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Overview of Performance Monitoring

System Monitor in Windows 2000 extends the functionality provided by Performance Monitor, which shipped in Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 and Windows NT 3.51. Features of System Monitor include the following:

  • The graph display is much more flexible and configurable. You can modify many attributes of the display, including changing font and color, adding borders, and so on.

  • Counter configuration is simplified. You can now copy counter paths and settings from the System Monitor display to the Clipboard and paste counter paths from Web pages or other sources into the System Monitor display.

  • Graphs can be printed when performance displays are saved as HTML files using the Save As command on the shortcut menu. In addition, you can save reports as tab-separated files (for use with Microsoft Excel) by means of the Save As command. To use the shortcut menu, right-click the details pane of System Monitor.

  • System Monitor is portable. Because System Monitor is hosted in Microsoft Management Console (MMC), you can save a console file containing a group of counters that you want to monitor — you can install it on any other computer and be able to monitor the same types of data on that computer. This is useful in monitoring other systems that you administer.

  • The functionality of System Monitor chart, histogram, and report views is provided by an ActiveX control (Sysmon.ocx). This design gives a user the flexibility of including the control in an HTML page or of programming the control into a Microsoft Office or Microsoft Visual Basic application, as described in Integrating the System Monitor Control into Office and Other Applications later in this chapter. In most cases, you work with the control's functionality in the form it is presented in Perfmon.msc, the Microsoft Management Console component that hosts the performance tools.

For information about logging and alert capabilities of the Performance console, see Performance Logs and Alerts later in this chapter. Windows NT 4.0 Performance Monitor is provided under the name Perfmon4.exe on the Windows 2000 Resource Kit companion CD. Typing perfmon.exe at the command prompt causes the system to start System Monitor, not Performance Monitor.

Starting System Monitor

If you are running Windows 2000 Professional, you can start the Performance console as follows:

On the Administrative Tools menu, click Performance.

– Or –

On the Start menu, click Run , type perfmon.msc , and then click OK .

– Or –

Type perfmon.msc at the Windows command prompt.

When you start the Performance console, a blank System Monitor graph appears. Performance Logs and Alerts appears beneath System Monitor in the console tree, as shown in Figure 27.2.


Figure 27.2 Performance Console

The following section describes the user interface for System Monitor and provides tips on how to use it.

Working with System Monitor

With System Monitor you can create graphs, bar charts (histograms), and text reports of performance counter data. System Monitor is designed for short-term viewing of data, troubleshooting, and diagnosis.

The System Monitor display consists of the following elements:

  • An optional toolbar with capabilities such as copying and pasting counters, clearing counters, adding counters, and so on. The toolbar buttons provide the quickest way of configuring the monitoring display, but you can also use a shortcut menu to add counters and configure properties.

  • The area where counter values are displayed. You can vary the line style, width, and color of these lines. You can also change the color of the window and of the chart within the window.

  • A legend showing the selected counters and associated data such as the computer name, parent object, and instances.

  • A value bar, where you see the last, minimum, maximum, and average values for the counter that is currently selected. The value bar also shows a Duration value that indicates the total elapsed time displayed in the graph (based on the update interval).

  • A timer bar that moves across the graph indicates the passing of each update interval. Regardless of the update interval, the view shows up to 100 samples. System Monitor compresses log data as necessary to fit it in the display. For example, if there are 1,000 samples, the display might show every tenth sample.

You can configure System Monitor using either the toolbar or a shortcut menu. Using the shortcut menu offers more control and flexibility in configuring the display. The following sections describe these different configuration methods. To see procedures and a brief overview of System Monitor, click Help on the System Monitor toolbar.

