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Optimizing Windows 7 with Performance Monitor (part 1) - Using Resource Monitor

6/21/2011 4:27:22 PM
The Performance Monitor utility is used to measure the performance of a local or a remote computer on the network. Performance Monitor enables you to do the following:
  • Collect data from your local computer or remote computers on the network. You can collect data from a single computer or multiple computers concurrently.

  • View data as it is being collected in real time, or historically from collected data.

  • Have full control over the selection of what data will be collected, by selecting which specific objects and counters will be collected.

  • Choose the sampling parameters that will be used, meaning the time interval that you want to use for collecting data points and the time period that will be used for data collection.

  • Determine the format in which data will be viewed—in line, histogram bar, or report views.

  • Create HTML pages for viewing data.

  • Create specific configurations for monitoring data that can then be exported to other computers for performance monitoring.


In order to view data on remote computers, you need to have administrative rights to the remote computer, and the Remote Registry Service must be enabled and running on the remote computer. Also, make sure your firewall allows the ability to remote in.

Windows 7 Performance Monitor includes the new data collector set. This tool works with performance logs, telling Performance Monitor where the logs are stored and when the log needs to run. The data collector sets also define the credentials used to run the set.

Data collector sets are used to collect data into a log so that the data can be reviewed. You can view the log files with Performance Monitor, as described in the previous section.

Data collector sets can collect the following data:

  • Performance counters

  • Event trace data

  • System configuration information

Windows 7 includes the following four data collector sets that are stored within the System subfolder:

  • LAN Diagnostics

  • System Diagnostics

  • System Performance

  • Wireless Diagnostics

Through Performance Monitor, you can view current data or data from a log file. When you view current data, you are monitoring real-time activity. When you view data from a log file, you are importing a log file from a previous session.

To access Performance Monitor, choose Start => Control Panel => System and Security => Administrative Tools => Performance Monitor (double-click), or type perfume from the Windows 7 search box. Figure 1 shows the main Performance Monitor window when it is initially opened without configuration.

Figure 1. Windows 7 Performance Monitor

When you first start Performance Monitor, the Overview Of Performance Monitor page is displayed. The System Summary pane of this page gives a quick snapshot of which resources are being used in your computer. Notice the four initial resources tracked: Memory, Network Interface, Physical Disk, and Processor Information, You can view detailed information about each resource by choosing the Open Resource Monitor link or by typing perfmon from the Windows 7 search box.

1. Using Resource Monitor

The Resource Monitor window was integrated into the Reliability and Performance utility of Windows Vista, but has been given its own dialog box in Windows 7. Figure 2 shows the Resource Monitor tabbed dialog box.

Figure 2. Windows 7 Resource Monitor

The Overview tab of the Resource Monitor dialog box is open by default and gives you a fair amount of detail in terms of a graphical representation on the right side. The main window of the Resource Monitor dialog box gives you an overview of the four major subsystems monitored by default (CPU, Disk, Network, and Memory). You expand or compress each of the four items by clicking the arrow in the right of the item title bar, as shown in Figure 3. For example, if you want to view details about the memory being used by the processes of Windows 7, click the arrow to expand Memory, and you can view each process, process ID, and memory allocation by physical, shared, and private allotment.

Figure 3. Expand or collapse the Resource Monitor item arrow

The other tabs of Resource Monitor give detailed information with regard to each of the major subsystems of Windows 7. The CPU tab of Resource Monitor displays the individual process currently running on the machine as well as the process ID (PID), a brief description, the running status of the process, the number of threads the process is running, current CPU utilization, and average CPU utilization. You also have services details, application handle details, and module derails available by expanding each item. The CPU tab of Resource Monitor is shown in Figure 4. The right side of the CPU tab also offers a graphical representation of real-time statistics indicating percentages for CPU total usage and service CPU usage.

Figure 4. The CPU tab of Resource Monitor

The Memory tab of Resource Monitor shows the process information as displayed in the CPU tab, with an overview of memory allocarion in the form of a graphical representation. The right side of the display also shows you real-time information about the physical memory, currently allocated memory called the Commit Charge, and Hard Faults/Sec (the number of memory accesses that are not actually in RAM, but in a page file waiting to be used). The Memory tab of Resource Monitor is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. The Memory tab of Resource Monitor

The Disk tab of Resource Monitor is used to display the disk activity of your machine. The items available to view are the Processes With Disk Activity, Disk Activity, and Storage statistics. You can see the Disk tab in Figure 6, including the real-time graphical representation of Disk transfer in KB/sec and Disk Queue Length (the amount of transfer currently waiting for transfer to RAM for processing).

Figure 6. The Disk tab of Resource Monitor

The Network tab of Resource Monitor shows network utilization as well as network protocol information. The items available for detailed information include Processes With Network Activity, Network Activity, TCP Connections, and Listening Ports. We've had this information available to us in previous versions of Windows, but this is one convenient location for a slew of useful network information. As shown in Figure 7, the Network tab offers a huge amount of useful network information (I have opened the Listening Ports item in the figure) as well as the real-time graphical information for Network data transfer, open TCP Connections, and Local Area Connection usage as a percentage.

Figure 7. The Network tab of Resource Monitor

It is important to monitor resources such as hard drive cache and network performance. Monitoring these resources enables you to configure them for peak performance in Windows 7.

For monitoring system activity other than what is provided by the Resource Overview tab and Resource Monitor, you must use more of the Performance Monitor features.
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