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This is the contents of an email between a HyperLearning trainer and a student

The contents will probably be useful for any entry-level windows troubleshooter.  The help files are quite helpful, but can often be overwhelming to a beginner.  Here is the content of the email...

Q  - MemoryPages/ counter should read @ or below 20. 20 what? 20 mb, 20%. I don't understand that statement.

A - Memory -> Pages/sec

The rate at which pages were read from or written to the disk in order to correct hard page faults.

The best way to look at this is run > perfmon Then delete the counters which are auto-loaded Then, right-click in the empty window and select "add counters"

Use the Performance Object drop-down to select Memory Use the Select Counters from List drop-down to check what is available, then select pages/sec Then click the Explain button for an explanation.

MOST of these figures are arbitrary - and you have to gather the baseline data, while the system under test is operating "normally." Then, when you have a problem, you can compare the baseline with the current ones, to find out what is out of limits.

IN A FEW CASES, you will find a "magic number" written down - this is one of those magic numbers. Whenever you see a magic number in a text - or on a practice test, MEMORIZE IT! You will see them again (on just about every test you take).

Memory -> Pages/sec greater than 20 typically indicates that you are using more memory than you have. The solution is usually "add memory," but it could be caused by a program which is a "memory leaker."


Q - As well as MemoryAvailable Bytes should stay above 4mb

A - Memory -> AvailableBytes (or KBytes or MBytes) is the amount of "real"

memory that is available at the current load. There is a number that the OS will NOT allow you to go below - (to ensure the OS can operate). You will be doing 100% swapping memory out to disk (swapfile or pagefile.sys) after it gets down to 4 MB (in this OS). The result in the Memory -> Pages/Sec being much greater than 20.


Q - "I know you mentioned the main 3 that you look at in the PePerformanceiew.  What were they again?"

A - I'm not sure what you are asking. There are two tools available for monitoring performance. The easiest and quickest (but not the most powerful) is "Task Manager," which you access from Ctrl|Alt|Del on the Processes and Performance tabs.

When you think you have a problem, it is often indicated by two or more counters being "out-of-limits." The best tool for checking this is Performance Monitor ( Run -> Perfmon ).  When you open Perfmon, there are three counters automatically loaded.  These are Memory->pages/sec, Physical Disk ->Average Disk Queue Length, and Processor->% Processor Time.  These are not necessarily helpful (unless you are troubleshooting a "disk thrashing" problem), and often need to be deleted and other counters loaded.  The counters that you need to load depends upon the problem that you are investigating.


Q - In the Process View if the CPU column is on 0, should there be any reading in the MEM Usage column. And if so how would I know if a program is taking too much or if it is suppose to use Mem Usage. Is there like a magic number that a program should be using?

A - In Task Manager, on the Processes tab, is is not uncommon for you to see the instantaneous CPU usage value of zero, but the process is using memory. It is often more useful to click the "View" menu, and add the CPU Time Counter.

If you sort on CPU Time in the processes tab, you can see the processes that are (and have been) using the most CPU resources -- without them jumping around.


Q - You had mentioned that svchost.exe is a favorite for outsiders.  So how would I know which one(s) are they because be what I see there is more than one svchost.exe in my system?

A - What's inside that Svchost process? Microsoft has a free download Process Explorer at

This is a very powerful tool, but may not be useful for beginners. I have found that the most useful aspect is just hover the mouse over a process, and it will open a context-sensitive list of what is running inside. It also lists the vendor (in most cases) in the right pane.


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Webmaster Will Harper, MCSE, MCT, CCNA 06/28/2009 10:37

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