Using the Toolbar

The toolbar is displayed by default. Using the toolbar, you can configure the following options:

  • Type of display. Use the View Chart , View Histogram , or View Report button.
    Figure 27.3 shows the different display options. Cc961845.fneb01a(en-us,TechNet.10).gif
    Figure 27.3-1 Display Options for System MonitorCc961845.fneb01b(en-us,TechNet.10).gif
    Figure 27.3-2 Display Options for System MonitorCc961845.fneb01c(en-us,TechNet.10).gif
    Figure 27.3-3 Display Options for System Monitor
    Histograms and reports are useful for simplifying graphs with multiple counters. However, they display only a single value, so they are recommended only when you are charting current activity and watching the graphs as they change. When you are reviewing data logged over time, line graphs are much more informative so that trends can be identified.

  • Data source. Click the View Current Activity button for real-time data or the View Log File Data button for data from either a completed or a currently running log.

  • Counters. Use the Add or Delete buttons as needed. You can also use the New Counter Set button to reset the display and select new counters. Clicking the Add button displays the Add Counters dialog box, as shown in Figure 27.4. You can also press the DEL key to delete a counter that is selected in the legend. Cc961845.fneb02(en-us,TechNet.10).gif
    Figure 27.4 Add Counters Dialog Box

  • Data updates. Click Clear Display to clear the displayed data and obtain a fresh data sample for existing counters. To suspend data collection, click Freeze Display . Use the Update Data button to resume collection.

  • Highlighting chart or histogram data. To accentuate the line or bar for a selected counter with white (default) or black (for light backgrounds), click Highlight on the toolbar.

  • Importing or exporting counter settings. To save the displayed configuration to the Clipboard for insertion into a Web page, click Copy Properties . To import counter settings from the Clipboard into the current System Monitor display, click Paste Counter List .

  • Configuring other System Monitor properties. To access colors, fonts, or other settings that have no corresponding button on the toolbar, click Properties .

Using the Shortcut Menu

When you right-click the System Monitor display, a shortcut menu appears with the following options:

  • Add Counters. Use this option in the same way you use the Add button in the toolbar.

  • Save As. Use this if you want to save the current display configuration under a new name. If you click Save on the Console menu, the current settings are stored, overwriting the blank version of Perfmon.msc installed by Windows 2000 Setup and altering the default appearance of the tool.

  • Properties. Click this button to access the five properties tabs that provide options for controlling all aspects of System Monitor data collection and display. The General properties tab appears by default, as shown in Figure 27.5. Cc961845.fneb03(en-us,TechNet.10).gif
    Figure 27.5 General Tab in the System Monitor Properties Dialog Box
    Many properties can be configured from the toolbar, but some are only configurable using System Monitor Properties . Table 27.2 lists property tabs alphabetically by name, along with the attributes they control.

Table 27.2 System Monitor Properties

Use this tab

To add or change this


Background color of results pane surrounding the chart area, color of chart data-display area.
You can choose each color from a palette (in the Property Name list box) or you can base the colors on system colors (screen elements) defined using the Display icon in Control Panel. When using the palette, note the following:
BackColorCtl refers to the area surrounding the chart.
BackColor refers to the chart data-display area.
ForeColor refers to the color of the text in the display and legend.


Grid color, timer bar color.


Color, width, style, or chart line.
Notice that defining a nondefault line width limits the line styles that are available. Styles can be selected only when you are using the default line width.


Scale of counter data values.
Counter values can be scaled exponentially from .0000001 to 1000000. You might want to adjust the counter scale settings to enhance the visibility of counter data in the chart. Changing the scale does not affect the statistics displayed in the value bar.


Objects, counters, and instances.


Font type, size, and style.


View type: chart, histogram, or report.


Update frequency and manual or periodic sampling.


Histogram or report value type (choose between minimum, maximum, average values for the one displayed in a report view).
Using report value types other than Current when monitoring real-time data incurs substantial overhead because of the need to make calculations across all samples for each value displayed.


Display of counter legend.


Display of last, minimum, and maximum values for a selected counter (the value bar).


Border style, appearance of the entire control. You can include or omit a border, or configure three-dimensional or flat effects for the window.


Display of toolbar.


