Monday, November 21, 2011

A little thing about reliability monitor- a note to self

Hi there everyone!

I've been a busy server grrl over these last several months, and am trying to catch up on my blogging. Lately I've been doing a lot of online livecasts and presentations. In order to do them, I've found myself doing much more in my facebook SPF group and twitter than here. (btw, the link for my SPF group in facebook is: for anyone interested)

My apologies for the delay in getting back to this venue. I plan to rectify that over the next few weeks.

To start, I was talking with someone at a conference in Sweden last week (that SEF 2011 event I mentioned in the sidebar). I'd just finished a monitoring session, and wished it could be longer because there are so many free and useful tools to monitor a server (SharePoint Foundation or otherwise), that it's hard to even mention them all in just an hour.

One of the tools I didn't get to talk about, because it required extra set up, was the Reliability Monitor. I brought it up because Performance Monitor for server 2008 can display a bad link in it's opening interface that refers to a Stability Monitor that doesn't exist in Server 2008 (or 2008 R2), and that what's left, the Reliability Monitor, doesn't work on the server out of the box.

I'd written an entry about it in my server edition blog on livespaces, but that was deleted by Microsoft while I was editing the SPF book. (yes, all that work gone...) So I thought I'd quickly rewrite it here.

What is Reliability Monitor anyway?

The Reliability Monitor pulls data from the Windows event logs concerning the performance and stability of the server. It ranks stability from 1 to 10, with 10 being very stable. It doesn't just graph the stability of the machine from day to day (or week, or month, however you want it displayed), it also displays the events that occurred in that time period, which you can click on to view additional data (should you need to act on those events). It also displays a list of events below the graph. You can even click a "problem report" and just see a window filled with a listing of problem events that have occurred (such as a firefox plug-in not working properly). Microsoft may be able to offer solutions for listed problems, but don't bank on it.

First thing you might notice is you can't find the Reliability Monitor anywhere. It's not under Administrative Tools, Accessories, or System Tools. It's actually listed under the Action Center in the Control Panel, as "View reliability history" (just to give you an idea as to how far this nifty tool has been deprecated)

Once you've click on the "View reliability history" link in the Action Center (it's in the Maintenance section), it will open a window displaying nothing useful- because it's not on by default.

To get Reliability Monitor to work, you need to:

  • Change a registry setting from 0 to 1
  • Change a scheduled task's "One time" task to the current date and time
  •  Run or enable the task
Once you've done that- you're good to go.

To demonstrate:

Go to the registry (type "regedit" in the start menu's search field, then click on the regedit object that comes up in the start menu list.

open the key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Reliability Analysis\WMI\WMIEnable

Change the value of WMIEnable from 0 to 1 (then click OK to save the change). It has to be 1 in order to be enabled.

Then close out of regedit.

After that you can start the Reliability Monitor's scheduled task so it checks the logs regularly for stability information.

To do that, open the Scheduled Tasks (start menu search field, type Task scheduler-- you can just type in the first couple of characters if you want to avoid typing out the whole thing-- and then select the Task Scheduler icon in the list).

The task is hidden, so you need to go to the View menu and enable "Show hidden tasks."

Open the Task Scheduler library folder on the left side of the window, then open the Microsoft, then Windows folders. Scroll to the RAC folder and select it.

Select RACtask and go to its Properties. In the properties of the task, select the Triggers tab.

On the triggers page, select the "One time" event, and click the Edit button. Note that it's date is probably sometime in 2008. Even though the task's settings state that it should run as soon as possible if its start date has passed, it will not run until you change that date to, essentially, now.

To do that, just change the time and date to the current date and maybe a minute in the future. And click OK.

Back in the Task Scheduler console, make sure the RACtask is select (I make sure the one time task is selected as well, just to be sure) and click Run to start the task. That should enable the task.

Be sure the task is not disabled, should you run into any problems. Also, for domain controllers- if the task still won't start, try changing the account to the System account, not Local Service. On non-DC's local service works perfect for me.

Then wait a few minutes, seriously only a few minutes, and then open the Reliability Monitor again.

It will display at least enough information to let you know it's working. Another interesting feature of the Reliability monitor, in addition to it's list of reliability details (most of which can be viewed in detail it their own window), is the View all problems report. It will display all problems, even those reported by 3rd party software and drivers, so you can see what might be effecting (or have ever effected) the stability of the server.

If you double click one of the items listed, it will open a more detailed report about the issue, with information you can use to find out things on the internet, or contact the provider for a solution.

So that's it-- Reliability Monitor a hidden little tool for monitoring your server that most people don't know they have or can't use because they don't know how to start it.

The final issue I have with it is accessing it. I don't like having to hit the start menu and search for it every time I want to use it. But trying to get a shortcut to it has turned out to be impossible (at least the easy ways that I know of). The best I could do is go to the Action Center in Control Panel and drag the flag icon in the address bar to the desk top, which will create a short cut (you knew you could do that, right?).

Then, at least, I can click the shortcut for the Action Center, then click the Maintenance heading, and then click View Reliability History to get to the Reliability Monitor.

I know, I know, it's not ideal. But remember, I didn't create this stuff, I only use it- just like you.

That's Reliability Monitor. Another thing you know, in case you might need it.