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Monitoring Performance with System Monitor

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For more advanced performance monitoring, Windows XP offers the System Monitor tool, which you can get to by selecting Start, Run, typing perfmon.msc, and clicking OK. The System Monitor appears, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Use System Monitor to keep an eye on various system settings and components.

System Monitor’s job is to provide you with real-time reports on how various system settings and components are performing. Each item is called a counter and the displayed counters are listed at the bottom of the window. Each counter is assigned a different colored line, and that color corresponds to the colored lines shown in the graph. Note, too, that you can get specific numbers for a counter—the most recent value, the average, the minimum, and the maximum—by clicking a counter and reading the boxes just below the graphs.

The idea is that you should configure System Monitor to show the processes you’re interested in (page file size, free memory, and so on) and then keep System Monitor running while you perform your normal chores. By examining the System Monitor readouts from time to time, you gain an appreciation of what is typical on your system. Then, if you run into performance problems, you can check System Monitor to see whether you’ve run into any bottlenecks or anomalies.

By default, System Monitor shows only the Kernel Processor Usage setting, which tells you the percentage of time the processor is busy. To add another setting to the System Monitor window, follow these steps:

1.
Right-click a counter and then click Add Counters. The Add Counters dialog box appears.

2.
Use the Performance Object list to select a counter category (such as Memory, Paging File, or Processor).

3.
Activate the Select Counters from List option.

4.
Select the counter you want and then click Add. If you need more information about the item, click the Explain button.

5.
Repeat step 4 to add any other counters you want to monitor.

6.
Click OK.

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