Monthly Archives: February 2012

Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) Tool

Below is a guest-post by Terri, one of the managed Windows support engineers at OrcsWeb.


If you’ve ever run into the situation where you want to analyze performance data on Windows Server and don’t know what counters to collect or how to analyze the data, the PAL tool might be just what you need.

Yesterday, I found out about the Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) Tool, which drastically eases the process of Windows performance data analysis. The application is written specifically for Windows 7 64-bit, but I was able to install and run the application on Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit.

You can download the PAL application from CodePlex. The pre-requisites for the application are PowerShell 2.0 or greater, MS .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, and Microsoft Chart Controls for MS .NET Framework 3.5. I’m mentioning this here because I am positive I’m not the only person that doesn’t read the fine print when installing software and, unless you have a specific use for it, I’m sure that MS Chart Controls is not installed on your server.

This tool provides a GUI to pass arguments and parameters to the powerful PowerShell script that performs the heavy lifting. The GUI is a wizard that captures the information necessary to complete this process. You must provide the location of the counter log that will be analyzed, the Threshold file (which defines the counters and acceptable thresholds for each), questions about the system being checked, and the output directory for either an HTML or XML report.

As you can see from the screenshot below, there are quite a few pre-configured Threshold files including options such as .Net Framework, IIS (5,6, and 7), and SQL. These configuration files allow the user to target the specific application/process which needs to be analyzed in order to pinpoint the cause of the performance degradation.

Windows Server Performance Analysis

For my benchmark analysis, I ran the pre-defined System Performance Data Collector Set (DCS) from with-in Performance Monitor. This DCS runs for 60 seconds and gathers NT Kernel trace data and the most common system performance counters. By default, the files that are generated are stored in c:\perflogs\system\performance\servername_date-instance. Once perfmon completed gathering the data, it was time to take a spin PAL for a spin.

Now for the fun part. I started the application, entered all necessary data and walked away for the report to generate. Without the MS Chart Controls installed, this failed. When I checked back on the process, I had a ‘doh’ moment because of the error that was returned. It specifically stated that I was missing those controls and told me where I could download them from. That’s why I included this vital information at the beginning of this blog. After installing these controls, I ran the application again and got a very informative HTML report that I was able to provide to the client via his website.

PAL GUI

The report is broken down by timeframe and actual counter groups. Each link includes the number of alerts encountered during the timeframe or by the counter type. You can quickly scan the report to see any issues. In this example, there are alerts for Physical Disk:

Performance Analysis Outpool

The provided embedded link for the PhysicalDisk Read Latency Analysis takes you to the exact location within the report to see what the thresholds for the counter are and a graph of the data. There are also reference links included to TechNet articles that provide additional information to aid in resolving the alert.

Windows Server Performance Chart

Hopefully your applications will never cause problems where you need to use this application, but if they do, it can provide invaluable information to locate and resolve performance related occurrences.


For managed Windows server hosting support by people like Terri, check out OrcsWeb. More information about their solutions can be found here: Windows Cloud Servers, Dedicated Windows Server Hosting, PCI Hosting Solutions, Complete Care Managed Solutions (CCMS).

WordPress’s Insert More Tag

I was recently tipped to a neat feature that I hadn’t seen before in WordPress. Thank you to Jessica for informing users about it with her blog post.

You know how sometimes a blog homepage can get ridiculously long? Especially if the average post is long – or even one recent post is really long? Setting your blog homepage to show even just a few of your most recent posts can still run into this issue if you’re a marathon writer (or what seems like marathon writing to us sprinters).

Well, WP has a feature that inserts a “More” tag. When you have a long post you can break it up – ideally just after enough of the introduction paragraph to give users a good idea what the post is about – then the part before the “More” tag shows on the summary page with a small link that encourages the user to click through and read the entire post on its own page.

Where is this neat little trickster? When you have the Kitchen Sink showing, it’s right here noted in red below. Also in this image, noted in blue, is what the tag looks like from the management UI.

Here is what the post in the example above then looks like on the summary page.

And of course when you click on either the post title, or the “Read More” text, you go to the full post which looks no different whether the tag is included or not. Here’s the link to that specific post for your review:

http://bradkingsley.com/securing-asp-net-pages-forms-authentication-c-and-net-4/

Neat, huh? There are a number of other Kitchen Sink tricks that Jessica mentions in her blog post, so I encourage you to click over there now and check it out.

Happy hosting!

Microsoft SQL Server Upgrade Advisor

Before you embark on the task of upgrading from one version of Microsoft SQL Server to another, you can take a few steps to save yourself a ton of time. How? Simply run the Microsoft SQL Server Upgrade Advisor and let it automatically check for potential conflicts that might arise during or after the upgrade of your existing database to a newer version.

Here’s the link to the version to check against SQL Server 2012 RC0 (aka Denali):
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms144256(v=sql.110).aspx

 

Changing the table owner in SQL Server 2012

When OrcsWeb says they do Managed Windows Server Hosting, they really mean it. As part of that managed hosting, they often engage in beta programs and include their clients so that both the OrcsWeb staff and the end-users can get familiar with certain products prior to the release. One such product is Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (aka Denali), and an example of the type of troubleshooting and assistance provided is reflected below…

We ran into a situation today where we needed to change the owner of a table in Microsoft SQL Server 2012 RC0. In SQL Server 2008 R2 we would use the command:

sp_changeobjectowner ‘[BadUser].[NameOfTheTable]’, ‘dbo’

But when attempting that on SQL2012 it wouldn’t work. It was claiming that either the object didn’t exist or the command wasn’t valid for that object type.

I’m not sure if that is a bug or if they changed the functionality of that SPROC on purpose.

We were able to find a workaround though by changing the schema information with the following command:

alter schema dbo transfer [BadUser].[NameOfTheTable]

If someone knows why the first SPROC didn’t work and the second had to be used, please let the rest of us know by posting in the comments.

UPDATE: Looks like this is by design:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms143729(v=sql.110).aspx

That’s one of many functions depreciated in 2012 (and future versions).

Happy hosting!

Team Foundation Server Express

This is interesting news…

Soon, we will be announcing the availability of our VS/TFS 11 Beta. This is a major new release for us that includes big enhancements for developer, project managers, testers and Analysts. Over the next month or two, I’ll write a series of posts to demonstrate some of those improvements. Today I want to let you know about a new way to get TFS.

In TFS 11, we are introducing a new download of TFS, called Team Foundation Server Express, that includes core developer features:

  • Source Code Control
  • Work Item Tracking
  • Build Automation
  • Agile Taskboard
  • and more…

Click through to read the entire announcement from Brian Harry:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/bharry/archive/2012/02/23/coming-soon-tfs-express.aspx