This may not seem like much of a “tool”, since it’s pretty passive, but when you have a server that’s getting old and failing, being able to quickly glance at what its performance is like can be a real benefit. And, for the past eight months, I’ve been running a server that, to be honest, was a little too old to be in production. People would complain about it pretty much constantly, even, I suspect, when it may not have been the actual problem they were suffering from. I’ve since replaced the server, but I kept running Systemometer on both the old server, which now serves as strictly a backup server, and the new, shiny, Windows 2012 server, just so everyone can see the difference.
But, let me be really specific about this; Systemometer is a configurable monitoring tool that shows system performance and resources in a spider chart. Seeing the varying shapes of displayed polygon, representing a visual pattern drawn based on normal, or critical, system states. Once you get used to it, this snapshot view helps to read the overall system status at a glance. Just looking at the screenshot in this post, which will enlarge if you click on it, you can see that a lot of information is displayed. Notice, for instance, that there are 12 “CPU”s listed. Since this is a modern, multi-core server, those are really just all the cores being displayed, with the current processor time in yellow and the average processor time in green. If I wanted to, I can also set Systemometer to display the maximal processor usage, but as this is a new server, I haven’t bothered to set that. The same goes for the number of processes the server is handling, as well as the number of threads. Also displayed is the physical and virtual memory usage, total drive space used and the hard drive seek time. Notice how almost everything falls well within that red circle on the display? That’s because the server is new and being used well below it’s capacity, by design. This is the second server upgrade I’ve done since I’ve been at this company, and I’d like to not have to do one again soon. That’s also why the number of threads is reading like it’s in the red, even though it’s not. The new server is so new that not all metrics have been calibrated to display correctly.
Also, notice that the two performance polygons are yellow and green. The yellow is the current usage while the green is the average usage. It may be hard to tell the difference between the two because I took this screen shot on a Sunday afternoon with minimal usage. Of course, the server being primarily a file server and an Active Directory server, the average usage is pretty constant in any case.
It may not be obvious from the screen shot, but I’m running this as a screen saver, which is only one option for using Systemometer. It can also be used as a kind of replacement performance monitor instead of using the built-in Task Manager for that function. Actually, one way I validated the results I was seeing from Systemometer was to run it next to Task Manager and compare the displayed performance information.
Personally, I like running it as a screen saver because I can quickly check on my server as I walk past the screen into or out of my office. Also, it seems to impress people who see it and can’t make heads or tails of what they’re seeing. It’s not big, fancy monitoring system, but unless you really know what you’re looking at, the average person isn’t going to figure that out!
Finally, the other reason I use Systemometer is that it’s free!
Yep, that’s right, absolutely free. Of course, it may not ever get updated again, but I’m okay with that, as long as it still works as it has been so far.