An overview of Performance Logs and Alerts in Windows Server 2003's Computer Management Console

The Computer Management Console's Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in allows you to monitor the performance of specific Windows Server 2003 system resources. Here's a look at what you need to know.

The Computer Management Console's Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in allows you to monitor the performance of specific Windows Server 2003 system resources.

The Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in contains two objects -- System Monitor and Performance Logs -- which I will cover in more detail in this tip.

System Monitor

The System Monitor object displays a real-time representation of the counters you select to monitor. The System Monitor does not record any of the monitored items. You can change the counters selected and add them in any combination.

When using the System Monitor, you can display the results as one of the following types:

  • Line: Displays a line graph with each selected counter having its own line running from left to right horizontally.
  • Histogram Bar: Displays each counter as its own bar with a value of 0 to 100.
  • Report: Displays the values of the data dynamically in a dialog box. There are no graphics associated with the Report view.
What are counters?

A counter is an instance of a system property tracked by the System Monitor or logged by performance logging. Counters allow you to add physical representations of dynamic system data one component at a time. Many counters also allow different representations of the data they represent; for example, you can have disk I/O represented as a total or as a percentage.

Follow these steps to add counters to the System Monitor:

  1. Select the System Monitor Object in the left pane of the Computer Management Console.
  2. Right-click anywhere on the graph displayed in the right pane.
  3. Select Add Counters. This will display the Counters dialog box for the local system.
  4. Select the component you wish to view the counters for and then select the Individual Counter and click Add.

For example, you can add one of many counters related to Memory. When you click Memory, the list of available counters appears. Some of these counters have multiple instances. For example, Processor will have more than one instance for each core in a dual core processor; these instances appear in another window when you select a counter.

When you select a counter and the appropriate instance(s) of that counter, click the Add button to add the counter to the System Monitor. When you finish adding counters, click OK to close the dialog box and view the System Monitor with your counters in place.

Performance Logs

The biggest difference between System Monitor and Performance Logs is that you can trigger the Performance Logs events to sample counters at given intervals, whereas the System Monitor runs continuously.

You can store the Performance Logs reports in the following formats:

  • Text file (comma delimited): Stores data in a comma separated values text file.
  • Text file (tab delimited): Stores data in a tab delimited text file.
  • SQL Server: Stores data in a SQL Server database.
  • Binary File: Stores data in a binary file accessible by the Performance Monitor.

The other major difference is that Performance Logs can use counters and traces (instead of counters), but System Monitor can only use counters.

Trace logs log items triggered by events. If you create a trace log, you can configure your trace to monitor occurrences of events for selected properties. This way, any time an event occurs involving the property selected, the trace log records it.

For example, you can monitor events against the NT Kernel on the system. Select the properties to monitor for inclusion in the trace, and then whenever these properties are involved in an event, the trace will log the action.

If you learn to use the logging tools in the Performance Logs and Alerts snap-in, it will help you reduce the amount of time it takes you to find problems in your Windows Server 2003 systems.

Get more information on snap-ins

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