four-part tutorial, you
will learn how to use NT Server 4.0's Performance Monitor and
Microsoft Excel to monitor and analyze SQL Server performance.
You will also learn how to use a SQL Server database to store
your Performance Monitor logs. This tutorial assumes that you
already know the basics of using Performance Monitor, Excel, and
of course, SQL Server.
is part one of the four-part tutorial. This part covers how to
use Performance Monitor to capture log data. The second part discusses how to use SQL Server to store Performance Monitor
log data. Part three will show you how to use Microsoft
Excel to analyze the Performance Monitor Data. And part four
will show you how to interpret your results.
we begin this tutorial, let's take a moment to first discuss why
we want to monitor SQL Server performance. As you probably
already know, SQL Server is very good at tuning itself. It has
the ability to monitor itself, and through a feedback loop, it
knows how to internally adjust and tune itself so that it keeps
running efficiently, even when external events, such as the
number of user connections or the amount of available RAM,
change over time.
as we all know, SQL Server's ability to self-tune is not perfect
and does not take into consideration every possible aspect that
affects its performance. As a DBA, we need to help SQL Server
along, providing it the resources it needs for it to do a good
job serving up data.
a good DBA, we don't want to find out from our users that SQL
Server is having a performance problem. Instead, we want to be
proactive and catch performance problems before they arise. That
is what NT Server 4.0's Performance Monitor can help us do. It
is a tool that allows us to monitor what is going on with our
SQL Server, and to provide us the information we need to make
decisions on how to best tune our SQL Servers.
Monitor is an important tool, because it not only provides us
with information on how SQL Server is performing, but it also
lets us know how NT 4.0 Server is doing, which of course
directly affects SQL Server's performance.
this in mind, it is the goal of this tutorial is to show you how
you can use Performance Monitor to capture NT and SQL
Server-related data, and then analyze it using both Performance
Monitor itself and Microsoft Excel using trend analysis. And because we need a place
to store our Performance Monitor Logs, you will learn how to
store them in a SQL Server database.
Monitoring Never Stops
the performance of NT 4.0 Server and SQL Server is not a
one-time event. As a DBA, you should be constantly monitoring
all of your SQL Server's performance. This is the case whether
you have one server, or a hundred.
described later in this tutorial, you should be using
Performance Monitor to capture performance counters and to store
them in a log. Periodically, this log should be exported to a
storage area for long term keeping. This storage area could be a
folder on a network holding the raw Performance Monitor log
files, a SQL Server database, an Access database, or an Excel
spreadsheet, whichever best meets your needs. In our case, we
will be using SQL Server to store this data.
have chosen SQL Server for several reasons. First, it is handily
available. Second, we should know how to use it. Third, it can
handle all our storage needs. Fourth, it is easy to import
Performance Monitor logs into SQL Server, and easy to export the
log data to Excel.
our Performance Monitor log data is in a SQL Server database, we
can then choose to export it to Excel for detailed analysis. And
since the data is in SQL Server, we have the full capability of
SQL Server to only SELECT and analyze the data we want to
analyze in Excel.
main reason we want to store our Performance Monitor logs is to
be able to identify trends in performance. Looking at
Performance Monitor logs for a day, or even a week, can't really
tell us if we will need to add CPUs, or more disk arrays, to our
server next year. What we need are months of data, perhaps years
of data, that we can use to make reliable predictions on what
our SQL Server resource needs will be in the future.
one of the biggest benefits of long-term NT Server 4.0 and SQL
Server monitoring is to be able to predict our server needs in
the future. While this important, we also need these same logs
to help us identify current performance bottlenecks and other
potential performance-related problems. The more information we
have at our disposal, the better decisions we can make.
a Performance Monitor View
Monitor has four operational "views". They include:
Chart View: For
performance counter viewing and analysis
Alert View: For
creating performance-based alerts
Report View: For
viewing data performance data in a tabular format
Log View: For
logging performance data to a log file
Our focus here will be on
the Log View, which allows us to select the Performance Monitor
counters we want collect and log, along with how often we want
to collect the data.
