Windows Server 2003 Performance Monitor – Strategies

Introduction to Performance Monitor Strategies

What have performance monitor and sex education in common?   In both cases teaching the mechanics easily, but in both cases the emotional element is much harder to get across.  Whilst my analogy is imperfect, my point is valid, mastering performance monitor is a higher level art form, whereas, merely adding counters is easy.

Performance Monitor Topics


To get the most from Performance Monitoring, you need a clear goal

To discover a bottleneck, performance monitor will unearth areas of high demand, for example, RAM, Processor, or Disk.  Logging key counters can also anticipate problems, for example imminent disk failure.

Baseline, investigating the impact of services on system resources.  What is the network like at night when no-one is collecting email or querying SQL?  Linked to baseline analysis is capacity planning.  Do you know what would happen if you put another 100 users on that subnet?  No?  Performance monitor will let you play ‘what if..’ games.

Learning about systems, is an unexpected bonus, you cannot help but learn how the operating system works when you measure its performance counters.  For example, insights that database servers use more memory than file and print servers.

Maximising resources, at the very least, performance monitor will give you ideas for load balancing servers.  Analysis may also unearth incorrectly configured resource, for example network cards set at 100 Mps instead of 1000 Mps.  Time spent monitoring existing servers will repay when you are working out the specification for a new machine.

Testing, a double edged sword.  Having a test network to try new configurations will ultimately improve the production network.  Performance monitoring may be the catalyst to commission or strengthen a test network.  Another selling point is that a top specification test network can provide spare machines when a server on the live network needs to be repaired.

PowerShell, you can use PowerShell to collect information with Get-Counter.

Guy Recommends:  A Free Trial of the Network Performance Monitor (NPM)Review of Orion NPM v12 v12

SolarWinds’ Network Performance Monitor will help you discover what’s happening on your network.  This utility will also guide you through troubleshooting; the dashboard will indicate whether the root cause is a broken link, faulty equipment or resource overload.

Perhaps the NPM’s best feature is the way it suggests solutions to network problems.  Its second best feature is the ability to monitor the health of individual VMware virtual machines.  If you are interested in troubleshooting, and creating network maps, then I recommend that you give this Network Performance Monitor a try.

Download your free trial of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor.

Remote Monitoring

When I was a young ‘greenhorn’ on my first job, my findings were initially dismissed because they said that my results were skewed because performance monitor itself was putting a load on the server.  Well, I learnt from that experience and subsequently, I always monitor the servers from my laptop or a spare machine.

Another trap that I fell into was trying to monitor a SQL.  The problem was that there were no SQL specific counters on my laptop, what I had to do was install SQL locally on the machine which was monitoring the live server.

A Parallel Technique to Performance Monitoring is Network Monitoring

Microsoft Network Monitor v3.2 is a tool which captures TCP/IP packets and reveals their source and destination addresses along with detailed information stored in the datagram header.  Network Monitor 3.2 works on all modern Windows operating systems, such as Server 2008, and Vista.

Typical Tasks for Microsoft Network Monitor

Troubleshooting connectivity problems. 
Let us imagine that DNS is not working.  If you capture the appropriate frames with the Network Monitor, you may discover from the destination address that your machine is trying to connect to a non-existent DNS server.

Calculating server response times. 
Each packet has date / time information, thus you can measure response times for conversations between your computer and various servers.  If necessary you could instigate a conversation with ping.

TCP re-transmissions.
A significant number of re-transmissions could indicate an intermittent connection problem.

Identify broadcast traffic.
Broadcast traffic is an old enemy of network managers.  You could use seeking broadcast or multicast traffic as an opportunity learn more about Network Monitor, while you check for a well-known network problem.

Engineer's Toolset v10Guy Recommends: SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset v10

This Engineer’s Toolset v10 provides a comprehensive console of 50 utilities for troubleshooting computer problems.  Guy says it helps me monitor what’s occurring on the network, and each tool teaches me more about how the underlying system operates.

There are so many good gadgets; it’s like having free rein of a sweetshop.  Thankfully the utilities are displayed logically: monitoring, network discovery, diagnostic, and Cisco tools.  Try the SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset now!

Download your fully functional trial copy of the Engineer’s Toolset v10

If you like this page then please share it with your friends


More Help for Detecting Computer Bottlenecks

Download your eBook: The Art and Science of Performance Monitoring  for only $5.25

Performance MonitorLearn the secrets of which counters to monitor.  Master performance monitor logging, develop your skills with structured exercises and examples.   Print out a copy to read, while you design logs and alerts to detect network bottlenecks.