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FAQ: Windows Server 2008 R2 performance monitoring

Windows Server 2008 R2 is Microsoft's first 64-bit-only server operating system (OS), and it has attracted widespread attention for its much-anticipated capabilities and features. As solutions providers, monitoring performance for Windows Server 2008 R2 is an important service that your customers will expect you to know about. In this FAQ, Windows Server expert Jason Kappel answers frequently asked questions about the new server OS and provides information on key performance monitoring features. Kappel also discusses the benefits of using the Windows Performance and Reliability Monitor, gives steps for monitoring specific system activity and more.

Listen to Jason Kappel answer other frequently asked questions about Windows Server 2008 R2 performance reports in this FAQ podcast or read a transcribed version.

What are the key features that solutions providers can use to monitor performance in Windows Server 2008 R2?
What are the benefits of using the Windows Performance and Reliability Monitor?
How can solutions providers monitor specific system activity using the Performance and Reliability Monitor?
How can solutions providers create a data collector set from the Performance and Reliability Monitor?
More resources on Windows Server 2008 R2 features
About the expert

What are the key features that solutions providers can use to monitor performance in Windows Server 2008 R2?

Windows Server 2008 R2 comes with a revamped version of Perfmon, which is now called Performance and Reliability Monitor. The Performance and Reliability Monitor still has the ability to look at performance counters, but it consolidates some of the older standalone tools and has several new features. These new features include:

  • Data collector sets -- Data collector sets are used to create a reusable monitoring object for different scenarios, such as creating baselines.
  • Wizards and templates for creating logs -- The performance logs and alerts features have been rolled into the Performance and Reliability Monitor. Microsoft has also added a set of wizards that help you add counters to log files and give you the ability to set the start, stop and duration of those counters.
  • Resource View -- In earlier versions of Windows, if you wanted to take a real-time view of your customers' CPU, disk, network and memory usage, you had to use Task Manager -- and the data was only available for a limited time. The Performance and Reliability Monitor has the Resource View screen for viewing those functions, and it also has the ability to drill down and see which processes are using which resources.
  • Reliability Monitor -- The Reliability Monitor collects data about your system and calculates what Microsoft calls a System Stability Index. The System Stability Index report shows any issues that have made the system less reliable over a period of time. The report also contains steps you can take to help troubleshoot the root cause of the issue.
  • Unified property configuration -- The interface for creating a monitoring action is the same whether you create a log activity or a data collector set. The ability to create and manage objects from a single location significantly reduces the time it takes to set up the monitoring that your customers require.
  • Diagnostic reports -- With the Performance and Reliability Monitor, there are a number of out-of-the-box reports that you can view to help analyze and troubleshoot your customers' systems.

What are the benefits of using the Windows Performance and Reliability Monitor?

With previous versions of Windows, the above features either didn't exist or were a standalone tool that couldn't integrate with other tools. With the Performance and Reliability Monitor, you can monitor, troubleshoot and diagnose issues that are occurring, or might occur, from a single location. A great example of this is if you want to figure out what a process is doing. In the past, you would look at Task Manager, but you would only get a very high-level view. By using the Resource View in the Performance and Reliability Monitor, you can drill into what a specific process is doing, and, if needed, stop a process that's using a lot of resources.

How can solutions providers monitor specific system activity using the Performance and Reliability Monitor?

  • To monitor specific activity on your 2008 system, log on as either an administrator or a user that is a member of the Performance Log Users Group and has the "Log on as a batch job" user right assigned.
  • Start the Windows Performance Monitor by clicking on Start, Administrator Tools, Performance Monitor.
  • Once the Performance and Reliability Monitor starts, expand Monitoring Tools and click on Performance Monitor.
  • Now add the performance counters that you want to look at. For this example, let's add a couple of counters about memory. To add a counter, right click anywhere inside the graph area and choose Add counters.
  • Make sure the Select Counter from Computer is set to Local Computer.
  • Scroll to find the memory section and click on the + to expand memory.
  • Select % Committed Bytes in Use and Page Faults/sec. You can hold the CTRL key on your keyboard while clicking on monitors to select more than one object at a time.
  • Click Add and OK. You should now be at the graph screen, and your selected counters should appear in different colors.

How can solutions providers create a data collector set from the Performance and Reliability Monitor?

  • To create a data collector set in the Performance and Reliability Monitor on your 2008 system, you should again log on as either an administrator or a user that is a member of the Performance Log Users Group and has the "Log on as a batch job" user right assigned. If you are going to use the Windows kernel trace provider, you'll need to be logged on as an administrator.
  • Start the Windows Performance Monitor by clicking on Start, Administrator Tools, Performance Monitor.
  • Follow the steps in the above question (on monitoring specific system activity using Performance and Reliability Monitor) to add the performance counters that you would like to be part of this data collect set.
  • Once you've added all of your counters, right click on Performance Monitor in the navigation pane and choose New, Data Collector Set.
  • Enter a name for your data collector set and click on Next.
  • Choose the path that you would like to save your data collector set to, or choose the default, and click on Next.
  • Choose who you would like this data collector set to run as and if you would like the data collector set to start now.
  • Click Finish.
  • Expand data collector sets, then expand user Defined. You will see your data collector set listed.

More resources on Windows Server 2008 R2 features

Windows Server 2008 R2 feature overview
Top 10 Windows Server 2008 features
Windows Server 2008 R2 new features
Windows Server 2008 R2 features
Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 preview
Windows Server 2008 R2 screenshots
Windows Server 2008 R2 preview

About the expert
Jason Kappel is an infrastructure architect and virtualization expert at
Avanade Inc. He specializes in enterprise infrastructure and data center optimization, virtualization and systems management. He has worked with some of the largest companies in the world to implement green data center solutions and has implemented several multinational server and desktop virtualization systems.


This was first published in November 2009

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