What is the best hard drive configuration for a VM host?

Donna Johnson
Donna Johnson used Ask the Experts™
We are going to set up a new server to host our VM's. We use Hyper-v and will be using Windows server 2019. The host we have are not clustered. They are set up with the OS on the same hard drive partition are the VMs and configure Raid 6. This server will replace an older one. It will host 6 vm's one of which is a Domain Controller. The new server will be a HP Proliant DL380 Gen10 with 128 GB of RAM and 2 TB of usable space.

How it be better to put the OS on it's own hard drive? If so, should I set the OS hard drive to Raid 1? VM's Hard drive to Raid 5 or 6? This server is located local. I check the drive lights weekly. At what point do I need to up the number of NICs we use? The host servers have 4, we use 2.  

Please let me know if you need additional info.
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Technical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage
I have two very thorough EE articles on all things Hyper-V:

Some Hyper-V Hardware and Software Best Practices
Practical Hyper-V Performance Expectations

The best way to go about doing this is by using clustering.

Talk to your boss about the benefits.  If you bought 2 servers and a small end SAN, you could setup a failover cluster which would allow for the following:

1. Load balancing between the VMs.
2. Failover capabilities which is important for a potential disaster.  If one host server fails, the VMs would roll to the other host
3. Ease of maintenance.  When its time to apply updates to the host server, you can live migrate the VMs to the other host

There's so many benefits to going that route.

With your current setup, you're going to run into a lot of problems.  If you lose your host, you lose all your VMs.  If you lose your hard drive, you lose all your VMs.  

If you're content with having only one host, then at least put the host OS on its own RAID 1 drive.  All the other VMs (if they aren't DBs), put them on RAID 5 drives.  RAID 10 if you're going to have DB's such as SQL running which would be used extensively.

Look into purchasing a Veeam license to do backups of your VMs.

Also, when configuring your network, use all 4 ports.  Team 2 of the ports and assign that to your VMs.  Team the other 2 for your host LAN access.  This will allow for load balancing and better network throughput.
NoahHardware Tester and Debugger

Hi there! :)

Based on the requirements, I think it is best to setup a RAID1 datastore using SSDs for "SQL" if necessary. Afterwards, you can setup a 2nd datastore using RAID10 datastore using SATA disks of your choosing(same hard drive petition) depending on your fileserver storage requirements(I think 2TB is more than enough). Finally, install ESXi to a SDCard or USB drive whichever you are using to interface.
Donna JohnsonAsst. Systems Manager


Thanks guys! Great info Philip. Coolie, I have tried and tried. Can't get them to spend the money on the SAN.

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