Most Windows users know the Task Manager app to monitor and kill open applications running on the computer. In addition, you can also use Services app to view and stop any services. However, many users do not know that there is a Performance Monitor app available in Windows to monitor system performance. You can create reports with custom data sets for tracing and analyzing system performance. In this article, we will explore how to use Performance Monitor tool in Windows 11.
Note: There is also a Resource Monitor app to monitor the CPU, memory, network and disk usage. You can use this app to find high resource consuming processes and kill them. Though you can find a link to Resource Monitor from Performance Monitor app, they are two different apps.
Opening Performance Monitor
Click on the Search icon in taskbar and type “performance” in the search box. This will show the Performance Monitor app in the result and click on “Open” or “Run as administrator” link to launch the app.
When launching, the Performance Monitor app will look something like below showing the real-time usage of processor, memory and disk. Go to “View > Customize” menu to change appearance of the app by enabling or disabling the available items.
Using Performance Monitor
You can use Performance Monitor for simply viewing the current system resource usage or create custom reports for troubleshooting purposes. The tool has three sections as you will see in the sidebar:
- Monitoring Tools – used to monitor system performance with counters like processing, battery usage, etc.
- Data Collector Set – use performance counters and events to generate reports for analysis. You can use ether default system data set or create custom data set for report generation. In addition, you can create alerts and trigger actions when the threshold is reached.
- Reports – view system and custom generated reports.
Let us explore how to use these sections in Performance Monitor app.
Expand “Monitoring Tools” section and click on “Performance Monitor” option. By default, the tool will show processor usage based on time (%Processor Time) as a counter and show the graph in real-time.
Just above the graph, you can find tools to customize the graph or modify the input counters. Click on the “Delete” icon to delete the current graph and then click “Add” icon. This will open “Add Counters” pop-up showing huge list of counters.
- First, select the “<Local computer>” for monitoring your system. It is also possible to select any network computer which you can remotely access.
- Next, select one or multiple performance counters from the list – for example, you can select “Battery Status”. This will show the instances in the “Instances of selected object” text box.
- Click on “Add >>” button to include the selected counter.
- You can view all included counters under “Added counters” section.
- Finally, click “OK” button to include the counters in the graph.
The real-time graph will start showing all the counters you have added which you can use for diagnostics and troubleshooting purposes. If you always want to use the selected counters, then right-click on the graph and select “Save Settings As…” option to save the settings.
Click on the properties icon from the toolbar and go to “Data” tab to customize the graph’s color, line width, scale and style. You can also change the “Source” to logfile to view the performance based on custom recorded logfile. We will explain how to get the logfile in the below “Creating Custom Collector Set” section.
Data Collector Sets and Reports
There are two sections under this heading – System and User Defined. The “System” section here will show the diagnostic, performance and default/startup events running in your system. “System Diagnostics” and “System Performance” sections contain default parameters to generate resource usage reports. Right-click on “System Diagnostics” or “System Performance” and select “Start” option. This will start generating the reports and again right-click and select “Stop” to stop the report generation.
You can view the generated reports under the corresponding “Reports > System” sections.
The “Event Trace Sessions” and “Startup Event Trace Sessions” contain list of events running on your computer. These events provide traces to the system data collector sets. Double click or select “Properties” option from right-click context menu to view the details of any event.
Remember, these are system events and you will not be able to stop/start an event from here to create data collect set for reporting. You need to use the manual option as explained below for that purpose.
Creating Custom Data Collector Set
As mentioned, you cannot modify any data under “System” section. If you want to create custom reports and alerts, the create user defined counters for monitoring. Select “User Defined” option under “Data Collector Sets”, right-click and select “New > Data Collector Set” option.
This will launch a wizard which will guide you through different screens. On the first screen, enter the name and choose whether you want to create a new data set from the template or use manual option.
The template option will show the list of available templates like Basic, System Diagnostics, System Performance and WDAC Diagnostics. For example, if you want to create report for checking hardware resources of your computer, then choose “system Performance” option and click “Finish” button.
The manual data collector set creation is for advanced users and offers various information like performance counters, event tracing and system configuration. You can also create a performance counter alert to trigger actions when the threshold is reached for the selected counter. We will explain creating alerts in next section. For creating a manual data collector set, select “Create data logs” and select all the checkboxes under that option.
Click “Next” button to go to next screen. Here, click “Add” button and select the performance counters that you want to create log as explained in the above “Monitoring Tools” section. Select a counter and click “Remove” button to delete it from the list.
You can finish the process here or click “Next” to add event trace providers. Click “Add” button and select the events that you want to include in the data collector set.
On the next screens, you can select the registry path to add a key and the root directory to save your data. Finally, click on the “Finish” button to create a manual data collector set. You can generate reports from custom data selector set by right-clicking and selecting “Start” option. When the report is finished, you will see the logfile path under “Output” column. You can go to this path in File Explorer to get the logfile which you can use in Performance Monitor tool and analyze the data as explained in above “Monitoring Tools” section.
After starting a data collector set, Performance Monitor tool will collect data for 60 seconds and generate a report. This is the case for both user defined and system data collector sets. You can view the status by selecting the report under “Reports > User Defined” section . If the report is not finished, you will see a notification mentioning “Collecting data for 60 seconds”.
After the report is generated, you can view it and use the details for troubleshooting and analysis purposes.
If you see too many reports are generated, right-click and stop the running data collector sets. You can also simply delete a report by right-clicking and on the report and select “Delete” from the menu.
Settings Performance Alerts to Trigger Actions
If you want to set performance alerts, select “Create manually (Advanced)” option when creating a user defined data collector set. On the next screen, select “Performance counter alert” and click “Next” button. Click “Add” button and select the counter for your alert.
After selecting the counter, you can set the limit for triggering the alert. If you have selected multiple counters, make sure to select each counter and set the corresponding limits.
Click “Next” button, select “Save and close” option and click “Finish” button.
After creating an alert, right-click on it and select “Properties” option.
On the alert properties dialog box, go to “Alert Action” tab and select the data collector set from the list. When the alert limit is reached, the tool will trigger the collector set selected here and start generating report.
If you want to trigger a task, go to “Alert Task” tab and set the task that you want to trigger.
As you can see Performance Monitor app is a comprehensive app in Windows to monitor your system performance. You can make use of the system data set to generate performance reports or create custom reports as per your need. The app is especially useful when you want to test a program and find its impact on the system performance.