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Disk Configuration of VM's

Posted on 2014-12-02
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Last Modified: 2014-12-23
Hi Experts,

I've started a project to design and implement a new server environment for one of our customers. I'm not that experienced, so i hope i can get some advise according to the disk configuration of the servers.

With virtualization is it still a normal thing to do, to create seperate partitions or use seperate disks for, for example, the servers swap file? If so, are there more aspects to place on a seperate disk to gain performance?
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Question by:SvenIA
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Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
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I generally don't create separate partitions - think logically - a partition is on the same set of spindles (assuming you're not using SSDs) and if anything, it COULD hurt performance forcing the read/write heads farther away as the disk is reading.

If you could put the pagefile on another drive though, that would improve performance as you would have two separate sets of spindles - one to read your data and one to read the pagefile.  More RAM will also improve performance.  Though I haven't done it often, I've strongly considered having a single NON-RAID drive for non-critical aspects of the system - Pagefile (leave a smaller one on the host drive), Volume Shadow Copy, WSUS data, and other other resources, such as a "scratch" disk to install service packs and updates to windows and other programs. Why make something redundant that really doesn't have to be.

The VMs though should NOT have any partitions other than the default partitions (boot, etc) that Windows creates.  Instead, use separate VHD files (or VHDx files) for each "partition" you'd want.  This allows you to more easily move a "partition" to another server if necessary.

Use Fixed size VHDs if you can, BUT that can take time to create AND to copy if you later want to move.  What I often do is create PARTITIONS on the physical drive array and then put each VHD as a dynamically expanding VHD in the physical drive array's partition.  This ensures no fragmentation on the VHD as it grows.  (The internal file system can still fragment though!)
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 250 total points
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storage has come a long way in the last 5 years.With SSD pricing dropping like a rock while the performance is skyrocketing.With the right storage array you can use tiering in which some items can be pinned or you can use dynamic tiering so that the most used items are stored on SSD's and the least used are on Hard Drives. So in this scenario you need to use separate vhd(x).. sometimes you set up a vhd with multiple partitions but the actual use doesn't follow your predictions and when you shrink a partition to the right the free space is to the right (after the shrunk partition) and unusable by the previous partition that you want to expand so you are left with the time expensive operation of using a 3rd party partition tool OR creating a new vhd and moving the partitions over.   There are exciting changes coming with ReFS and you can take advantage of it right now on Storage Space Volumes.  ReFS is the replacement for NTFS and available from Server 2012 onward. ReFS does not support EFS and some other items that NTFS supports so it is not the do all end all in all situations. I've seen some pretty dramatic improvements in the pipeline which I hope come in Server V.next.
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by:SvenIA
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Thanks!
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