Windows Performance Monitor

In this guest post by Jordan Krause, a six-time Microsoft MVP and the author of Windows Server 2016 Administration Cookbook, you’ll learn how to evaluate system performance with Windows Performance Monitor.

While the good old Task Manager and the new Resource Monitor are great utilities for monitoring system performance in real time, for any more extensive monitoring needs leveraging the Performance Monitor is advisable. Perfmon, as it is often nicknamed, is an excellent tool that can be used for collecting specific data over a predefined period of time.

Cases of reports pertaining to the malfunctioning of a certain server coming across your desk aren’t uncommon. By the time you get logged in, everything looks normal. Other than the Event Viewer, you generally don’t have a lot of options to investigate what went wrong when the problem occurred. However, the chances that you’ll run into the problem again are pretty high. With the Performance Monitor tool, you could very well catch the server in the act, even if there’s no indicting evidence of the same until after the event has finished.

Evaluate system performance with Windows Performance Monitor

In order to collect server performance data using Performance Monitor, follow these steps:

Open a command prompt or your Run box and type perfmon. This will launch the Performance Monitor tool:


From the left window pane, navigate to Monitoring Tools | Performance Monitor. You can see that it shows some real-time data about the processor by default:


Browse to Data Collector Sets | User Defined. Right-click on this folder and choose New | Data Collector Set:

Perfmon 2

Click the Add… button in order to add some performance counters that you want to keep track of on this server.

Check the box for Performance counter and click Next.

Name your new Data Collector Set and choose the bottom radio button entitled Create manually (Advanced). Then click Next.

  • Processor | % Processor Time: This will tell you how busy the CPU is.
  • Memory | Available MBytes: This will tell you how much RAM is available.
  • Memory | Page Writes/sec: This will tell you how often Windows looks to the paging file in order to create virtual memory, which helps to indicate whether or not the system is running out of physical memory.

As you can see, there are so many different counters that you can add. However, for the case in hand, these three counters are enough, so you can click on the OK button:

Perfmon 3

Back in the wizard for setting up the new Data Collector set, you should see the three counters now listed. Go ahead and click Next.

Change where you would like the data to be saved if necessary. Then click Next.

On the last screen of the wizard, choose the radio button for Open properties for this data collector set. Click the Finish button.

Navigate to the Schedule tab and click the Add button to set your preferred time in the Start time field for these performance counters to be collected.

Once you have set a start time, you can either plan to stop the data collection manually, or you can use the Stop Condition tab in order to stop the collection after a predetermined amount of time. Using a combination of the Schedule and Stop Condition tabs is a great way to collect data for a specific time range (say, one day):

Perfmon 4

Now that you have some data that has been collected, head down to Reports | User Defined in order to see the data that was stored during the specified time period:

Perfmon 5

How it works…

Performance Monitor is a great tool for collecting hardware and server performance data. The ability to be very granular in identifying which resources you want to monitor is extremely helpful. Combine that with scheduling capabilities for collection times and you have a recipe for successful server monitoring.

It can also be leveraged to run a Performance Monitor data set as a baseline after installing a new server. This way, you can hold on to that report and compare it against later similar reports when the user load increases, to look back and find out what kind of an impact certain services or users have on a system.

Hope that this is useful information for you.

peace with you,


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