Windows Server Troubleshooting - Baseline

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To troubleshoot a problem, you need to know what is normal.  To establish a baseline, collect data from your system under normal circumstances. Collect this data over long periods of time. Performance logs are an easy way of establishing a baseline. The easiest way to create a baseline is to collect data with System Monitor into a  log file. The log files can be analyzed with System Monitor or a spreadsheet program such as Excel.

Baseline information can be used for;

  • Capacity planning
    • Use trend analysis to predict future usage
  • Optimization
    • Determine causes of performance changes
  • Troubleshooting
    • When problems occur, you have a reference point for normal behavior

 At a minimum, baselines must have details on the basic resources. The following table shows the most basic objects to monitor.

Device Object Counter
Processor Processor % processor time
Memory Memory Pages/sec
Disk Physical disk Avg. disk queue length
Network Network Segment % network utilization

The following graph shows a baseline which is typical for any type of computer resource utilization. It is low at night, high during the day and dips slightly at lunch time. This shows an actual situation that I experienced where problems appeared during lunch time. Instead of the normal lower utilization, we observed extremely high utilization. Further investigation showed lunch break game playing which was subsequently terminated. Problem solved!