Software

How to build a custom MMC to create a flexible ReadyBoost monitor

A custom Microsoft Management Console offers a convenient way to keep an eye on ReadyBoost performance. This illustrated walk-through will show you how to set it up.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/domoyega

In last week's article, How to monitor ReadyBoost performance in Windows 10, I showed you how to use Resource Monitor and Performance Monitor to keep track of ReadyBoost performance. As I explained, while Resource Monitor shows that ReadyBoost is actively writing and reading data from its cache, you can get more concrete data with Performance Monitor. Performance Monitor provides a set of 10 counters designed to allow you to monitor the ReadyBoost cache.

When you add all of them at the same time, it can be a bit confusing, but you can make it easier to target ReadyBoost performance gains by narrowing down the counters to just four: Cache Reads Bytes/Sec, Cache Reads/Sec, Skipped Reads/Sec, and Skipped Reads Bytes/Sec. The first two counters will help you see how much data is being delivered from the cache. The second two counters show how often ReadyBoost is deferring to the hard disk for reading data from the cache.

As I continue my exploration of ReadyBoost performance in Windows 10, I have occasionally wanted to examine some of the other ReadyBoost counters. I've also become frustrated with the way Performance Monitor works.

I then recalled a technique I learned a long time ago that will allow you to create a customized version of Performance Monitor via the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). Doing so provides a lot of advantages over using the default tool. For instance, you can create multiple views in a single console (or user interface) and you can save your configuration, making it easy to use again and again. Overall, using a customized version of Performance Monitor via MMC provides a more focused approach to any monitoring operation. Let's take a closer look.

SEE: How to get started with Windows Deployment Services

Planning

One of the things I wanted to be able to do was easily examine some of the other ReadyBoost counters. I also found myself switching the Graph Type from Line to Histogram Bar. Therefore, as I was planning my customized version of Performance Monitor, I decided that I wanted to create at least three views: One showing my four counters as a Histogram Bar, one showing my four counters as a Line graph, and one containing counters that indicate the size of the cache: Bytes Cached, Cache Space Used, and Total Cache Size Bytes. Once you create your console shell, you can add these views as well as views containing any counters you decide you want to keep tabs on. Table A lists and describes the 10 ReadyBoost counters.

Table A

Table A

Creating the console shell

To begin creating your custom ReadyBoost monitoring tool, press [Windows]+R, type mmc in the Open text box, and press [Enter]. When you do, you'll encounter a User Account Control prompt and will need to click Yes.

When you see the empty console, pull down the File menu, select the Save command, and name the console ReadyBoostMonitor.msc. Click the Save button and then right-click on the Console Root folder and select Rename. Name the folder ReadyBoost Monitor. Your console will look like the one in Figure A.

Figure A

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You now have the shell for your custom ReadyBoost Monitor.

Now pull down the File menu and select the Add/Remove Snap-in command. The Add Or Remove Snap-ins dialog box will appear (Figure B). By default, the ActiveX Control snap-in will be selected in the Available Snap-ins panel and the ReadyBoost Monitor will appear in the Selected Snap-ins panel

Figure B

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You'll add the ActiveX Control snap-in to the ReadyBoost Monitor.

To continue, click the Add button to launch the Insert ActiveX Control wizard. When you see the Welcome page, just click Next. In the Control Category And Type page, select Embedable Objects from the Control Category dropdown list. Scroll through the Control Type list and select System Monitor Control, as shown in Figure C. Then, click Next.

Figure C

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When the Control Category And Type page appears, select System Monitor Control from the Control Type list.

On the last page of the Insert ActiveX Control wizard, type Histogram Bar in the text box, as shown in Figure D, and click Finish.

Figure D

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You'll name the first one Histogram Bar.

When you return to the Add Or Remove Snap-ins dialog box, you'll repeat these steps to launch the Insert ActiveX Control Wizard and access the System Monitor Control one more time. Only this time through, you'll name the control Line Graph.

After you return to the Add Or Remove Snap-ins dialog box for the third time, repeat the steps and name the control Cache Size. Now, close the Add Or Remove Snap-ins dialog box. At this point, your custom ReadyBoost Monitor console should look like the one shown in Figure E. Before you continue, press [Ctrl]+S to save the console.

Figure E

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The shell of the ReadyBoost Monitor console is complete.

SEE: Is ReadyBoost still an effective tool in Windows 10?

Once you've created your custom ReadyBoost Monitor console, you're ready to add the counters that will allow you to track ReadyBoost usage. To do so, select one of the consoles on the left. When the Performance Monitor view appears, click the Add icon (green +) to open the Add Counters dialog box. Locate and select the ReadyBoost Cache header and select the appropriate counters. Then click the Add button to place the counters in the Added Counters section, as shown in Figure F, and click OK. Again, be sure to press [Ctrl]+S to save the console.

Figure F

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You'll add the appropriate counters to each of your views.

Repeat these steps to add counters to each of the other System Monitor Controls, pressing [Ctrl]+S to save the console as you go.

I added the Cache Reads Bytes/Sec, Cache Reads/Sec, Skipped Reads/Sec, and Skipped Reads Bytes/Sec counters to the Histogram Bar and Line Graph views. I then added the Bytes Cached, Cache Space Used, and Total Cache Size Bytes counters to the Size view.

As you use your system, you can now switch to your ReadyBoost Monitor and check on ReadyBoost's activity by clicking on each view in the console, as shown in Figure G. Best of all, you can close your ReadyBoost Monitor and open it later, and all your customized views will still be there and ready to use whenever you are.

Figure G

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You can access any of the views in the ReadyBoost Monitor

What's your take?

Have you tried monitoring ReadyBoost activity? Are you satisfied with the results? Share your thoughts and findings with fellow TechRepublic members.

More Windows how-to's...

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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