Using and monitoring counters

How to add counters to your management console.

You know that Windows Performance Monitor has been around for a while. But if you haven't taken the time to understand the function of Performance Monitor, chances are you haven't really gotten into its innards to see how to make it work. And it can be a very useful tool for, as its name implies, monitoring the performance of Windows servers and workstations, whether you're talking about the one you're on, or a remote computer somewhere...

on your network. This tip, excerpted from InformIT, tells you how to add performance counters to Performance Monitor, the first step in using Performance Monitor to get Windows performance purring like a kitten.


The Performance Monitor can actively track the performance of many aspects of a workstation. Performance Monitor categorizes them into objects. These object types relate to actual devices, sections of memory, or processes. Objects contain items known as counters, which 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 a Windows XP Professional-based workstation, you need to add counters to monitor system performance. You'll see that adding counters are identical no matter which of the four views in Performance Monitor are being used. To add counters in Performance Monitor, do the following:

  1. Launch Performance Monitor either from the command line or from within Control Panel in Windows 2000.
  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 have the Add Counters dialog box
  4. In the Counter list, select a counter you want to track. If you are unsure of what a counter does and want more information on the specific object: counter relationship, select the counter and click once on the Explain button.
  5. 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. This closes the Add to window.

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


To read the article from which this tip was excerpted, click over to InformIT. You have to register there, but the registration is free.


This was first published in November 2001

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