PowerShell Get-Counter Cmdlet

 PowerShell Get-Counter

PowerShell's Get-Counter provides an alternative technique to employing Perfmon.  Normally it's easy to be enthusiastic about PowerShell, but in the case of Get-Counter, I would not attempt to create scripts until I had a working knowledge of Performance Monitoring.

Topics for PowerShell's Get-Counter

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Our Mission

Success or failure of Get-Counter missions depends on having clear objectives.  You need a working knowledge of Performance Monitoring because you need to make sense of strings such as:

"\Memory\Available Bytes"
"\Processor(_total)\% processor time"
"\LogicalDisk(_Total)\% Free Space"

Once you beg, borrow or copy the correct Performance counter, then preceding with Get-Counter is the easy part.  However, all is not plain sailing, you need to be able to interpret the data, and probably save to file (Out-File).

Example 1: Check Available Memory

The purpose of this script is to display the memory available on a machine called Win8, the units are Mbytes.  Incidentally, I cannot find a counter for Gigabytes.

# Employ PowerShell to measure computer data

Get-Counter -Counter "\Memory\Available MBytes"

Note 1:  The value for -Counter contains spaces, thus you need to enclose "\Memory\Available MBytes" in speech marks.

Typical result for Get-Counter

Timestamp                   CounterSamples
---------                       --------------
06/06/2013 10:33:32   \\win8\memory\available mbytes :
                                4332

Research More Performance Counters

This is how I discovered memory, processor and other computer performance counters.

The -ListSet parameter here reminds me of Get-Eventlog's -List, in this instance we can enumerate the processor performance counters.

Clear-Host
Get-Counter -ListSet processor | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Counter

Note 1:  You really do need the full parameter name -ListSet.  PowerShell has lots of cmdlets that use just -List, but Get-Counter is NOT one of them.

Note 2:  Pure -ListSet * returns so many CounterSetNames that is why I filtered the command to display just the processor counters.  Also note that -ListSet on its own does not work, furthermore you need that space between -ListSet and the * wildcard.

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Example 2: Real-life Task For Get-Counter

Enough doom and gloom.  If I have not put you off, then you must be keen to master Get-Counter, so here is a working example to monitor the processor.

# PowerShell Get-Counter Processor Example
Get-Counter -counter "\processor(_total)\% processor time" -continuous

Example 2a: Configure -SampleInterval Also, Save to File

# PowerShell Get-Counter Processor Example
Get-Counter -counter "\processor(_total)\% processor time" `
-SampleInterval 10 -MaxSamples 5 # | Out-File "C:\logs\processor.ps1"

Note 3:  You probably need to adjust C:\logs\processor.ps1 to a valid path on your computer.

Get-Help for Get-Counter

Thanks to parameters - some call them switches - you can modify the commands output to get the result you are looking for.  As usual, Get-Help is the key cmdlet.

# Research Get-Counter Parameters
Clear-Host
Get-Help Get-Counter -Full

Note 4:  This is how I discovered ListSet.  PowerShell's examples show how you can tabulate just the names of the counters thus:

# PowerShell's Get-Counter List Processor Counters
Clear-Host
(Get-Counter -ListSet Processor).Paths

Note 5: The key point is that .Paths is property of Get-Counter -ListSet Processor, a fact I discovered by piping the command into Get-Member.

Example 3: Monitor Process Virtual Bytes

While this is a real-life example to display memory usage of processes, it's also meant to give you a template which you can alter to suit your project.  For example, you could change 'Virtual Bytes' for 'Working Set', or alternatively, you could choose a completely different counter, for example 'Memory' or 'Processor'.

Clear-Host
$Proc = Get-Counter "\Process(*)\Virtual Bytes" -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
$Proc.CounterSamples | Sort-Object CookedValue -Descending `
| Format-Table InstanceName, CookedValue -auto

Note 5: The key to this is example is 'CookedValue'.

InstanceName          CookedValue
------------              -----------
_total           13650411520
powershell        949010432
iexplore           673783808
svchost           439242752
winlogon           59584512
dllhost              58359808
system               5033984
smss                  4120576
........
idle 0

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Example 4: WMI Alternative to Get-Counter

This example maybe a step too far, or it may just alert you do a parallel technique, where you employ WmiObject instead of Get-Counter.

This, and similar scripts, will only return data if you are logged on as an administrator.

# PowerShell Performance and WMI
$Disk = Get-WmiObject -class Win32_PerfRawData_PerfDisk_LogicalDisk
$Disk | Get-Member

Note 5:  The above little script reveals over 50 disk properties.  The main features of these counters are Read or Write, Average or Percentage.

Research Similar PowerShell Counter Cmdlets

# PowerShell Counter Cmdlet Research
Clear-Host
Get-Command -Noun Counter

The above script reveals the sister commands Import-Counter and Export-Counter. While it's moderately easy to see what these cmdlets do, I have never seen anyone use them in real-life.   See more on PowerShell's Get-Counter

Summary of PowerShell Get-Counter Cmdlet

To be frank, as someone who is a minor expert in both PowerShell and performance monitoring I would encourage to seek other methods of achieving your goals before turning to Get-Counter.

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See More Windows PowerShell Examples of Real-life Tasks

PowerShell Tutorials  • PowerShell Examples  • IpConfig  • Get-Counter  • PowerShell NetSh

Monitor Performance - PowerShell  • PowerShell temp   • PowerShell Delete Temporary files

PowerShell WOL (Wake-on-Lan)  • Services   • Change Computer Description Registry

Please email me if you have a better example script. Also please report any factual mistakes, grammatical errors or broken links, I will be happy to correct the fault.

 

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