Performance Monitor (perfmon) is a powerful program found in all Microsoft servers from NT to Windows Server 2008. I think of Performance Monitor as more of a toolbox than a single gadget. I will let you into a secret, few people REALLY know Performance Monitor, so make a name for yourself and master this box of tricks.
The initial learning steps are steep. To begin with, you can be overwhelmed by the variety options. I have created a whole section dedicated to performance monitoring (left menu). Half the pages are aimed for the beginner, with the emphasis on learning how to use Performance Monitor; while the other half is designed to show you how to use the counters to detect bottlenecks.
The Main Reasons for Performance Monitoring
- Detecting network bottlenecks.
- Troubleshooting latency frustrations.
- Identifying server performance problems.
- Uncovering intermittent faults.
- Planning the capacity of your servers and subnets.
- Setting alerts so that you can nip trouble in the bud.
- Creating baselines when activity is low.
- Understanding the effect of your workload on resources.
Benefits of Performance Monitoring
- Make the best use of resources. (Load balancing)
- Know where the minimum investment will produce the maximum gains. (RAM on response times)
- Understanding what components are actually doing. (Is the Disk mainly reading or writing?)
- Knowledge is power. Set an alert when resources are running low. (Memory: Available bytes less than 10 MB)
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.
Developing your Performance Monitoring skills
There are three parts to learning your performance monitor craft.
1) The art of choosing the best objects and counters
The first skill is in choosing the right objects and the best counters to monitor. To make sure you do not miss a vital clue be methodical and always check the ‘big four’ resource objects, memory, processor, disk and network. I will give tips on how to choose your own counters for your particular circumstances. Incidentally, you can usePowerShell to collect information with Get-Counter.
2) The science of building the log or alert
The scientific techniques are relatively easy to teach. My goal will be to show you the shortest way to create logs and the easiest way of loading the logs into System Monitor. You will also discover that performance monitor has numerous features to make collecting data easier and more profitable.
3) The knack of spotting the crucial trace that is responsible for the problem
Once you have scientifically collected the data, the art comes in interpreting the logs. I have identified three skills which all good performance analysts possess:
- Knowledge of network principles and server components
- Natural talent for spotting something out of the ordinary
- Experience and confidence with performance counters