Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Microsoft Servers

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Performance Monitor

Performance Monitor is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in. To invoke this tool, select Start, Programs, Administrative Tools, Performance. Alternatively, you can invoke Performance Monitor by selecting Start, Run and inputting Performance Monitor in the Open text box, and then pressing Enter. Win2K's Performance Monitor provides the following features to monitor and analyze your server's performance:

  • Real-time performance monitoring in chart, reporting, or histogram mode lets you highlight a counter on the Performance Monitor screen and press Ctrl+H, which highlights the current counter selection on your screen. After you perform this action, as you scroll through the counters, Performance Monitor highlights in the associated graph each counter as you select it. When you're displaying multiple counters on the GUI, this feature helps denote which counter is doing what. (The Backspace key doesn't provide this functionality as it did in NT 4.0.)

  • Trace logs provide an advanced mechanism to analyze your system. Third-party tools usually leverage this feature.

  • Counter logs let you log performance data at a designated interval for local or remote Win2K systems.

In addition to these monitoring tools, Performance Monitor provides enhanced functionality: Alerts let you generate an action (for example, run a command or script) based on the counter value thresholds that you set in Performance Monitor. In addition, all your settings move with you from one reporting mode to another reporting mode. When you start Performance Monitor, the tool recalls your last settings. Thus, you don't have to save your default settings to a .pwm file and recall them to begin analyzing your system. These setting are system-based, so the next person who logs in will see the view that you left. The new tool offers more flexibility in how you store the data that Performance Monitor generates (for example, you can store data as HTML, binary, .csv, .tsv, and binary circular) than previous versions offered. You can start and stop performance logging based on a date/time group. You can automatically start another copy of the tools based on Performance Monitor events that you configure on your system. Finally, the new tool has a friendlier mechanism to simultaneously collect performance data from multiple servers.

Although NT 4.0 provides some of this functionality (if you install tools from the Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit), Win2K provides these features in an integrated, friendlier tool that saves you the extra step of loading additional resource kit tools. In addition, Win2K's Performance Monitor can't read performance logs that you generate with NT's Performance Monitor.

Performance Monitor in the Real World

To find details about the basic mechanics of using Win2K's Performance Monitor, click About Performance Monitor in the tool's Help menu. This file provides helpful information and useful directions.

The following scenarios show you how to leverage Performance Monitor's capabilities. To take full advantage of Performance Monitor's functionality, you must activate all your system's performance counters. For information about how to activate these counters in Win2K, see the sidebar at the end of this article, "Activating All Performance Counters."

By default, Windows 2000 (Win2K) doesn't activate two of the core performance counters-network and logical disk monitoring. If you don't activate these counters, half of your performance tuning and sizing puzzle will be missing, which makes analyzing your system's performance extra challenging. If you're concerned about a performance-related problem, you need all the help you can get!

To activate Win2K Performance Monitor's network counters, install SNMP and Network Monitor services by clicking Add Networking Components in the Network and Dial-Up Services Control Panel applet. Next, select Management and Monitoring Tools.

By default, Win2K starts the physical hard disk counters. You can use the Diskperf command at a command prompt to control which disk counters are on or off. For more information about the Diskperf command options, type

diskperf -?

at the command prompt. If you want to activate both the logical and physical hard disk counters, run

diskperf -y

from the command line. You must reboot your system to activate these counters. In addition, you can use the Diskperf commands to start disk counters on remote systems, if you have the proper administrative privileges.

General performance monitoring. When you start Performance Monitor, the tool presents you with the default Performance window, which Figure 1 shows. 

Figure 1

To add any combination of counters to the right display pane, click the plus (+) button in the toolbar at the top of the right display pane. Table 1 outlines the minimum counters that you should monitor for general performance monitoring. When you're examining specific resources, include the appropriate counters for analyzing that area.

Table 1 Key Performance Metrics to Monitor



Reason to Monitor

PhysicalDisk and LogicalDisk

Disk Transfers/sec (all instances)

On average, a modern SCSI hard disk can support about 80 to 100 transfers per second before its response time erodes past an acceptable limit.


Avg. Disk sec/Transfer (all instances)

These counters measure the time required to complete a read or write transaction. Developing your performance baseline and comparing it with this value shows whether your disk subsystem is running faster or slower than usual.


Avg. Disk Queue Length (all instances)

If these counters' values are greater than 2 on one drive, you might have a disk-bottleneck problem. For RAID arrays, if the LogicalDisk Average Disk Queue Length is greater than twice the number of disks in the array, you have a disk bottleneck.



If this value is high (that is, a high value for Pages/sec is relative to your system) for consistent periods of time (longer than 5 minutes), and if the physical disk where your pagefile resides is experiencing a high workload, you have a memory bottleneck. On a lightly loaded server, a Pages/sec value of 20 is high. On a workstation, a value of 4 might be high. Baseline your environment, and watch closely for a dramatic increase in this counter, increased disk activity on the disk that contains your pagefile, the pagefile usage size, and low available memory bytes.


Available Bytes

This counter shows the amount of RAM still available. You want your system to use all its RAM, but if this counter consistently drops below 4MB, you need more RAM.

 Paging File

% Usage (all instances)

These values are helpful in assessing whether you have a memory problem. If Pages/sec increases and the pagefile grows, your system is running low on memory.


