Using Windows Performance Toolkit to find System Issues in Vista/Win2k8/Win7

Windows 7 RC1 just came out. I am a TechNet subscriber, so I wanted to try it out. I have an old (2005) Dell desktop, 2.8 GHz, 2 GB ram, 160 GB drive box. 3.7 rating for Vista (because of the Graphics card mostly, would be 4.4 otherwise – not too bad, even for being kind of an old box). It has been sitting in the basement since I moved into my new place in October, doing nothing really. I use Mac full time at home, so it just sits.

A few times I have tried to get Windows Vista running smooth on it, Media Center, or just a file server,etc. Thing is, it was just flaking out. I knew it was a hardware issue, but figured it might be the CPU fan, or overheating, etc. Vista installed fine, but as I was using it, I would see just hang-ups, lockups. Not BSOD’s, but it would just hang, for 30 seconds, 1 minute, and then come back. WTF?

Nothing in the Reliability monitor, nothing I could see in event logs, etc. I rebooted, did Windows Memory test, nothing there. If you go into Computer Management, you will see Performance, then Data Collector Sets and Reports, Monitoring Tools. You can set it up to run a test on metrics of your system and it will give you a report


I did this, and everything was ok. BUT… Avg Disk Length Queue was > 2 – red flag. Disk issues. But I wanted to know more. So I started digging around, and there is a Windows Performance Toolkit you can download. Here is another good site going into detail about the WPT.

So I fire up cmd line (as admin! – start->run, cmd ctrl+shift+enter), and run

xperf -providers K

to see what providers are available for the Kernel flags. IOTrace looks like something I want, so I then run

xperf -on IOTrace

and let it run. I go and open/close things, play around, see if I can replicate the issue. Once I feel I have, I want to stop and analyze the trace. You need to stop it and output to a file using this command:

xperf -d iotrace.etl

Side note: Files are named ETL. Coming from a BI background, this makes my world explode, since it has nothing to do with Extract, Transform, and Load

Now that my trace is done, time to analyze:

xperfview iotrace.etl

And you get some awesome stats like this:

Although I didn’t save my stats from my tests that showed the bad IO, what I saw were just gaps in the graphs, glitches in The Matrix. Time missing. Something is really bad here. So I did the drive error checking in Vista:


And when that ran, after reboot, it got to 11% and croaked. Bad drive. So I went and bought a new 500 GB SATA drive and loaded it up, and I am running Windows 7 now. Pretty sweet.

After all this fun spelunking into Windows performance, it also got me thinking about things, like running these detailed traces on SQL Server boxes or other servers on intervals, and saving them somehow, reporting on the data. The IOTrace is just one of hundreds of traces, that you can then auto analyze. I know that there are perfmon tools but there are some added benefits to xperf that you can you utilize, and I am glad I learned more about it and put it to use, just another tool for the sysadmin tool belt.


FTP and Windows 2008

Wow, another Windows 2008 post. 🙂

Was having to FTP some stuff today, and I use FileZilla, which was working fine. I wanted to do a Beyond Compare with a folder and the FTP and it was erroring out. WTF. So I try Windows FTP (Start->Run: cmd, ftp)

I could connect, but couldn’t list anything, it would just hang. The fix: turn off Windows built in firewall.



iPhone and Windows 2008

The iPhone doesn’t do anything with Windows 2008 by default. Usually when you plug it in, it will charge it, and it will show up as a digital camera in your My Computer. Windows 2008 , it just sits there, fails driver install, and does nothing.

If you install iTunes (ugh) , then at least you can charge your iPhone in Windows 2008, still the camera doesn’t work. I wonder if the Desktop Experience add on needs to be installed in Windows, not sure yet. For now though, at least it will charge 🙂

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Business Intelligence Life

What Have I Been Up To? Windows 2008, Drive Backups, VS2008 Web Programming, SSIS Stuff

I have been pretty busy lately. I have some posts that I want to write up, but it seems they are getting bigger and bigger, longer. More stuff 🙂

Just a highlight, this weekend I decided to do a full drive backup and create a restore cd, I followed this process.

I just didn’t stumble upon that. I did some research on drive backups, etc and found Drive Image XML. From there I did a backup to USB. But then I needed a way to restore, so I followed the BartPE tutorial for Drive Image XML and got that all set up. Just gives you a sense of confidence, knowing you have a full backup. Why did I decide to do this? Because I wanted to try Windows 2008 Server on my laptop, as a workstation, so next I did that.

Installed Windows 2008, set it all up. I am liking it, but there are some caveats so far. Wifi is off by default, you need to install some extra stuff. Turn on audio services, etc.

IE is totally locked down, but I installed Firefox right away anyways. Windows Live Writer won’t install, but yea you can get it to work – you need to get the MSI –

The OS doesn’t find the iPhone, so I will have to figure that out. I haven’t installed the "Desktop Experience" yet, I want to try not installing it for as long as I can. Win2k8 flys with everything turned off by default.

Also have been working on some side projects, web site and other blogs/projects. Getting deep into VS2008 and .NET 3.5, which is fun. Ran into some debacles with the ProfileBase auto generation stuff, probably another post.

Also, so cool stuff in SSIS that I probably could write up, we will see.

I am all over the board right now, I know, but it is fun, doing Programming, Database, Web 2.0 blog stuff, System Admin, the whole gamut. I love it.