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Ever heard this one, “My computer is slow.” Or how about, “It is taking forever to login.” If you answered no to either of those comments, I envy you! These issues are incredibly frustrating to fix because of the lack of data. Most of the time, you are lucky to get an error code or a log. Instead of brushing these complaints off as user perception or older hardware, let’s dig into some troubleshooting and use the Windows Performance Toolkit!
In the days of old, every single troubleshooting tool (almost) always had its own download and separate installation. Thankfully, Microsoft has combined (almost) all of the tools needed for client Assessment and desktop Deployment into a single Kit named Windows ADK. You can download the Windows ADK here.
After launching the ADK setup, proceed to the feature selection screen. If you are only using the Performance toolkit, just select the Windows Performance Toolkit option. In my environment, I find that I use the Windows Assessment Toolkit quite a bit as well so I also install it as a default option.
Installing the Windows Performance Toolkit
As a note, if you followed our Deploying Windows 8 Series – you might already have ADK installed. It is perfectly fine to run the Deployment Tools, ACT, or any of the other ADK features with the Performance toolkit.
Now that you have the Windows Performance Toolkit installed on your management machine, you will also want to install it on a test client that exactly mimics your organization. This test client, preferably a virtual machine, is about to undergo a lot of changes!
WPR, WPA, WHY so many acronyms? ^
After installation, you will now have a few new tools at your disposal. The first tool is the Windows Performance Recorder (WPR).
The Windows Performance Recorder tool
This tool has been streamlined and replaces the functionality of two past tools: Xpref and Xbootmgr. Because a lot of existing performance documentation still reference these two obsolete tools, it is important to substitute WPR in their place.
You will use WPR to capture performance related issues on client machines. Most of the time, we will use the Reboot Cycle performance scenario to test clients. After our information has been captured, WPR will save and compress that information into a single trace file. This file is normally has an .ETL extension.
Your second main tool is the Windows Performance Analyzer (WPA). This tool will be ran on your management machines. Although you can run it on a client, you’ll likely get improved performance on administrative machines (and will find the graphs easier to read).
Let’s launch WPA and see what we get:
Windows Performance Analyzer after first launch
Not much to see here! That’s is because we have to open a trace first. After opening a trace file, we get:
The Windows Performance Analyzer with a Trace Opened
Much more informative! On the left, we have our graph explorer. This areas are broken up into four categories. The first category, System Activity, includes graphs for Services, Processes, phases, etc. It is our high level center where your initial troubleshooting will take place. The next four categories, Computation, Storage, and Memory, address potential resource bottlenecks. The Computation center shows graphs related to CPU usage, Storage shows hard drive/write usage, and memory – well, show memory usage. Later, we are going to look at specific graphs in a lot more detail.
In Part 2, we are going to create a baseline trace and start troubleshooting a slow startup! If you have any questions at all, just leave us a comment.