Tools Tips and Tricks #1: Process Monitor

I recently wrote about importing a Process Monitor trace into SQL Server database table and crunch up the data to extract the events and call stacks. This prompted me to think about capturing data with Process Monitor and some things I learnt along way while using this tool working at CSS.

imageThe first tip is to disable any activity that you don’t want to capture or are not required for the issue that you are troubleshooting. The capture tracks three classes of operations: File System, Registry and Process. In the toolbar show on the left in the screenshot, you can enable/disable the following captures:

a. Registry activity
b. File System activity
c. Network activity
d. Process and Thread activity
e. Profiling events

More information about the above is available in the Process Monitor help file. image

The command line options specified are immensely helpful if you are scripting the capture of a trace using a batch file or if you are generating an automation routine to load the captured data into another data source. I had used /OpenLog and /SaveAs1 option to generate the XML file from the saved .PML file.

imageOne of the most useful options that I suggest using when capturing a Process Monitor trace is to use the backing file option (/BackingFile command line parameter or CTRL+B when using the GUI). This prevents using the page file as the backing store for trace capture and avoid running in unresponsive server issues while you are still capturing your trace and the paging file fills up. I normally point the backing file to a local drive on the machine which has sufficient amount of disk space.image

Process Monitor can use symbol information, if available, to show functions referenced on event stacks. You can point to the symbol path (local symbol cache or Microsoft Symbol Server: using Options –> Configure Symbols. Additionally, you can specify the path to the source files for the application in the same dialog. This will help you resolve the function calls using the symbol path and if a source path is present, open a text viewer dialog with the source line highlighted which is being referenced. The symbol path is needed when /SaveAs2 option is used for converting the .PML file to .XML format. Note that this option considerably increases the export time due to symbol resolution time involved.

I am starting a series tagged with “Tools Tips and Tricks” which will document the various tweaks that I use for data collection for the various data collection/analysis tools that I use on a day-to-day basic.


3 thoughts on “Tools Tips and Tricks #1: Process Monitor

  1. Pingback: Tools Tips and Tricks #3: Custom Rowsets using SQL Nexus « TroubleshootingSQL

  2. Pingback: Tools Tips and Tricks #7: PsExec as parent and ProcMon as child « TroubleshootingSQL

  3. Pingback: Canonical ACLs: You said wwwhhat? « TroubleshootingSQL

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