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There are many tools available to users trying to troubleshoot a poorly performing Windows 10 PC. Whether it is hacking Power Settings, running the Windows 10 Assessment Tool, or replacing an old rogue driver, there are typically several ways to squeeze better performance out of just about any computer.

However, determining what exactly can be tweaked, hacked, adjusted, and replaced requires careful and often detailed analysis. For many users, the staple application they turn to for troubleshooting in Microsoft Windows 10 is the Performance Monitor, which has been part of the OS since 1993. Although its interface remains familiar, the Performance Monitor has been updated for Windows 10 to include more detailed measurements.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to open the Windows 10 Performance Monitor and use it to track the performance of various components inside your computer.

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Track components and improve performance with Performance Monitor

Performance Monitor is buried deep inside the Windows 10 operating system and is not accessible via Control Panel menus. To open the application, type “performance monitor” into the search box on the Windows 10 desktop and then select the correct result. Alternatively, you may use the direct approach and press Windows Key + R to open the run dialog box, type “perfmon” and then press the OK button.

Either method will open Performance Monitor to display an overview of your computer’s performance, as shown in Figure A. As you can see, components like CPU, network adapter, RAM, and disk drive are being monitored.

Figure A

The left-hand navigation bar shows a hierarchy of items located under three main headings: Monitoring Tools, Data Collector Sets, and Reports. Click on Monitoring Tools and then select Performance Monitor. The app will immediately begin tracking CPU usage information (Figure B), the default counter setting.

Figure B

To add counters to the Performance Monitor, click the green plus button to open the Add Counters screen, shown in Figure C.

Figure C

As you can see, there are many counters to choose from in the list. Double-clicking the counters listed will reveal more detail. Some of the counters may be for components, services, and apps you didn’t know were running in the background of your PC.

Click on the counter(s) you want to add to your monitor screen and then click the Add>> button. Click OK when you are finished.

Performance Monitor will now start tracking your selected counters. As you can see in Figure D, the more counters you choose the more chaotic the graph will seem.

Figure D

You can check and uncheck counters from the legend below the graph to control just which counters are on display, but the best approach may be to limit your selections to just a few related counters at a time.

There is also a highlight button, which allows you to select a specific counter and highlight it in the graph, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

A modern Performance Monitor in preview

The basic operation of the Performance Monitor has not changed much since it was first introduced in 1993. However, it seems Microsoft does plan to revise and modernize the app for a future version of Windows 10. A preview version of the new Performance Monitor is available as part of the Windows Admin Center.

You can download the new version and try it for yourself. But a word of warning, the new preview version of the Performance Monitor failed to connect when I used it, so it is definitely still in preview status. Try it at your own risk.