Interpreting Monitoring Settings in SBS 2003 [Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices]

Howdy there – I am Harry Brelsford, author of this SBS 2003 book and each day I like to hold a virtual book reading. Today’s post up relates to understnding the Performance Monitoring settings inside of SBS 2003.


Harry Brelsford, CEO at smb nation

Microsoft Small Business Specialist SBSC, MBA, MCSE, MCT, MCP, CNE, CLSE, CNP

PS – did u know I host an annual conference in Seattle each october for SBSers and SMB consultants? This year we help launch SBS 2008 and Essential Business Server (EBS) between October 4-6!

Interpreting Monitoring Settings

After you’ve configuring the native SBS 2003 monitoring capabilities, you’ve got to interpret the information. That’s exactly what this section will do, starting first with the Server Performance Report and then looking at the Server Usage Report.

 So here’s how to interpret the Server Performance Report.

1                    Log on as Administrator on the PRESIDENT workstation with the password Husky9999!

2                    Launch Outlook 2003 from Start, E-mail. If necessary, configure Outlook for the Administrator using the Exchange e-mail server selection (past Outlook versions gave you a Corporate e-mail con­figuration option) and point it to the SPRINGERS1 server machine.

3                    Notice that several reports have arrived. Some acknowledge the server monitoring configurations are complete. But hopefully you’ve received the true SPR as seen in Figure 12-6 Open this e-mail which should be labeled Server Performance Report – SPRINGERS1.


Figure 12-6

The improved daily server report in SBS 2003 is more attractive, relevant, and powerful.


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Let’s take a moment to interpret the SPR in Figure 12-6. At the top of the report, there are several summary items at the top of the report, all of which can be easily expanded into more detailed categories by either clicking the Details link or simply scrolling down the body of the e-mail. The first line item in the Summary area, reflecting how long the server has been running, is a dramatic improvement over the report in SBS 2000 where you received uptime expressed in seconds (it’s true). In Figure 12-6, you can see the server has been running for over six days.

Something else in the Summary area of interest is the fifth line discussing the backup function. In the fall 2003 hands-on labs, students objected to attaching the native backup log to the SPR when the backup status was clearly communicated as a report line item. They were curious what the intent of the exercise was. Here’s the deal. The backup line entry is a great at-a-glance look at the success of the back-up function. However, many SBSers also like to delve deeper and peek at the backup logs to see specific backup activity. Heck, some SBSers don’t take anyone’s word for it and won’t accept the fact a successful backup occurred until they’ve personally conducted a successful restore. Fair enough. And the SPR doesn’t have a restore report line item if you missed that.

So go ahead and view each of the following major SPR areas:

          Performance Summary. Tells the information I like to see, including memory in use and free disk space. I just love the historical compari­son to a month ago (see the Last Month column). This is shown in Figure 12-7.


Chapter 12 Monitoring SBS 2003

Figure 12-7

This is a very useful section of the SPR.


                      Top 5 Processes by Memory Usage. This tells which processes have been naughty and which have been nice in the memory consump­tion department!

                      Top 5 Processes by CPU Usage. This would be good for finding an errant process that is consuming excessive processor time.

                      Backup. Enough said already.

                      Auto-started Services Not Running. This is an interesting way to view services with the start flag that have stopped (this could aide in trouble­shooting performance matters). And as Eduardo (SBS 2003 program manager who owns the performance monitoring area) added, if an auto-start service has stopped, it’s a good indication that something is amiss.

                      Critical Alerts. This might reflect some intermittent performance nasties, such as processor queue buildup.


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          Critical Errors in Application Log. Shown in Figure12-8, this often reflects some deep information that can greatly assist you in trouble­shooting the toughest problems.

Figure 12-8

This looks like a trip to the TechNet Disc to resolve: MAD Monitoring thread error.


          Critical Errors in Directory Services Log, DNS Server log, File Repli­cation Service Log, Security Log, and System Log.

BEST PRACTICE: What to do with all this data? The answer is to use common sense. A few time-tested rules known by many administrators (going back to the early Novell CNE days) are:

          Add more disk space when you have less than 20 percent free space. Also make sure disks are healthy and not excessively fragmented.

Chapter 12 Monitoring SBS 2003

                      A processor that exceeds 80 percent utilization over several days suggests a process upgrade is in order.

                      RAM memory consumption should be monitored to make sure it doesn’t grow excessively and you have sufficient free RAM memory (say 25 percent free).

                      Network traffic. Watch for broadcast storms that could slow network traffic.


Because the performance monitoring area, such as specific settings, quickly ascends into the advanced category, I’ll defer deeper discussion to my advanced SBS 2003 text. You can also consult Microsoft TechNet and my Windows 2000 Server Secrets (IDG) book for richer chatter on this.


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