When Vista came out, certain new features were talked about more than others, like Flip3D or the indexed search capabilities. One feature that wasn’t really mentioned is the Vista Reliability and Performance Monitor. You may not have known that you have it, but you do. It’s built right in to Vista and it gives you an idea of your system’s overall stability. To get a better idea of what it’s about, Microsoft explains that “You can use Microsoft Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor to examine how programs you run affect your computer’s performance, both in real time and by collecting log data for later analysis. Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor uses performance counters, event trace data, and configuration information which can be combined into Data Collector Sets.”
Today we’ll be taking a visual walk through the Vista Reliability and Performance Monitor. For those of you that like graphs, you’ll be in heaven. There are all kinds of them! Before we get started, I should explain that the easiest way to get to this feature is to open the start menu and in the search box, type “reliability and performance monitor.” You can also go to the Control Panel and click on “Performance Information and Tools then click Advanced Tools, and then one of the options will be “Open Reliability and Performance Monitor.” If you have User Account Control (UAC) enabled, you’ll be prompted to provide administrative privileges to open the application.
Upon opening the Reliability and Performance Monitor, you’ll see the Resource Overview which is pictured below. This shows graphs of your real-time CPU usage, disk usage, network usage, and memory usage.
- CPU – gives you real-time version of the “Processes” section you’d find in the Task Manager (although not as detailed as the one the Task Manager offers)
- Disk – gives you a real-time snapshot of current disk usage
- Network – analyze the bandwidth that’s used for particular applications
- Memory – analyze memory usage based upon the applications that you currently have running
In the left side-pane under “Monitoring Tools” you’ll see Performance Monitor. This enables you to examine performance data in graph, histogram, or report form. Additionally, you can add counters by clicking the plus sign. Essentially this means that you’re selecting a specific part of the operating system that you want to monitor like the idle time for your hard drive or processor. You can also create custom Data Collector sets.
The Reliability Monitor is probably the most useful because it provides information about individual events that may have affected the system’s stability (like new software installations). The System Stability Chart gives you all kinds of information and covers five major issues:
- Software Installs/uninstalls
- Application Failures
- Hardware Failures
- Windows Failures
- Miscellaneous Failures
All of the little symbols like the red X’s mean something and you can click on each of them to get details. For example, I clicked on the red X shown below and it showed me that Firefox (an application failure) stopped working on November 30th. In the “Miscellaneous Failures” line you’ll see a bunch of X’s and when I click on them, it says “disruptive shutdown.” This meant that my computer was not shut down properly (due in part to my computer having issues coming out of stand-by after disconnecting from a dual-monitor setup).
You’ll also notice an index number to the right which will be between 1 and 10. One is the lowest while ten is the highest and the higher the number, the better. This number is the overall score — or the system stability index which measures how reliable your system is. The more failures you have, the lower your score will be.
Hopefully this article gave you a better idea of what Vista’ Reliability and Performance Monitor is all about. It’s definitely interesting to look through all of the graphs and see just how reliable your computer is. Did any of you find yourself surprised at how high or low your system index was?