One of my favorite features of Windows 7 is Data Collector Sets. A DCS can be used to diagnose problems with the operating system, hardware or applications. A DCS can also provide information that can be used to increase the overall performance and efficiency of Windows 7. Data Collector Sets are found in the Performance Monitor console located in Control Panel/Administrative Tools. Data Collector Sets are in part based on Counter Logs that were included in older versions of Windows such as Windows 2000 and Windows XP. As with Counter Logs Data Collector Sets records data to the Perflogs folder which is usually found on the root of the C drive. Counter Logs allowed administrators to baseline a system and compare performance data over time. This was a manual process and it could take time to piece together an overall picture of a computer health and performance.
Windows 7’s pre-built System Diagnostics and System Performance Data Collector Sets make assessing a computer’s health and performance much easier than ever. System Diagnostics includes 35 data collectors that monitor items such as the BIOS, Antivirus, SMART disk check, Video and Memory. The best part is that Windows will generate a nicely formatted report based on the recorded data. The report summarizes and categorizes the collected data and flags any critical item such as memory, disk or processor that is out of normal range. The report also will note the absence of Antivirus protection or device drivers and will check the state of system services. I recently used a report to identify and correct a device driver issue on a Windows 7 system. Comparing reports created at different dates can help to pinpoint the cause of subtle problems that develop slowly over weeks and months. Data Collector Sets such as System Diagnostics can be setup to record data automatically on a schedule of your choosing.
If the pre-built DCSs provided in Windows 7 are not quite to your liking customize them by adding additional collectors and save the new DCS with a unique name. The reports your DCS will generate can also be customized and printed.
Author: Mark Menges