Troubleshoot Windows Server 2012 Performance with a Data Collector

Regardless of whether you are running Windows Server 2012 on virtual server or physical server, the success of your business depends on having the server run at optimal capacity. To ensure the server delivers uninterrupted service, you have be aware of potential performance issues before they arise.\r\n\r\nOne of the best methods to analyze the performance of Windows Server 2012 is with Performance Monitor and a User Defined Data Collector. With this tool the identification and analysis of potential performance issues has never been easier. Upon completion, a detailed summary report will be generated providing immediate insight into key aspects of the server’s performance such as Disk IO, CPU, and RAM as well as network utilization. Reading the report summary is simplified further with the use of green, red and yellow icons that call your attention to any irregularities. Additional in depth metrics are contained in collapsible sections of the report below the Summary.\r\n

Creating a New Data Collector

\r\nTo create a new User Defined Data Collector simply open Performance Monitor, right click on User Defined, select Data Collector Set. A wizard will launch to guide you through creating a new Data Collector. Once created the Data Collector will be available to run as frequently as needed. Each time it runs a new report will be created.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe first step will be to enter the name of your report. I usually specify “Performance” somewhere in the name since that is the type of Data Collector I am planning on running. Choosing the default option of Create from the template is recommended. Click on Next to continue.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe next step will be to choose the Data Collector Template that you want to use. I am going to choose System Performance. Click on Next to continue.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nNext you will be prompted to choose a path to store the report data. Depending on how long your report runs and how frequently you run it the reports can consume a lot of space. In the event that your server has multiple disk drives, it would be better to select the larger drive for storing the reports.  Click Next to Continue.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nLeave <Default> for the Run as: user context. You can change that later if needed. We need to configure some additional settings before running so select Open properties for this data collector set and then click Finish.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n


Additional Data Collector Properties

\r\nBefore running your new data collector there are a few properties that you want to double check first.\r\n\r\n \r\n

Setting the Stop Condition

\r\nWith the properties open, click on the Stop Condition tab so that you can enter a specific period of time for the Data Collector to run. It is important to set a Stop Condition before running otherwise it will continue to run indefinitely until you manually stop it. As I noted earlier not only can the logs can take up disk space but also running a Data Collector for an extended period of time can impact server performance so specifying a Stop Condition is a good idea. For short tests I typically set 20-30 minutes. For longer tests I’ll set 2-3 hours.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n


Setting a Recurring Schedule

\r\nChances are you may already be aware of a performance problem on your server and need to isolate the analysis window to a specific day or time period. Clicking on the Schedule tab will enable to specify multiple dates and times to run the Data Collector. This could be especially helpful if your server gets busy with after-hours utilization and you’re not available to start the data collector manually.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nYou can even select a date range to run the data collector on specific days of the week during that period of time.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nOnce you’ve finished setting the properties of the data collector just right-click on the name to run it manually or wait for the schedule to start it automatically.\r\n\r\n \r\n


Viewing the Summary Report

\r\nYou will be able to view and analyze the report generated by the Data Collector once it has completed running. If you try to view the report before it has completed you will be notified that the Data Collector is still running. The report is located under the User Defined Reports section of Performance Monitor.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe overall performance of the server is displayed at the top of the report in the Summary. Anything requiring your immediate attention is noted in the Diagnostic Results section. In the picture below we can see that the server clearly needs additional RAM to alleviate the disk paging that is occurring.  The Resource Overview offers an easy to read chart of the server’s core resources of CPU, Network, Disk, and Memory. The status of each of these is indicated with Green, Yellow, or Red icons.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nBelow the Summary are collapsible sections that offer more detailed insight into the server’s CPU, Network, Disk, and Memory utilization. Here are two examples of the additional data that is available:\r\n

CPU Utilization

\r\nIn the picture below we can see that one IIS worker process was consuming nearly 80% of the server’s CPU utilization. Performing additional analysis with Log Parser on the web site’s web logs would help identify the problems this particular web site is experiencing.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n

Disk IO

\r\nSome cloud server providers will charge overage fees for excessive disk IO so it’s important to know what’s happening there. In the Disk summary there a helpful report that shows exactly what files on your server are consuming the most IO. This report is aptly named Files Causing Most Disk IOs. In the picture below we can see that pagefile.sys is causing a lot of disk IO. This is a good indication that the server could benefit from additional RAM thereby reducing the amount of disk paging that is occurring.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n


Viewing the Data Counters

\r\nIn addition to reading the data collector report you also have the ability to view the raw counter data. From this view you can select all the counters that were collecting data or only a few and play back the utilization as it occurred.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n

In Summary

\r\nWindows Server 2012 offers several tools for analyzing your server’s performance. The Performance Monitor Data Collector offers comprehensive insight into resource utilization and makes it easy to quickly identify performance bottlenecks. Thanks for reading.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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