% Processor Time

This counter tracks CPU usage. If this value is consistently greater than 90 percent and the system work queue is greater than 2 overtime, you have a CPU bottleneck.


Processor Queue Length

One queue exists for processor time even on systems with multiple CPUs. This counter measures the number of threads in the queue that are ready for execution. If this value is greater than 2 for a single-CPU system (or twice the number of CPUs in a multi-CPU system) and the processor usage is greater than 90 percent, you probably have a CPU bottleneck.

Network Interface

Bytes Total/sec

This counter lets you isolate performance-related network problems. If this value is greater than 50 percent of its network medium, a network bottleneck is forming.

In the Performance window, you can quickly change from among chart, report, or histogram views by selecting the appropriate icon below the Performance Monitor's menu bar. Figure 1 shows an example of the report view. You can view the performance of a remote server by clicking the + button, selecting the Select Counters from Computer option, and entering the remote computer's name using the Uniform Naming Convention (UNC) format. (Performance Monitor enters the name of the local computer, by default.) You must have administrative rights on the remote system that you want to monitor.

Long-term performance analysis. What if you want to collect performance information over time to develop a baseline? With NT 4.0, your biggest hurdle is the physical size that the performance logs might grow to. To work around this limitation, Win2K's Performance Monitor lets you schedule log collection by time or date. This enhancement lets you isolate the collection of data to times of interest, thus lowering the amount of data that Performance Monitor collects. To set a schedule, expand the Performance Logs and Alerts object in the left pane of the Performance window, right-click a log, and select the Schedule tab. On the Schedule tab, you can configure start and stop times. Collecting performance data during typical operations (such as from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) is common.

Depending on your environment, you might want to collect data for several weeks at a time for trend analysis. To avoid having to perform maintenance on these files as they grow, select Counter Logs, right-click the file that you want to manage, select Properties, click the Log Files tab, select Binary Circular File from the Log File Type drop-down list, and input a limit in the Limit of text box, as Figure 2 shows. Leveraging this performance-collection strategy lets you limit the amount of disk space that a performance file uses. If you match the sampling rate to the amount of disk that you want to use for performance collection, you can monitor and access several weeks worth of performance data without worrying about performance log size maintenance.

Figure 2

Sampling rates. How often do you need to sample your system for performance data? The answer depends on your goals. If you sample more often than every 5 seconds, you place a slightly higher load on your system (about 1 to 3 percent), and your performance log files require more disk space than if you sample at a usual rate (less often than every 5 seconds). If you don't sample often enough, you risk not monitoring the system when it experiences a problem.

Win2K provides a much broader range of objects and counters than previously available. If you collect all possible performance data on a system with one disk and one network connection, each sample that you collect requires more than 200Kb per sample. Most administrators don't need to monitor every possible performance object and its associated counters. If you collect performance data from the counters that Table 1 list, each sample consumes approximately 2Kb. Using this information as a baseline, Table 2 provides general guidelines about performance collection rates.

Table 2 Sample Performance Rate Guidelines


Sampling Rate


Disk Space Required Per Hour (Kb)

Detailed Troubleshooting

Sample once per second

All possible key counters


Short-term Analysis

Sample once per 5 seconds

All possible key counters


Long-term Analysis

Sample once every 10 minutes

All possible key counters


Which Process Is the Bottleneck?

Has a customer complained about poor system performance, but when you investigated everything looked fine? Performance Monitor's alert feature comes to the rescue in this type of situation. First, monitor using the counters that Table 1 lists and set performance thresholds on each counter. This setup will provide you with your system's general performance baseline, but you'll need more data to determine which application or process is swamping your system. To obtain this information, use Performance Monitor's alert feature to start any action based on an event that you define (such as when your counters reach their maximum performance thresholds).

For this example, set an alert to start a copy of the Performance Monitor counter logs when CPU usage exceeds 98 percent. (Occasional peaks in CPU usage might trigger this alert even when a problem doesn't exist. You can use third-party tools to start additional performance collection based on more advanced logical sequences—for example, when CPU usage exceeds 90 percent for 5 minutes, start additional performance data collection. For more information about these tools, see the sidebar "Third-Party Monitoring Tools" at the end of this article.) To configure this alert, start Performance Monitor, expand Performance Logs and Alerts, and select Alerts. Right-click in the right pane, and select New, Create New Alert Settings, and then insert a name. Add the counters that you want to monitor and their threshold for triggering an action; select the Action tab, the Start Performance log option, a counter log to start, and the Schedule tab; and fill in the times that you want to run the monitor. Use a counter log that collects data from at least the counters that Table 1 lists and all the counters and instances under the Process object.

With this setup, Performance Monitor will alert you when your system has a performance problem, and the software will provide you with quantifiable and empirical data that illustrates which process is causing the problem. (Performance Monitor will provide this information in the detailed counter logs that the tool started only after your system reached a certain threshold.)

Performance Monitor's alert feature is flexible. You can tell the alert function to start any script or application. You can have the system send you an email message or start a batch file that pings (for example, ping.exe), and then trace routes (for example, using tracert.exe) the network path to a distant system with which you want to interact. In this manner, you can measure the network response time to determine whether your network has problems.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020