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VMWAre Server 2 High CPU Utilization in Guests

Posted on 2009-07-02
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I have 2 VMWare guests (Both Server 2003, 32 bit) that I migrated from VMWare Server Ver 1.0. to VMWare Server 2. These are the only guests running in this server. While host CPU utilization is in single digits (good!) the guests are running 40-70  percent utilization all the time. Even when nothing is running. Worse, when I try to add up all the proccesses' CPU percentages in a VM, I don't come close to what the overall total for that VM. This is with "show processes from all users". I saw an article on the VMWare site about high utilization in inactive machines but it referred to ESX. I'm not running that. Please help.
Question by:MIkeRKaplan
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 24766140
How much cpu did you give the guests and which processes are taking all the memory?
Did you upgrade the vmware tools?
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 24766154
Offcourse i meant, which processes are claiming the cpu :)

Author Comment

ID: 24766970
I attached 2 jpg's of screen prints of task manager which should answer your question about what processes are taking up the CPU. This is from 1 VM, but I believe the same thing is happening to the other one.

this one has 2.5g Gb of memory. I upgraded the VMWare tools.


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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 24767051
It looks normal, but the wmi process is taking up a high cpu (i think this should not be so high). Do you have any monitoring program running which checks the server trough wmi?
And offcourse the user todd is taking up a lot of resources (couple of time mmc etc)

Author Comment

ID: 24767665

I don't have any monitoring program running that checks server trough wmi. Todd is monitoring what is going on as he noticed a slowdown in an idle machine also. This was not a problem in VMWare Server  Any ideas why now in version 2? I feel that something is not right with the VMWare server install, but don't know what it is. If this is normal, I'm moving on  to Hyper-V, another Microsoft product or back to Server version 1.
LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 24771670
What services are these guests hosting ? (Domain Controllers, DNS or DHCP Servers)

Author Comment

ID: 24772019
VM1 is a web server with SQL server 2005 and IIS running on it. At this time VM1 is not in production. No one is logged in. VM2 only runs a Kerio Mail Server for 5 accounts. That's it. No domain controllers, no DNS servers and no DHCP. These are plain jane VM's. Please keep in mind VM1 and VM2 ran fine on VMware server 1 except I ran out of horsepower. I had a smaller processor installed then and could only run VM1. No high cpu utilization rates then.

Author Comment

ID: 24775273
I solved the problem. After moving the guests from vmware server 1 to vmware server 2 I updated the vmware tools but not the virtual hardware. it was sitting at version 4. I powered down the machines, looked on the right hand side for virtual hardware and clicked the upgrade link underneath. However, after upgrading, the VM's were unusuable. Multiple reboots of the guests (10-15) and multiple reboots of the host (3) finally got the keyboard working, but the display was not very good. pop-ups, dialogs and windows were all not easy to read. The buttons were there but not in their right places. More reboots later I stubbled over the fact that I should click the windows balloon that keeps popping up when logging in after a reboot advising that the screen resolution can be improved. Well I took the option and it asked me if I really wanted to do it. I said yes and 5 seconds later I have a useable screen. I had had fixed IP addresses before the hardware upgrade and had to set them back to their correct addresses after the uopgrade. Then everything worked like a champ.
By the way, cpu utilizations went down to zero or low single digits in an idle VM after the hardware upgrade which was the main reason for this whole question. As a plus the VM's also reboot when the host reboots. This never worked in version 1 for me.
Thanks for the help, but I knew my problem was in VBMware not Windows.
LVL 10

Accepted Solution

dnilson earned 2000 total points
ID: 24810419
good you solved it, but take amoment and look at something else.

Windows consumes virtual CPU cycles just being
Windows, and a lot of that never shows up in Task manager.

Open up perfmon, set some counter on virtual memory swap, cpu queue, logical disk read and write ques, and disk read and writes.  and CPU utilization.

Take a look, does CPU usage follow swap?
Do disk and CPU queues follow swap?

Often the simple matter of the external VMWare swap file (i.e. not thewindows one but the file that ends in .swp is a secondary swap file thats sized by (Assigned VM RAM - Comitted VM RAM)  If zero is committed, you have a secondary swap the size of RAM, and Disk IO to that and to the Windows swap file can be eating you alive, especially if the RAM on the host is low.

1) Establish a secon vhd (drive D:) or whatever, and put the windows swapfile ONLY in that VHD.  This dequeues the disl buffering for the windows swapfile from the queue for windfows itsewlf = disk and CPU queues should drop.

2) Assign RAM miserly, make sure you are actually using it efficeintly and there isnt globs of unused RAM thats causing extra disk I/O.  A tool licke cacheman ( http://www.outertech.com/?_charisma_page=index&PHPSESSID=0e168c7786c3627a04e9990333083e22 ) can help here  and provide some performance and memory restoring optimizations as well.  

3) Comit some or all the ram, shrinking or elimianting the VMWare swap I/O at the expense of free RAM - once committed it wont be shared between the VMs , its comitted to one, but swapping is reduced.

4) Add more RAM to address #3 above.

Again, glad you solved your problem, but these steps will make it EVEN BETTER.

Perfmon needs to become your new best friend

Learn from the following:
( the last one is my bible on this subject ...)

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31599234
While I solved my own problem, dnilson provided good solid information to further assist me so I award him the points.  Thanks!

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