Exploring Windows’ Administrative Tools: Part 2

Fred Langa

Windows’ Performance Monitor is the key to understanding the details of your PC’s operation.

This tool (built into XP, Vista, and Win7) lets you see, in real time and in collected data logs, how your PC reacts as different programs run — or fail to run!

In Part 1 of “Exploring Windows’ Administrative Tools” (May 10 Top Story), you saw how a few easy tweaks can give you two-click access to hundreds of Windows’ most powerful diagnostic, tuning, and administrative features. In this installment, we’ll explore one of the most powerful of these tools — Performance Monitor.

Here’s how to access the version built into your copy of Windows:

In an admin-level account, click Start, type perfmon in the Start Menu’s search box, and press Enter. Figure 1 shows Performance Monitor’s initial dialog box in Windows 7.

Performance Monitor's opening screen

Figure 1. Like the proverbial iceberg's tip, Performance Monitor's initial dialog only hints at what lies beneath.

Because most Windows Secrets readers are now using Windows 7, I’ll focus on its Performance Monitor. But Vista’s version is nearly identical and XP’s is similar, though simpler. I’ll also include abundant links for additional general and version-specific information at the end of this article.

Literally thousands of monitoring options

Although it has a single name, Performance Monitor actually aggregates a cornucopia of separate subtools and monitoring functions. Windows refers to these monitoring functions as counters because each one counts or aggregates various performance metrics.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2012-06-13:

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.