Your Troubleshooting PAL

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How many times have you been faced with a performance issue with a computer and you don't really know where to start? Sure, you can fire up Performance Monitor (perfmon) and start collecting data for analysis, but which counters do you collect and how do you identify a bottleneck?

Perfmon can gather tons of information and pouring over all that data for analysis can be a daunting task. Enter Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL), a new and powerful tool that reads in a performance monitor counter log in any known format and analyzes it using complex, but known thresholds. The tool produces an HTML report which reports important performance counters and displays alerts when thresholds are exceeded.

PAL is a free open source application developed by Microsoft and is hosted on CodePlex, Microsoft's open source project hosting web site. It requires two other free pieces of software on the computer where PAL will run:

Log Parser 2.2
Log parser is a powerful, versatile tool that provides universal query access to text-based data such as log files, XML files and CSV files, as well as key data sources on the Windows operating system such as the Event Log, the Registry, the file system, and Active Directory. PAL uses the Log Parser tool to query perform logs and to create charts and graphs for the PAL report.

Microsoft Office Web Components 2003
Log Parser requires the Office Web Components 2003 in order to create charts.

Note: Because there is no 64-bit version of the Microsoft Office Web Components, PAL only runs on x86 platform computers.

To use PAL, you begin by collecting performance data from the target machine using perfmon. Typically, I collect the Memory, Network Interface, Physical Disk, Processor and System counters to begin with. Once you've collected some data run PAL and walk through the wizard. Be sure to answer the Question Variable Names at the bottom of the Threshold File page. The variables are Number of Processors, use of the /3GB switch, is the target a 64-bit computer, total RAM and whether it has a kernel dump configured. Step through the rest of the wizard and PAL will create a batch file, run it and display the output as a graphical report in your web browser. Very cool!!!

You can view a LiveMeeting streaming video training of PAL here.