among bar graph, report list, and graph format.

  • Add Ctrl+I; displays the Add Counter dialog box, which lets you add counters to track.

  • Delete Delete key; removes the counter so that it is no longer tracked.

  • Highlight Ctrl+H; highlights the counter using a white line so that it is easier to see. Highlighting works best with graphs. If you want to turn the Highlight function off, press Ctrl+H again.

  • Copy Properties Ctrl+C; creates a copy of the counter list along with the individual configuration of each counter, and puts it on the Windows Clipboard. The information is formatted as an extensible markup language (XML) file. If you open a text editor, you could paste in this information and save it for later use.

  • Paste Counter List Ctrl+V; pastes a copied counter list into Performance Monitor so that it is used as the current counter set. If you saved a counter list to a file, you simply open the file, copy the contents of the file to the Clipboard, and then press Ctrl+V in Performance Monitor to use that counter list.

    Save the counter list, or use it on different computers

    You can use the Copy and Paste commands to track the same set of counters quickly and easily at a later date or to use the set on other computers. Press Ctrl+C to copy the counter list and save it to a file. Then you or someone else could access the counter list when you want to use the same setup again. You could also paste the counter list into an email message so that it could be sent to someone who wants to use the same counter list.

  • Properties Ctrl+Q; displays the Properties dialog box for a select item.

  • Freeze Display Ctrl+F; freezes the display so that Performance Monitor no longer updates the performance information. Press Ctrl+F a second time to resume sampling.

  • Update Data Ctrl+U; updates the display by one sampling interval. When you freeze the display, Performance Monitor still gathers performance information; it just doesn’t update the display using the new information. If you want to update the display while it is frozen, use this option.

  • Help F1; displays the Performance Monitor Help information.

The Histogram Bar and Report views deserve a bit of additional discussion. In the Histogram Bar view, Performance Monitor represents the performance information by using a bar graph with the last sampling value for each counter displayed on an individual bar within the graph. The sizes of the bars within the graph are adjusted automatically based on the number of performance counters being tracked and can be adjusted to accommodate hundreds of counters. That is, in fact, the biggest advantage of the histogram—it allows you to track a lot of counters more easily. In Figure 11, approximately 100 counters are being tracked, and it is easy to pick out which counter is which.

The histogram view enables you to easily track counters using bar graphs.
Figure 11. The histogram view enables you to easily track counters using bar graphs.

In the Report view, shown in Figure 12, Performance Monitor represents the performance information by using a report list format. In this view, objects and their counters are listed in alphabetical order. Current values are displayed rather than being graphed. If you are trying to determine specific performance values for many different counters, this is the best view to use because the actual values are always shown.

Report view gives users performance information as specific values rather than using graphs or charts.
Figure 12. Report view gives users performance information as specific values rather than using graphs or charts.

Monitoring performance remotely

Monitoring performance on the computer for which you are trying to establish a baseline can skew the results. The reason for this is that Performance Monitor uses resources when it is running, particularly when you are graphing performance information, taking frequent samples, or tracking many performance counters. To remove the resource burden (or at least most of it), you should consider monitoring performance remotely. Here, you use one computer to monitor the performance of another computer. Although this does generate some extra network traffic, you’ll get more accurate results for the monitored computer because you’re not using its resources for monitoring.


By default, only administrators can monitor performance remotely. 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. When you use performance logging, you need to be at least a member of the Performance Log Users group in the domain or the local computer to work with performance logs on remote computers.

Configure remote monitoring

You can use any computer running current editions of Windows or Windows Server to perform remote monitoring, and that computer can monitor any other computer running current editions of Windows or Windows Server. The only exceptions are for nonbusiness editions of Windows. The computer you are using for monitoring can even monitor multiple computers.

To begin remote monitoring, select the Performance Monitor node in the Performance Monitor console or in Computer Management. To start with a new counter set and clear out any existing counters, select a counter entry in the lower portion of the details pane, press Ctrl+A and press the Delete key. Press Ctrl+I to open the Add Counters dialog box. In the Add Counters dialog box, type the Universal Naming Code (UNC) name or Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computer you want to monitor remotely in the Select Counters From Computer text box. A UNC computer name or IP address begins with two back slashes (\\). So, for instance, you could type \\CorpServer03 or \\

After you type the UNC computer name or IP address, press Tab or tap or click the Performance Object list. When you do this, Performance Monitor will attempt to connect to the remote computer and retrieve a list of available performance objects to monitor. You can then choose performance objects and counters to track just as you would for a local computer.

TROUBLESHOOTING: Try the IP address if you can’t connect

Performance Monitor should be able to find any computer in any trusted domain of your organization’s forest. Sometimes, however, it isn’t able to do this and returns an error. If this happens, ensure that you entered the correct computer name. If you did and you still get an error, try entering the UNC path with the computer’s IP address. Using an IP address saves Performance Monitor from having to perform a DNS lookup to resolve the computer’s name to its IP address.

Compare performance of multiple systems
The Legend area shows the associated UNC computer name or IP address for each performance counter you are tracking. If you want to see how performance compares on different computers, use your monitoring computer to track the same performance counters on these computers. You can then make direct comparisons of how these computers perform relative to each other.
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