The online home of John Pollard

Performance Counters Fun

Originally posted on my old MSDN blog

Recently had some issues setting up some custom perf counters to install and run from an ASP.Net page that I thought I'd share.

We began by using the information in which states:

"It turns out that the permission set required to update performance counters is much smaller than running as an Administrator or Power User.  In the registry key HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Perflib, set the Access Control List so that the necessary user has Full Control. In our original example, the ASPNET user would be granted Full Control, but access can be granted to anyone who needs to update a performance counter."

However I mistakenly assumed that as that setting those permissions would also enable the counters to be created, which is wrong. From the comments in we found out it's more complicated than that:

"For 2003 I did the following changes:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Perflib\009 - Added permissions for Network Service
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Services - Added permissions for Network Service
C:\WINNT\system32\perf*009.dat - Added full permissions for Network Service on all matching files.
After that it worked like a charm."

We didn't try the above solution, as after a little more thinking we gave up trying to install the counters on the fly and wrote some code that runs as part of the site installation (and hence runs as an Administrator which means it will definitely have permission to create the counters).

It's a lot cleaner doing it that way, and changes less permissions on the server which is always a good thing from a security point of view.

If you're interested. the code uses the System.Diagnostics.CounterCreationData class to create the counters on the web server if they're not already installed - see the documentation if required as it's pretty easy to use.