Using the Process Viewer
In the last two parts of this series, we looked at how to adjust the priorities of the various processes in Windows 2000. In doing so, I mentioned that you need to be careful about setting priorities too high or too low, because you could disrupt the systems ability to run smoothly. In this article, we'll look at a method of measuring the impact of the priority adjustments as you make them.
This method involves using a Windows 2000 support tool called Process Viewer. If you havent yet installed the Windows 2000 Support Tools, youll need to do so before continuing. To do so, insert your Windows 2000 Server CD. When you see the CDs splash screen, select the option to explore the CD. Now, navigate to the \SUPPORT\TOOLS directory and run the Setup program. When Setup completes, you can run the Process Viewer utility.
Open the Run prompt and enter PVIEWER. Process Viewer allows you to see exactly how priorities effect a process. The Utilities main window contains a list of every process thats running on the machine. The list also displays how much processor time the process is using, along with the percentage of processor time that it uses for user and privileged operations. The utility also contains a Kill Process button that you can use to shut down any non-critical process.
As you select a process, you can also change its priority by choosing either the Very High, Normal, or Idle radio button in the Priority section beneath the process list. After youve changed a process' priority, you can test the impact of the change by clicking the Refresh button and looking to see how processor time is now being distributed.
Each process is composed of one or more individual threads. The window at the bottom of the screen displays the threads that are associated with the selected process. You can even view how much processor time that individual threads are consuming. Although you cant change the priorities of individual threads, you can view a threads current priority. To do so, simply select the thread and look at the radio buttons to the left of the list of threads. The selected radio button indicates the priority of the selected thread.
Finally, the Process Viewer can also be used to determine memory usage. The Process Memory Used section displays the working set and the heap usage. However, you can gain more detailed information about the way that an individual process is using memory by selecting the process and then clicking the Memory Detail button. Unfortunately, you cant view memory statistics for individual threads.
Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance writer. His past experience includes working as the director of information systems for a national chain of health care facilities and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. Because of the extremely high volume of e-mail that Brien receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message, although he does read them all.