Customizable PerfMon Counter for SQL Server

As the summer vacation season is pretty much over, it’s time for me to get back to working and blogging again. I had originally planned to write up a few posts during the summer, but as I spend most of my days writing my bachelor’s thesis, I simply didn’t have the energy to do so. And I did also want to enjoy the Finnish summer with the family as the sunny season here isn’t exactly a long one. And what’s a better way to get started than about blogging about SQL Server and Performance Monitor!

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Creating a Performance Monitor Black Box

One thing that we always set up on a new server is a Performance Monitor “black box”. The black box is basically a PerfMon collector that starts when the server does and runs continuously on the background, gathering performance data from number of vital counters. It has minimal performance overhead and is great at giving you a good idea on what has been going on in your servers during the last several days.

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Better PerfMon reporting with Excel

PerfMon is a great tool for collecting performance data from your servers, but it has a few shortcomings when it comes to reporting these results. One of the biggest issues that I also mention in one of my older posts here is, that the graphical presentation becomes hugely inaccurate when you collect data over a long period. While this might not bother you personally, if you’re writing that report to your manager or a customer, it makes sense to show information that is correct.

Let’s look at a simple example.

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Creating a basic performance baseline

What is a Performance Baseline?

One of the important things every DBA should have, is a performance baseline for their business critical servers. A good baseline is something that tells you how your server is performing under various workloads. This is also the reason why you should have multiple sets of performance data collected instead of just one. In a perfect world you should have one for the minimum load, one when the usage is “normal” and finally one for the situation where your server and databases are under a lot of stress.

In this post, I’ll be giving you some advice on when and why you should have a performance baseline and how you can create one.

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PerfMon tips, tricks and a single annoying quirk

Figuring out possible causes for performance issues is one of the core skills for any DBA. There’s a whole bunch of tools for it, but this time I’ll be writing about one of my favorites. The Performance Monitor (PerfMon), which is included in every version and edition of Windows Servers and workstations. PerfMon and I go back a long way and we have had a most satisfying relationship so far. Naturally there have been some rocky spots over the years, but we have never drifted apart.

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