Troubleshooting Slow VM Performance in Hyper-V (Part 6)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

So far in this series, I have shown you how to use a number of different native Windows tools to track down virtual machine performance problems. In this article, I want to wrap things up by showing you a few more things that you can do with the Windows Resource Monitor.

Customizing the Resource Monitor

So far I have shown you how to use the Resource Monitor to view various aspects of a virtual machine’s overall performance. However, everything that I have shown you so far has been based on using the Resource Monitor in its default configuration. Windows makes it possible to customize the Resource Monitor so that it displays exactly the performance data that you want to see, nothing less, nothing more. In this article I want to show you how to customize the resource monitor view.

Column Customization

In the previous articles, you saw how the Resource Monitor’s Overview screen displays expandable sections for CPU, Disk, Memory, and Network resource usage. Each of these sections shows a number of columns for each process. For instance, the CPU section displays the image name (which is typically referred to as the process name), the process ID, the process description, the status, the number of threads being used, the identity of the CPU core that is running the process, and the average CPU usage for the process.

While there is no denying that this is some great information to have available, it may be inadequate. Likewise, there might also be situations in which the information that is displayed is overkill and you would prefer a more simplified view of the resource usage. Here is how you can address both of those situations.

If you look at Figure A, you can see the Resource Monitor’s Overview tab. As you can see in the figure, I have expanded the CPU section. If you look immediately beneath the CPU bar, you can see a column heading that contains the words Image, PID, Description, etc. It is this column heading that offers the key to customizing the Resource Monitor’s view.

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Figure A: The column heading is the key to customizing the Resource Monitor’s view.

If you right click on the column header, you will see a shortcut menu appear. As you can see in Figure B, this menu gives you the option to select columns or to hide columns.

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Figure B: The shortcut menu lets you customize the column view.

As you can see in Figure C, the Select Columns dialog box reveals that there are many more columns available than those that are displayed by default. For example, the CPU list can display things such as the operating system context, the name of the user that is running the process, and even whether or not the process is running with elevated permissions.

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Figure C: There are a number of different statistics that can be displayed.

As you saw in the previous screen capture, the dialog box allows you to display or hide columns. If you merely want to hide a column however, you do not have to go through the dialog box shown above. Instead, you can simply right click on the column header and select the Hide Column command from the shortcut menu.

It is also worth noting that the Resource Monitor does not require you to view the various columns in their default layout. You can drag and drop columns (by clicking on the column header) in order to rearrange the order in which the columns are displayed. Similarly, you can sort a column by clicking on the column header.

One thing that I want be sure to point out before I move on is that although I have based this article around customizing the way that CPU resource consumption data is displayed, everything that I have talked about so far can be applied to any of the resources. The resource Monitor lets you customize the way that information is displayed on the Overview tab, the CPU tab, the Memory tab, the Disk tab, and the Network tab.

Saving Your Customizations

As you spend time working with the Resource Monitor, you will likely discover that you like to have the performance and resource consumption data displayed in a certain way. It can be a chore to have to go in and customize the various views every time that you use the Resource Monitor. Thankfully, you don’t have to. The Resource Monitor’s File menu contains options to save your settings and to load your settings, as shown in Figure D. That way you don’t have to manually configure the Resource Monitor every time that you use it.

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Figure D: The Resource Monitor allows you to save your custom settings for future use.

Exporting Monitoring Data

There are two main differences between the Resource Monitor and the Windows Performance Monitor. First, the Windows Performance Monitor is a much more advanced tool. It allows you to pick and choose which specific counters will be analyzed. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of counters to choose from, so you can truly achieve a granular view of the performance data. Of course you have to know which counters to use in a given situation. More importantly, you have to know how to interpret the raw performance data provided by those counters. In contrast, the Resource Monitor uses a predefined counter set and does not allow you to add any additional counters (aside from changing the view to include additional columns).

The second big difference between the Resource Monitor and the Performance Monitor is that the Performance Monitor will allow you to export the data that you have captured. This is useful for establishing a performance baseline, for troubleshooting, or for documenting unusual performance.

The Resource Monitor is the wrong tool for the job if you need to export performance data. In those cases, you really should be using the Performance Monitor instead. However, if you absolutely have to export data that has been captured there is a roundabout way to do so.

The Resource Monitor’s Monitor menu contains options to start monitoring and stop monitoring. If you choose the Stop Monitoring option, then the Resource Monitor will halt the monitoring process, but any performance data that was already on the screen will remain there until you either resume the monitoring process or close the Resource Monitor. There isn’t really a way to export this data, but you can create a screen capture.

Color Coding

One last thing that I want to point out is that the Resource Monitor color codes performance data. You might have noticed in some of the previous screen captures that a suspended process is displayed in Blue. Similarly, a process that is not responding is displayed in red.

When you see these types of processes, you can take corrective action by right clicking on the process. For example, you might resume a suspended process, end a frozen process, analyze a frozen process’s wait chain, or even end an entire process tree. Of course some of these options are also available in the Task Manager.

Conclusion

As you can see, troubleshooting VM performance can be a somewhat involved process. Even so, the troubleshooting process is usually a matter of comparing the resources that are being consumed against the resources that are available in an effort to track down resource shortages.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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