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Arranging virtual hard disks on host machine's physical disks

What's the best way to arrange a set of virtual hard disks on my host machine's physical disks?

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The best way to arrange virtual hard disks is to mount them on separate physical drives, whenever possible, for the best possible parallelism. If you have a server with three drives which is hosting two virtual operating systems, you can place the host operating system on drive #1, and the virtual drives for each guest operating system on drives #2 and #3, respectively.

Sometimes you'll need to balance this against your available resources. If you have a system that has four drives and you're emulating four servers on that machine, you can place each of the virtual drives for the three most commonly-accessed servers on separate physical drives. The least-used machine can share the same hard drive as the host operating system. This cuts down on the amount of contention between the guest operating systems and the host operating systems.

If you have the money and the drive bay space, it doesn't hurt to always dedicate a drive to a given virtual server whenever possible—in other words, to link a virtual disk to a physical disk. Keep in mind that this is not for system disks, but for data disks; you can't run a virtual server's OS files from a linked disk.

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This was first published in May 2006

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