Adjusting Windows 2000 Server Priorities, Part 2

In Part 2 of our series on how to prioritize Windows 2000's services, we look at some of the problems such tweaking can cause, and how to avoid them.

By Brien M. Posey | Posted Apr 11, 2001
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Last week, I explained that administrators may sometimes need to adjust the way that Windows 2000 Server prioritizes tasks so that the server can dedicate more processor time to fulfilling network requests. In that article, I showed you one generic method of controlling which tasks take priority. This time out, I'll show you another method of adjusting priorities that gives you more control over the individual Windows 2000 services.

Before I show you the method of adjusting thread priorities, it's important for you to know a few things about the way that priorities work. In Windows 2000, priorities are divided into several different categories which include Real Time, High, Above Normal, Normal, Below Normal, and Low. You can control how much processor time that the system dedicates to each tasks by adjusting the priority of each individual process that's running within your system.

Under normal circumstances, the highest priority that you should apply to any process is High. The Real Time priority is actually higher than the High priority, but the Real Time priority is used for things like interacting with the keyboard and mouse. If you set other types of processes to Real Time, you could severely slow the system, because other necessary processes aren't getting the necessary processor time.

You can cause the same problem by going through and setting a lot of processes to Below Normal or Low priority. In such a situation, potentially important processes won't get enough processor time, even though you haven't changed any of the priorities to Real Time. The trick is to know which processes that you can safely elevate the priority of and which processes you can safely decrease priorities for. There's actually a way to measure what type of impact that a priority change has on your system. Measuring the impact of priority changes will be the subject next week. For now though, let's take a look at how you can adjust a process's priority.

To adjust the priority of an individual process, press [Ctrl], [Alt], and [Delete] simultaneously, and click the Task Manager button on the resulting dialog box. When the Windows Task manager appears, select the Process tab. You'll now see a list of all of the processes that are running on the machine. Now, locate the process that you want to adjust and right click on it and select the Set Priority command from the resulting context menu. You'll now see a menu that gives you a choice of priorities that you can apply to the selected process. Before you change a priority, notice the CPU column next to the process. This column tells you how much processor time that the process is consuming. You can get a partial feel of the impact of your change by comparing the CPU time before and after your change. However, there's a much better way of measuring the impact of priority changes, which I'll be discussing next time out.

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance writer. His past experience includes working as the director of information systems for a national chain of health care facilities and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. Because of the extremely high volume of e-mail that Brien receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message, although he does read them all.

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