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Data collector sets simplify monitoring of Vista performance

Microsoft has reduced the complexity of performance monitoring in Windows Vista is by incorporating data collector sets. Data collector sets are templates that collect specific information about operating system performance and configuration.

One drawback to Performance Monitor in Windows is its complexity. Unless you know exactly which Performance Monitor counters to monitor, and how to interpret the results, Performance Monitor won't do you much good.

Microsoft has improved performance monitoring in Windows Vista by incorporating data collector sets. Data collector sets are templates that collect information about operating system performance and configuration, related to a specific area. For instance, you might use a data collector set to monitor network performance, rather than trying to figure out which individual counter to use.

There are four data collector sets built into Windows, but you can also create your own. You can access the built-in data collector sets by navigating through the Reliability and Performance Monitor console to Reliability and Performance | Data Collector Sets | System. Upon expanding the System container, you'll see the four built-in data collector sets.

The built-in data collector sets are dedicated to LAN diagnostics, system diagnostics, system performance and wireless diagnostics.

If you select the System Performance data collector set, the console's details pane will display an NT Kernel trace and a performance counter. Traces are new to Windows Vista. The trace data is collected from individual trace providers, which are components of the operating system (although they can also be built into third-party applications). Multiple trace providers can be combined into a trace session, which provides detailed information on a particular aspect of the system.

In this case, NT Kernel represents a single trace provider rather than a trace session. You can tell this by double-clicking on NT Kernel. When you do, you'll see the NT Kernel Properties sheet. The Trace Providers tab shows all of the providers that make up a trace session.

Just as a trace session is a collection of trace providers, the Performance Counter is a collection of individual performance counters.

To use the System Performance data collector set to see how the system is performing, right-click on System Performance, then select the Start command from the resulting shortcut menu. This would start the process of collecting system performance data.

In previous versions of Performance Monitor, interpreting the data you collected was a complicated process that required extrapolating numbers from graphs. But when you use a built-in data collector set, the results can be displayed in an easy-to-read report.

The System Performance data collector set only runs for specific amount of time. Once this data collector set finishes collecting performance data, it's time to analyze the collected data.

To do so, navigate through the console tree to Reliability and Performance | Reports | System | System Performance. You'll now see the collected data displayed in the console's details pane. Double-click on the collected data to display a report. The report displays basic information by default, allowing you to drill down for more detailed information.

As you can see, data collector sets provide you with an easy method for analyzing a system's performance or for performing diagnostic functions.

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 and other TechTarget sites.

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