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Using and Monitoring Counters

As you can see from the series of counters included in Windows XP Professional, the Performance Monitor can actively track the performance of many aspects of a system performance. These object types relate to actual devices, sections of memory, or processes. Objects contain items known as counters. These counters are the specific items to be measured using Performance Monitor. For example, under the Processor object, a counter called % Processor Time is used to monitor the percentage amount of total processor time that is being used by the system.

Object types also can have several instances. Instances do not already appear as objects per se, but object types such as the Processor object have an instance for each processor in a workstation or server. Instances represent an individual object out of multiple objects of the same type. Other object types (for example, the memory object type) do not have any instances.

To begin monitoring performance on a Windows XP-based system, you need to add counters to monitor system performance. You'll see that adding counters is identical, no matter which of the three views in Performance Monitor are being used. To add counters in Performance Monitor, do the following:

  1. Launch Performance Monitor from either the command line or from within Control Panel in Windows XP Professional.

  2. Select the view you want to display by clicking one of the four view buttons on the toolbar.

  3. From the Performance Monitor menu, select the + sign to see the Add Counters dialog box. One of the major differences between Windows 2000 and Windows XP is that the latter adds a counter to each view when selected; in previous versions, the object:counter relationships needed to be redefined. Figure 2 shows an example of the Add Counters dialog box.

    Figure 2 Using the Add Counters dialog box for adding counters and objects.

    The Computer box displays the computer that Performance Monitor is tracking. The Object item in the dialog box is a drop-down list displaying the entire series of object types currently available on the system.

  4. Select the object type for which you want to see counters.

  5. In the Counter list, select a counter you want to track. If you are unsure of what a counter does, and you want more information on the specific object:counter relationship, select the counter, and click once on the Explain button.

    The Explain button defines the purpose of the counter. The Explain dialog box is also detached from the main dialog box as well, which makes it possible to move and copy the definition for use by other members of your team in learning how object:counter relationships work.

  6. If multiple objects exist in the Instance list, select the instance of the object you want to monitor.

  7. Click Done after you have added all of the counters you want to monitor.

    The Add To window closes.

  8. Be sure to save these settings as an MMC file so the counters are accessible across all views in Performance Monitor.

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