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Optimizers for virtual machines?

Looking for software to optimize the work of your virtual machines? Sometimes it's a good idea to use third-party solutions, sometimes not. Read this question and answer to see what the SearchServerVirtualization.com "office" thinks.

Do you recommend the use of virtual machine (VM) optimizers? Are there any issues we should be aware of?

While I haven't had any direct experience with the product you mentioned, I asked around the SearchServerVirtualization.com "office" for some opinions. We seem to be in agreement that it's by no means necessary to invest in third-party products to handle basic VM maintenance. Both VMware and Microsoft provide tools for maintaining hard disks.

For example, in Microsoft Virtual Server, you can use the Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) Pre-Compactor and options to shrink VHD files to improve performance. Additionally, you should treat VMs like your physical machines: Use disk defragmentation operations (both on the host and within guest operating systems) to maintain performance. Finally, if transferring large VHDs is an issue, compression utilities like WinRar or WinZip can help (though the compression ratios can vary dramatically based on disk contents).

We recommend that you thoroughly test any third-party solution before depending on it in a production environment. We would be interested to hear your experiences, if you should go that route. Instant weight loss for virtual hard disks would be a great promise to be kept. In any case, good luck!

This was last published in September 2006

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