Where to Run Performance Monitor
first step to using Performance Monitor is to decide where it
will be located when it is running. You can locate it on the
same server that it is monitoring, or you can locate it on any
NT 4.0 Server or Workstation. If you run Performance Monitor
from the same server you are monitoring, this will affect the
results, although not significantly on most servers.
prefer to run Performance Monitor from NT 4.0 Workstation,
connecting to the monitored server over the network. This will
move most of the load off of the server being monitored, with
the very minor exception of some network activity.
option is to use the service-based version of Performance
Monitor available with the NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit. It allows
you run Performance Monitor as a service, not as a foreground
application. This can help reduce the overhead of running
Performance Monitor. For this tutorial, we will be using the
standard Performance Monitor software that comes with NT 4.0
Server and Workstation.
you have decided where to run Performance Monitor, the next step
is to decide how many SQL Servers you want to monitor.
Performance Monitor can monitor up to 10 different servers simultaneously.
If you decide to monitor more than one server at a time, then
you will definitely want to dedicate a computer, such as a NT 4.0
Workstation, for this task. If you need to monitor more than 10
servers at a time, you can open multiple instances of
Performance Monitor on your computer.
Which Objects to Monitor and Log
next step is to decide which Performance Monitor counters you
want to monitor and log. Depending on how your server is
configured, there may be over 400 different counters you could
measure. But that is much more than you will ever need. And even
if you were to try and monitor that many counters, you would
generate huge amounts of data, in the range of over a megabyte a
minute, depending on the log interval.
the Chart View, the Log View feature of Performance Monitor does
not let you select individual counters to monitor. Instead, you
must select entire Performance Monitor Objects. This means that
if a particular Performance Monitor object has 25 counters in
it, and you only want to monitor one of them, you will still get
all 25 counters. There is no way around this.
you must decide which Performance Monitor Objects have the
counters you want to monitor, and then add them to the
Performance Monitor Log View. Keep in mind that the more Objects
you choose, the more data is collected, and the greater the
resources used to collect the data. While you will want to
collect all the Objects you need, don't collect data on any
Objects you won't use.
each DBA has there preference on which Performance Monitor
Objects to monitor and log, I usually stick to these:
SQL Server: Access
SQL Server: Buffer
SQL Server: General
SQL Server: Locks
SQL Server: SQL
For the most part, these
Objects includes all the counters I use to monitor both NT 4.0
Server and SQL Server, although I of course don't use all of the
counters in all of these Objects.
the Collection Interval
Once you have selected the
Performance Monitor Objects to collect, the next step is to
determine the collection interval. The collection interval
determines how often data is sampled and stored in the log. The
default interval is 15 seconds. This means that all the counters
for all the objects are collected and stored in the log every 15
seconds. The values for the counters that are collected are the
averages for the counters over the 15 second interval. If you
use an interval of 60 seconds, then the data will be averaged
and collected over 60 seconds.
The shorter the interval,
the more granular the data, and the longer the interval, the
less granular the data. If the data is not granular enough, you
may miss out on important spikes that don't show up because all
of the data for the collection interval is averaged over the
The length of the
collection interval is proportional to the amount of data that
will be collected. The shorter the interval, the more data is
collected, and the longer the interval, the less data is
You may want to experiment
with various collection intervals to find the one that is best
for your environment. The collection interval I use depends on
how long I am collecting the data for. Generally, if I collect
data for 8 hours or less, I will often choose an interval from
30-60 seconds. But if I am collecting data around the clock,
then I choose an interval from 300-600 seconds. This is because
if you don't choose a larger interval, the amount of data
collected becomes overwhelming.
Collecting the Data
Now that you have made all
of these decision, don't forget to save your work before you
begin collecting data. You can use the File|Save Log Settings
option to save a file with all the information you have entered,
such as the Objects you selected, that you can load again if need be.
Once your settings are
saved, you are ready to begin collecting your data. When you
start, watch the screen awhile, seeing how much data is being
collected. If this amount seems like too much data too fast,
then perhaps you are collecting too much data, or collecting it
too often. You may want to stop the logging, make a couple of
changes to reduce the amount of logged data, and try again.
If you are collecting data
round the clock, you will need to periodically (like once a day)
stop the log, and then restart it immediately, but using a new
file name. I like to use the day's date as my file name. If you
don't do this, then your log will get huge.
As the logs are written
out, such as once a day, you next task is to either view them
directly with the Chart View of Performance Monitor for a
quick-and-dirty analysis, or to
import the data into a SQL Server database for later analysis
using Microsoft Excel.
read part two of this four-part tutorial, and learn how to
import Performance log data into SQL Server for later trend