SQL Server 2008 : Monitoring Your Server - Familiarizing Yourself with the Performance Monitor

2/28/2011 9:58:56 AM
Performance monitor is a graphical tool that comes with Microsoft operating systems to monitor different activity of the system. Performance monitor is divided into two basic parts: the system monitor and performance logs and alerts. The System Monitor section provides realtime statistics on system activity in a graph, histogram, or report format. The Performance Logs and Alerts section allows you to store information about the activity on your system and set alerts to fire after surpassing your defined thresholds.

There are multiple methods of launching the performance monitor. You can navigate to the Administrative Tools folder from the Control Panel or Start menu, and then select Performance. Or you can go to the Start menu, select Run, and then type perfmon. Once the application launches, you will see a graph with the default counters displayed, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The default counters displayed within the performance monitor

After you launch the application, there are two options that you need to be familiar with: Add (represented by a plus sign on the toolbar) and Highlight (represented by a yellow light bulb on the toolbar).

The Add option is important because it allows you to increase the number of counters that you can monitor. Once you click on the plus sign or Add option, the Add Counters dialog box will launch (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. The performance monitor Add Counters dialog

After reviewing Figure 14-2, you should notice that you have multiple options to choose from when adding counters. You can determine the source of the counters that you want to add. Next, you have to decide which object you want to add counters from. After you select an object, you can determine if you want all counters for the object or if you want to select specific objects from the list. Lastly, where it applies, you can select the instance of the counter that you want to capture. Whatever you do, don't forget about the Explain button, which gives you a brief description of the selected counter. That will definitely help you sort out the meaning of the numerous counters that exist. Once you decide on the counter you want, click on the Add button, and it will populate the graph, histogram, or report.

As you familiarize yourself with the performance monitor, you will add a large number of counters to your graph simultaneously. When you reach that point, it will become increasingly challenging to identify the values of each counter. That's where the Highlight option comes into play. The Highlight option lets you to quickly determine the values of the counters by highlighting them on the display (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. A highlighted counter in the performance monitor

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