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Create data collector sets through Vista's Performance Monitor

There are three basic methods for creating a data collector set in Windows Vista: through the Performance Monitor, from a template or manually. This article will show you how

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to create a data collector set through the Performance Monitor, then manually configure it to meet your needs.

You can begin the process of creating a data collector set through Performance Monitor by navigating through the console tree to Reliability and Performance | Monitoring Tools | Performance Monitor. Right-click on the Performance Monitor container, and select the New | Data Collector Set command from the resulting shortcut menu. When you do, Windows will launch the Create New Data Collector Set wizard.

The first thing the wizard asks you for is a name for the data collector set you're creating. Enter a name for the data collector set and click Next. Windows will now prompt you for a location for the collected data to be saved in. The default location is usually acceptable, so click Next.

At this point, Windows will prompt you as to which user account the data collector set should run under. You must select an account that has the appropriate permissions. Then select the Save and Close option and click Finish. Your data collectors will now be created. Your new data collector set is accessible through the console tree at Reliability and Performance | Data Collector Sets | User Defined.

Customizing your data collector set

We've created a custom data collector set, but it doesn't really do anything yet. We must now tell Windows what we want to include in the data collector set. Right-click on your new data collector set, and select the New | Data Collector commands from the resulting shortcut menus. When you do so, Windows will launch the Create New Data Collector wizard.

The first thing the wizard asks you is what type of data collector you'd like to create. You can create a performance counter, event trace or configuration data collector. Another option is for a performance counter alert. For the purposes of this article, select the Performance Counter Data Collector option. Click Next.

At this point, Windows will ask you which performance counters you'd like to log. Click the Add button and choose the performance counters you'd like to include in the data collector set. This screen also gives you the option of setting the data collector's sampling interval. Click Finish and the Performance Monitor counters you've chosen will be added to the data collector set.

Using the data collector set

You can go back at any time and add items to your custom data collector set. But for now, I want to show you how to use the data collector set you've created. Start the data collection process by right-clicking on your custom data collector set and selecting the Start command from the resulting shortcut menu.

The built-in data collector sets we ran in the previous article stopped automatically after a specific length of time. We have not yet defined any time limits for the data collector set to run, so for now you'll have to stop the data collection process manually. To do so, right-click on the data collector set and select the Stop command from the resulting shortcut menu.

As you may recall, Windows displayed the scanning results from the built-in data collector sets in a report format. Windows will also automatically create reports for your custom data collection sets. You can access these reports by navigating through the console tree to Reliability and Performance | Reports | User Defined. The custom reports are stored beneath the listing for your custom data collector set.

Reports for custom data collector sets

However, reports for custom data collector sets are not nearly as elaborate as the ones included with the built-in data collector sets. For example, if you look at the screenshot below, you can see that the report for my custom data collector set is nothing more than a Performance Monitor graph.

However, the next screenshot shows how I have created another custom data collector that uses more types of collection data.

When I display the report for this data collector, the report becomes much more elaborate, because the report is based on more than just Performance Monitor data.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server, Exchange Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. He writes regularly for SearchWinComputing.com and other TechTarget sites.

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This was first published in July 2007

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