Baseline performance monitoring for new PCs

By | July 24, 2009

If you are a regular PC user, you probably notice your computer performance declining after a few weeks (or months) of regular use. If you gotten yourself a new machine and you like tinkering with Windows and want to get a baseline of its performance, you can do a simple baseline performance monitor to see the resource usage.

When I say new, I don’t mean you just bought it, I mean – before you installed multiple programs and/or began surfing the Web. Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 come with a variety of tools that help you monitor and further tune your computer’s performance. Establishing a baseline becomes relevant when you want to know what is using your resources and how much of it, in each case.

XP, Vista and Windows 7 are all object oriented operating systems, which mean all objects have properties of their own. One of the properties of object oriented operating systems are “counters” which monitor and count specific events of their objects.

If you are looking to collect a baseline of optimal performance in your machine there are two things to look at; monitoring and performance tuning. For monitoring you may want to put together a regular (weekly or daily) schedule of monitoring while your computer is working at its optimal speed. This should begin while your computer is either out of the box, or freshly formatted – In other words, new.

It is important to fully understand how your reacts when you are doing normal day to day activities with it.  To use the system monitor to monitor performance of your computer’s hardware including memory, processor, and hard disk, you can use the following steps regularly:

1) Go to Start>Control Panel>Administrative Tools

2) Open up the Performance window


3) Click on System Monitor

4) Click add on the tool bar (it’s the plus + sign)

5) Select Memory from the Performance Object drop down menu list

6) Choose Available Kbytes

7) Click Add

Repeat steps 5 through 7 for as many of the other objects that you might also wish to monitor. If you want to obtain a full baseline, you can monitor all the programs you are using. Once all of your objects are added you can close the Add window. However, leave the Performance window open.

Now it’s time to start using your computer as usual; surf the Web, open a text document, or access a network drive. Do all of the things you would usually do with your machine.

In the Performance window you should be able to see the baseline moving as you start and end new processes and applications. You may consider making a log of this in a Notepad or Excel document. Having documentation that shows the numbers reached when each application is turned on and off, or any combination of processes or applications is turned on or off, could be helpful down the road (either to you or a PC technician) when it comes to performance tuning and identifying bottlenecks or slowdowns.

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