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While Windows NT has been around for quite some time, it is normally used only by corporations or the technical sophisticate. Windows NT 4.0 is the first version to offer the home user a more friendly interface along with additional software compatibility. With today’s version you can run many more consumer applications. Most of these are designed for Windows 95, but will operate under Windows NT as well. Microsoft has done a good job in making Windows NT more compatible and easier to use, but they still haven’t made Windows NT as easy to optimize as their other operating systems. This isn’t too surprising as Windows NT has far more configuration options then their other operating systems.

Whether you are new to Windows NT or have been using it for quite some time, doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that you are willing to explore the options available to you in making Windows NT perform better. While many of the concepts—such as mirrored sets, duplexed mirror sets, striped sets with parity, and clustering—presented in this book only apply to Windows NT Server, many more apply to both Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server. Whenever possible, I have tried to point out the features and configuration options that will improve the performance of both versions of Windows NT.

The purpose of this book is to show you—the reader—how to get the most out of your Windows NT computer whether you use Windows NT Server or Windows NT Workstation. Rather than take an esoteric look at performance tuning and optimization, this book teaches you how to:

  Choose hardware to build a better Windows NT computer.
  Use your existing hardware in different ways to create a more efficient Windows NT computer.
  Implement redundant, or fault tolerant, disk systems to improve operating system efficiency and data protection.
  Use the Performance Monitor to optimize your Windows NT computer.
  Use advanced troubleshooting techniques to maintain services and device drivers, dig deep into the registry to find service and device driver dependencies, repair a damaged registry, and interpret the infamous “Blue Screen of Death” that occurs during a kernel core dump.

Who Should Read This Book

This book is written for any reader that would like to know more about how to tune and optimize Windows NT. Where possible, it uses step-by-step instructions to use the configuration tools built in to Windows NT to improve its operation. Where step-by-step instructions are not possible, it uses the discussion model with examples to illustrate the solution along with the problem. The primary goal of this book is to show you how to solve performance problems yourself using the techniques presented here. If this book helps you to solve one performance problem, then I will be satisfied that I have accomplished this goal.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into the following parts:

Part I—Introduction

  Chapter 1: This chapter introduces the Windows NT design. It includes information about the way Windows NT works as well as what it was designed to accomplish. This information can be quite useful to you in determining if Windows NT is the right operating system for you in the first place.
  Chapter 2: This chapter uses a step-by-step methodology to help you prepare for your installation of Windows NT and describes the various methods you can use to install Windows NT—from floppies, CD-ROM, or from a network share.

Part II—Measuring Performance

  Chapter 3: This chapter discusses measuring the performance of your system. Understanding this chapter is critical to understanding later chapters.
  Chapter 4: This chapter introduces the Performance Monitor. The Performance Monitor is the primary tool you will use to find a performance bottleneck, so it pays to understand the various operating characteristics of the tool.
  Chapter 5: This chapter takes one more step in the performance arena by demonstrating how to use a performance database for long-term performance analysis. It also discusses various tools you can use to capture, export, import, and examine performance data. The goal here is to demonstrate methods to spot utilization trends, and to find and correct performance related problems.

Part III—Optimizing Performance

  Chapter 6: This chapter shows you how to use the tools provided with Windows NT to spot specific performance related problems. These problems are divided into processor, memory, disk, and network specific components.
  Chapter 7: This chapter describes the various methods you have to improve the performance of your system at the hardware level. It discusses specific items to look for when purchasing a new computer, options to upgrade your current computer, and methods to use your existing hardware more efficiently.
  Chapter 8: This chapter describes how a network works and various methods you can use to improve the performance of your network.

Part IV—Fault Tolerance And Data Integrity

  Chapter 9: This chapter describes the options provided with Windows NT Server to protect your data and how to best utilize these options. The primary focus is on learning how to use mirror sets, duplex mirror sets, and striped sets with parity to protect your data while at the same time improving the performance of your I/O subsystem.
  Chapter 10: This chapter looks at several clustering implementations to show you how a cluster can provide server redundancy, fault tolerance, and at the same time improve your server’s performance.

Part V—Advanced Troubleshooting

  Chapter 11: This chapter examines some of the more common problems you may encounter while trying to troubleshoot a problematic Windows NT system. The focus of the chapter is file structure—where Windows NT keeps specific items—and the examination of files to solve version conflicts.
  Chapter 12: This chapter demonstrates how to maintain your Windows NT services and devices in running order. It discusses the service control manager model and how to manage your services and devices using the Control Panel and command line tools. It also discusses how to examine the registry to determine service and device dependencies.
  Chapter 13: This chapter teaches you to use the Registry Editor effectively. The chapter also demonstrates how to use available tools to maintain your registry as well as to repair a damaged registry.
  Chapter 14: This chapter describes the various facets of a core dump as well as explains how to find specific information to help you determine the problem. It includes a comprehensive list of kernel error codes to help in your efforts to resolve a recurring problem.

Part VI—Capacity Planning

  Chapter 15: This chapter helps you determine the resources you will need in long-term network management. It describes various types of network clients and servers along with specific minimum recommendations to give you an idea of what each client or server type requires for acceptable performance.


  Appendix A: This appendix contains a comprehensive list of the Performance Monitor object counters along with a corresponding description. This should make it easier for you to find the object counters to use to obtain performance specific data on your computer.
  Appendix B: The glossary contains many technical terms to help you understand more about how Windows NT works.

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