The Windows Performance Monitor has many different performance objects to choose from, and each performance object has a number of different counters. That's great if all you want to know is how well the processor is performing. But what if you want to know how well Exchange Server is performing? You can look at Exchange-related counters -- but that doesn't give you the full picture. After all, Exchange runs on Windows; if Windows isn't healthy, Exchange isn't healthy. If you only monitor Exchange-related counters and ignore Windows-related counters, you may miss important information.
So how do you choose which of the hundreds of counters to monitor? Give Microsoft's Performance Monitor Wizard a try. The Performance Monitor Wizard is designed to make performance monitoring easier. Best of all, it can be custom tailored for Exchange environments.
You can download the Performance Monitor Wizard from Microsoft as a 46 KB zip file. The application contained within the zip file will run under Windows 2000, XP and 2003. The only catch is that you can't perform the download until the Microsoft Web site confirms that you are running a legitimate (not pirated) copy of Windows.
How to install and use the Performance Monitor Wizard
- Download the zip file and extract its contents to an empty folder.
- Double click the PERFWIZ.EXE file to launch the Performance Monitor Wizard.
- When the wizard starts, click Next to bypass the welcome screen and you will see a screen asking which computer will be used to collect the Performance Monitor logs. By default, the current system is entered, but you can enter any system that you want (assuming that it is running a comparable operating system).
- Click Next, select the Create New Log option and click Next again.
- For the purposes of this article, select the Standard Perfmon option and click Next.
- Select the Exchange Server check box and click Next.
- Click Next to select your 'average time of issue' and 'sample interval.'
- Click Next, followed by Start to start the logging process.
- When you have finished collecting logging information, you can terminate the data collection process by clicking the Stop button.
At this point, you will be asked to select a profile to be used by the Performance Monitor Wizard. As I mentioned earlier, Perfmon contains hundreds, if not thousands, of counters and there is no way they can all be run at once. Selecting a profile helps narrow down what you want to monitor so the Performance Monitor Wizard will have a better idea of what counters to use. The Standard Perfmon option is fine for most situations, but if you are experiencing extremely high CPU utilization, you might be better off selecting the High CPU Usage option. There is also an Advanced Configuration option available for more experienced administrators.
You will now see a screen that asks you which computer you want to monitor. The current system is automatically selected, but you can monitor any system with a supported operating system. This screen also contains checkboxes you can use to tell the Performance Monitor Wizard if the selected system is acting as a terminal server or as an Exchange server.
You will see a screen that prompts you for a log file name and a maximum size for the log file. The log file name is preset to C: \PERFLOGS\PERFWIZ and set to a default size of 200 MB. Feel free to make any desired changes to these settings.
The first question that the screen asks is the average time to issue. It assumes that you would not be running the Performance Monitor if you weren't having some sort of problem. It is therefore asking you how frequently the problem occurs.
The sample interval is how often the value of the various counters should be recorded to a log file. The default sample interval is 30 seconds. You can choose to log data more frequently, but doing so will cause the log file to fill up quickly and can cause some major performance problems (this also means that the data you are looking at is inaccurate).
The logs themselves are stored in BLG format in the C:\PERFLOGS folder.
About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer he has written for Microsoft, CNET, ZDNet, TechTarget, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at www.brienposey.com.
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