Chapter 10

Viewing Server Performance with PerfMon and the PAL Tool


  • When and how to use Windows Performance Monitor
  • Prescriptive guidance on problem counters
  • Using PAL for log analysis
  • Using other log analysis tools


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Performance Monitor, often referred to as PerfMon, is a tool that provides performance data useful for narrowing the scope of a problem. This data is frequently used as a first point of call for troubleshooting — providing server-wide diagnostics information, PerfMon can be used to eliminate components as the cause of a problem.

PerfMon is often used interactively to provide a real-time view of server performance and resource utilization (such as CPU, memory, and disk activity). PerfMon may also be useful for post-mortem analysis, whereby logs can be configured to record data continuously, rollover, or start/stop at specific intervals. DBAs often find the tool useful when troubleshooting intermittent problems or identifying a problem outside SQL Server (either a hardware problem or a Windows issue).

Engineers familiar with PerfMon typically know a handful of PerfMon counters that can provide an overview of server performance and health. Experienced engineers, well practiced with PerfMon, often take an iterative approach — adding and removing counters as the scope of a problem becomes more refined and troubleshooting is more focused.

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