Produce A System Health Report For Your PC


Some of the most useful utilities for troubleshooting your PC are actually bundled as standard with Windows. However, they're often hard to find and even harder to understand. But when you get to know about them, and how to use them to your advantage, they can be very useful indeed.

Perfmon main windowMy favourite tool at the moment is called Perfmon. It's the built-in Windows performance monitor utility, but as well as displaying data about current system usage it can also produce a really useful report for you. Assuming you're using Windows 8.1, here's how to do it.

First, go to the charms bar by swiping your mouse into the top corner of your screen, and search for Performance Monitor. This will open Perfmon.

Now, in the left hand pane, expand the Data Collector Sets feature by clicking its little arrow, and then expand the System option in the same way.

Next, right-click on System Diagnostics and then choose Start. Windows will now start monitoring your PC for around a minute. While this is happening, click the Reports option in the Perfmon left hand pane. Expand it, by clicking its small arrow, then expand System, and then expand System Diagnostics. Click on one of the reports shown (check its time and date) to view it, and you'll see a comprehensive report as shown in the screen shot below.

As you can see, there's a whole lot of data about how all the aspects of your PC and operating system are working, which is a great place to start looking for ways to improve your computer's performance or troubleshoot problems. The "hot files report" area is especially interesting. It shows you which files on your disk are being accessed most frequently.

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The main problem with performance tools is that the developer always assumes the user has the knowledge of a computer technician. There is rarely an explanation (in simple layman terms) for what all the data represents. Graphs no matter how attractive are really of little value unless there are benchmarks to use as a point of reference.

I got an error shortly after i clicked on start of "System Diagnostics":

[quote]When attempting to start the Data Collector Set the following system error occurred:

The Data Collector Set or one of its dependencies is already in use.[/quote]

Anybody know how to solve this? I know this is not the forums, so if im the only one...

I was disappointed that this otherwise useful article failed to mention and provide a link to v.laurie's earlier piece, which gave instructions for people using Windows 7. That is still a very widely used OS. I shouldn't have had to search through the comments to find Laurie's mention of the earlier article.

I just checked. It is exactly the same in Windows 7 so there is no need to provide a seperate link.. Go to start and type perfmon in the search bar. Click on perfmon to open the Performance Monitor program. Then follow the instructions as stated above.

Thanks for your response. I'm happy to know that the instructions are the same for Windows 7, but in that case it would have been easy and helpful to make that clear in the article, rather than mentioning only Windows 8.

could not find hot files; got many graphs on the one page - not sure how to get what you are talking about

Great tip! On Windows 8.1 Pro, in the "Run" dialog, simply type "perfmon", and the app will open right away!

In Win 8.1 with Classic Shell with the Charms turned off, an easier way to get to Perfmon is thru the search window in the lower left windows pop up. Just enter "Perfmon" and click on Perfmon the Programs (top) section.

Never could find the "hot files report". ??

Perfmon reports for Windows 7 systems were described in a previous TSA article.