Spotlight on Windows, fantastic windows management tool, and it’s free!

July 6th, 2009

I’ve seen a lot of software meant for managing the performance of windows servers, obviously a lot of those tools are extremely specific (for services like SQL and Exchange etc) but for standard windows machines absolutely nothing I’ve seen matches the amazing GUI of Spotlight on Windows. Initially the GUI looks like it’s trying too hard, but actually it’s an amazing blend of static and real-time info. Here’s how it looks

Spotlight on Windows
click for bigger

In terms of content – if offers pretty much everything you’d expect:

CPU usage
CPU queue length
LAN usage
Disk I/O
Memory usage
Virtual Memory usage
Memory queue
Page file usage
Fixed Disk usage

it also shows the various buses between these objects and shows the pages/sec moving around the motherboard, this feature is sorely missing from many other management products, and it’s often key at determining what’s going on with your server. Each monitor has a helpful explanation in case you’re feeling a little knowledge-light.

My advice for this product would be as follows.

1. Download and Install from the Quest Software site (it’s free!)

2. Set-up your connections (File -> Connect)

3. Ensure Spotlight successfully connects and choose a 6 hour calibration period.

This last step is most important, ideally you want to let Spotlight gather data from the machine over a time-span where it’s under some load, ie a representative snapshot of its daily load. Otherwise you’ll spend a lot more time in future customising the alert levels for usage which you know is “normal”.

Once all your connection are calibrated you’ll have a management tool which can tell you more about a servers performance in a single glance than you’d think possible.

Thanks to Quest Software.

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