Display of instance indexes (for monitoring multiple instances of a counter).
The first instance (instance number 0) displays no index; System Monitor numbers subsequent instances starting with 1.
Note: You need to select duplicate instances individually in the Add Counters dialog box in order to collect data from those instances. If you select All instances while adding counters to a counter log or a System Monitor view, duplicate instances are not added to the log settings or to the view legend. This is true even if the Allow duplicate counter instances option is selected in General properties for System Monitor.


Title of graph.


Label on value axis, vertical or horizontal grid lines, and upper and lower limits of graph axes.


Source of data displayed: current data input to the graph, current or archived data input from a log.


Time range for a log and view time range.

Getting the Most from System Monitor

Windows 2000 Professional online Help for System Monitor explains how to perform common tasks. The following list supplements the information provided in online Help to enable you to use System Monitor more effectively.

  • Print data. You can print performance data in several ways:

    • Copy the current view to the Clipboard (by pressing ALT+PRINT SCREEN), start a paint program, paste in the image from the Clipboard, and then print it.

    • Add the System Monitor control to a Microsoft Office application such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel, configure it to display data, and then print from that program. For information about this process, see Integrating the System Monitor Control into Office and Other Applications later in this chapter.

    • Save the System Monitor control as an HTML file by right-clicking the details pane of System Monitor and typing a file name for the HTML file to be created. You can then open the HTML file and print it from Microsoft Internet Explorer or another program.

    • Import a log file in comma-separated (.csv) or tab-separated (.tsv) format into an Excel spreadsheet and print from that application.

  • Learn about individual counters. When adding counters, if you click Explain in the Add Counters dialog box for System Monitor or Performance Logs and Alerts , you can view counter descriptions.

  • Vary the data displayed in a report. By default, reports display only one value for each counter. This is current data if the data source is real-time activity, or averaged data if the source is a log. However, using the General properties tab, you can configure the report display to show different values, such as the maximum, minimum, and so on. Notice that monitoring the nondefault value for a report can increase performance-monitoring overhead.

  • Arrange items in the legend. To sort entries in ascending or descending order for that category, click Object , Counter , Instance , or Computer in the counter legend. For example, to sort all counters by name, click Counter .

  • Select a group of counters or counter instances to monitor.

    • To select all counters or instances, click All counters or All instances .

    • To select specific counters or instances, click Select counters from the list or Select instances from the list .

    • To monitor a group of consecutive counters or instances in a list box, hold down the SHIFT key and scroll down through the items in the list box.

    • To select multiple, nonconsecutive counters or instances, select the item and press CTRL.

    Monitoring large numbers of counters can incur a high amount of overhead, even to the point of making the system unresponsive to keyboard or mouse input. To reduce this burden, display data in report view when collecting from large numbers of counters or direct data to a binary log, and view the data in System Monitor as it is being written to the log.

  • Simplify detailed graphs. You can maintain two separate instances of System Monitor if you want to monitor a large number of counters while keeping each graph relatively simple and uncluttered. It is also a good way to compare data from different sources.

  • Track totals for all instances of a counter. Instead of monitoring individual instances for a selected counter, you can instead use the Total instance, which sums all instances' values and reports them in System Monitor.

  • Pinpoint a specific counter from lines in a graph. To match a line in a graph with the counter for which it is charting values, double-click a position in the line. If chart lines are close together, try to find a point in the graph where they diverge.

  • Accentuate a specific counter's data. To draw attention to a particular counter's data, use the highlighting feature. To do so, press CTRL+H or click Highlight on the toolbar. For the counter selected, a thick line replaces the colored chart line. For white or light-colored backgrounds (defined by the BackColor property), this line is black; for other backgrounds, this line is white.

  • View data from a running log. If you are working with a log file that is currently collecting data, you need to click the Select Time Range button and keep moving the Time Range bar to the right to update the display with new samples.

  • Use Windows NT 4.0 settings files. You can display legacy alert, report, chart, and log settings files in System Monitor by using the following command at the command prompt:
    When you open one of these settings files, the system temporarily converts the file for use with System Monitor but discards the converted version after the console starts. If you want to save the settings file for permanent use with System Monitor, type the following command:
    perfmon.exe /HTMLFILE: new_file_namesettings_file_name