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Slow virtual machines

A reader isn't happy with the performance of his test virtual machines. He went to expert Anil Desai for advice. Read this tip to get some general advice on getting more speed out of your VMs.

We have started using Microsoft Virtual Server for a small number of test environments and have noticed that there is a considerable lack of performance -- even when only one virtual machine is running.

We have adhered to best practices according to various Microsoft white papers, however this doesn't seem to help at all.

Do you have any pointers on where to start looking to get the best performance out of a virtual environment?

The term "considerable lack of performance" is rather nebulous, but I'll try to provide some advice. I'm assuming that you mean that performance of one or more subsystems (CPU, memory, disk, or network) is not running as fast as you'd like. And, compared to running on a physical server, response and throughput is significantly slower. Granted, there will always be some performance overhead related to virtualization.

However, I recommend trying to isolate the actual bottlenecks using tools such as the Windows System Monitor or third-party benchmarking and performance utilities. You'll likely find an area to focus on. For example, if you find that there's an excessive amount of paging within the VM (virtual machine), you might want to increase the physical memory allocation. There are methods for addressing issues such as disk-related contention, CPU competition and so on.

Rest assured: It's certainly possible to address many virtualization-related performance issues. It will, however, take some time and effort. (Note: These same techniques would apply to troubleshooting performance problems on a physical server, as well.) Good luck!

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