Monitoring Performance and Reliability

Performance and reliability monitoring is useful in several scenarios:

  • Improving the performance of servers by identifying the performance bottleneck and then upgrading the bottlenecked resource.
  • Identifying the source of critical performance problems that make services unusable or completely unavailable.
  • Correlating events, such as application installations, with failures.

Use the buttons below to navigate through the lesson

This lesson describes how to use three tools that provide performance and reliability monitoring: Performance Monitor, Reliability Monitor, and Data Collector Sets.

Performance Monitor

Click the Green plus sign to add counters. Select Processor. Select counters then click Add. Add any further counters. Click OK. The counters have been added. To make it easier to view a specific counter. To make it easier to view a specific counter, select a counter and press Ctrl+H. The output can be viewed in three different ways, this is the Line view. This is the Histogram Bar view. Select Report from the drop down list. The Report view,  Right click Performance Monitor and select Properties. General allows changes to display elements, report and Histogram data and sample intervals.  Select the  Source tab. Source allows you to select data sources Current, Log files or Databases.  Select the Data tab. Data allows you to add or remove counters and change the appearance of counters.  Select the Graph Tab. Graph allows you to change the elements of the graph views.  Select Appearance. Appearance allows you to change Colours, Fonts and Border.  Click OK to close the properties box.

Reliability Monitor

Reliability Monitor tracks a computer’s stability. Computers that have no new software installations or failures are considered stable and can achieve the maximum system stability index of 10. The more installations and failures that occur on a computer, the lower the system stability index drops toward a minimum value of 0.

Reliability Monitor is useful for diagnosing intermittent and long-term problems. For example, if you were to install an application that caused the operating system to fail once a week, it would be very difficult to correlate the failures with the application installation. With Reliability Monitor, you can quickly browse both failures and the application installations over time. If recurring failures begin shortly after an application installation, the two might be related.

The chart at the top of Reliability Monitor shows one data point for each day.

The rows below the chart show icons for successful and unsuccessful software installations, application failures, hardware failures, Windows failures, and other miscellaneous failures.

Click a day to view the day’s details in the System Stability Report below the chart.

Click a day to view the day’s details in the System Stability Report below the chart.

The Reliability Monitor displays data gathered by the Reliability Analysis Component (RAC), which is implemented using RACAgent.exe. RACAgent.exe runs once an hour using a hidden scheduled task.

To view the scheduled task, browse to Configuration\Task Scheduler\Task
Scheduler Library\Microsoft\Windows\RAC. Then click the View menu and select Show Hidden Tasks.

Data Collector Sets

Data Collector Sets gather system information, including configuration settings and performance data, and store it in a data file. You can later use the data file to examine detailed performance data in Performance Monitor or view a report that summarizes the information. Windows Server 2008 includes several built-in Data Collector Sets located at Data Collector Sets\System:

Active Directory Diagnostics Present only on domain controllers, this Data Collector Set logs kernel trace data, Active Directory trace data, performance counters, and Active Directory registry configuration.

LAN Diagnostics Logs network performance counters, network configuration data, and important diagnostics tracing. Use this Data Collector Set when troubleshooting complex network problems, such as network time-outs, poor network performance, or
virtual private network (VPN) connectivity problems.

System Performance Logs processor, disk, memory, and network performance counters and kernel tracing. Use this Data Collector Set when troubleshooting a slow computer or intermittent performance problems.

System Diagnostics Logs all the information included in the System Performance Data Collector Set, plus detailed system information. Use this Data Collector Set when troubleshooting reliability problems such as problematic hardware, driver failures, or Stop errors (also known as blue screens). The report generated by the Data Collector Set provides a summary of error conditions on the system without requiring you to manually browse Event Viewer and Device Manager.

Wireless Diagnostics Present only on computers  with wireless capabilities, this Data Collector Set logs the same information as the LAN Diagnostics Data Collector Set, plus information relevant to troubleshooting wireless network connections. Use this Data Collector Set only when troubleshooting network problems that occur when connected
to a wireless network.

Expand System. To use a Data Collector Set, right-click it, and then choose Start. The System Performance and System Diagnostics Data Collector Sets stop automatically after a minute, the Active Directory Diagnostics Data Collector Set stops automatically after five minutes, and the LAN Diagnostics and Wireless Diagnostics Data Collector Sets run until you stop them.

When you use Performance Monitor, you can see performance counters in real time. Data Collector Sets can record this data so that you can analyze it later in Performance Monitor.
If you either have a performance problem or you want to analyze and possibly improve the performance of a server, you can create a Data Collector Set to gather performance data. However, for the analysis to be useful, you should always create a baseline by logging performance data before you make any changes. Then you can compare the performance before and after your adjustments.

To create a Data Collector Set, right-click User Defined, and then New>Data Collector Set. Create This New Data Collector Set page, type a name for the set. Make sure Create From A Template is selected. Then click Next. On the Which Template Would You Like To Use page, choose from one of the standard templates (which can vary depending on the computer’s configuration) and click Next. On the Where Would You Like The Data To Be Saved page, click Next to accept thedefault location for the data (%SystemDrive%\perflogs\Admin\). On the Create New Data Collector Set page, leave Run As set to <Default> to run it using the current user’s credentials or click the Change button to specify other administrative credentials.  Select one of three options click Finish. To manually start a data collector set, Right click And select Start.

To view the collected data. Select the report. The report is displayed. Note in this report the server is running low on available memory. Time for some more RAM.