Virtual PC - VPCVS Optimisation tips _ Tricks

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					              Virtual PC / Virtual Server Tips & Tricks
                               Version 2.0 – 14.8.2006

This document is a assembly of tips and tricks about Virtual PC / Virtual Server
performance improvements of the Partner Technology Specialist Community.
The optimizations here are for demo and test purposes. In a production
environment other rules might apply.

The document is divided in 3 sections:

      Host Preparation – how can you improve the settings of your host-
       System – this works for all virtual PC Images

      Image Preparation – how can you improve the settings of your image

      Start Demo – what can you improve during your demo
Host Preparation:
     Exclude „Virtual PC.exe‟ or these files from Antivirus realtime scans:
      .vhd .vud .vsv .vfd .vmc

     Always keep the Host PC updated & defragged

     Hard disks play an important role. The faster the disk, the faster the
      Virtual Environment. On a desktop HD are mostly of high speed, on
      Laptops/tablets – what most of us use – Build-in HDs are rather
      Adding fast external HDs on Firewire or USB 2.0 will help a lot

     If possible dedicate one HDs for the VHD and VUD (undo) files.
      Even better is to split the load of VHD / VUD of multiple Virtual
      Machines over multiple HDs.

     You might consider SCSI / IDE switching on desktop PCs – whatever
      is fastest.

     General rule: the minimum is 2 HDs: one for OS, one for virtual
      machine files.

     Use NTFS compression for the VHD, VUD and VSV files. Seems
      writing a big chunk to disk is slower than first compressing the
      chunk and then write it to disk.

     Start Virtual PC with the following option:
      Virtual PC.exe –usehostdiskcache
      (Best way is to create a shortcut on your desktop)

     Using Virtual PC or Virtual Server: Basically there is no real
      performance difference between the two – though the development
      path of Virtual Server seems to be faster than the one on Virtual
      PC; resulting in better performance improvements on Virtual

     Comparison of VS & VPC

          Virtual PC                       Virtual Server

     Rich GUI client for local      Thin web-based admin and VMRC
      interactive use.                client for remote/headless
     Low security/High               administrative use.
      interactivity (Shared          High security/Low
      Folders, Drag/Drop,             interactivity (nothing "shared"
      Cut/Paste).                     between Guests and Host).
      No Automation/Scripting              Full Automation/Scripting
       Interface.                            Interface with COM.
      Client-oriented features             Server-oriented features (Virtual
       (Sound Card in VM).                   SCSI emulation, per VM CPU
      All Guests use one CPU on             throttling, VS Security model for
       the host.                             delegation. But no Sound Card).
      As of Virtual PC 2004, x86           Guests use all CPUs on the host, but
       only                                  each Guest still sees and uses only
                                             one CPU.
                                            As of Virtual Server 2005 R2, x86
                                             and x64 supported

Virtual PC clearly targets the average interactive user with rich functionality and
features. However, it trades off security for some functionality, cannot be
scripted/automated, does not run as a service so requires a user login, and
cannot utilize all CPUs on the host. On the other hand, these are all factors that
Virtual Server perform well, but it also gives up on the rich, interactive user
experience for a more headless, lightweight, remoteable, but limited interactive

      Install – if possible – Virtual PC and Virtual Server on the machine
       Virtual PC and Virtual Server share some components and from time
       to time a component is updated in one product, but not in the other
       and you can have performance benefits on the other system.
       A current example of this is that the Virtual Server 2005 Service
       Pack 1 beta contains a number of performance improvements - and
       many of these performance improvements can also be had under
       Virtual PC 2004 simply by install Virtual Server Service Pack 1 beta
       on the same system. Virtual Server can be installed without IIS.

           o Recommended you install VPC and then VS, since they share
             some binaries and you want the latest from VS on the system.

           o If you un-install one, you may have to re-install the other
             since the common binaries would have been un-installed.

           o When you create your guest machines, install the Virtual
             Server version of Additions. They are compatible with Virtual
             PC and are newer.

      /3GB should not be used on the host as it increases the user
       memory space at the expense of Kernel space. Virtual machines use
       more kernel memory than user memory – so enabling this switch on
       the host will decrease the amount of virtual machines that you can
   There have been issues where virtual machines (some or all active
    on a host) freeze up every 10 to 15 seconds for as long as 20 or 30
    This has been identified as being caused by Intels SpeedStep
    technology; you have two options:

      o Disable SpeedStep in the hosts BIOS.

      o Install the QFE 889677

   When you run Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 on a portable computer
    that uses the Intel Centrino 915 chipset, Virtual PC performance is
    reduced when compared to its performance on portable computers
    that use older Centrino chipsets – Install Hotfix 899525
Image Preparation:
     Size Does Matter! = Smaller VHDs are faster

     Use Differencing & Undo Disks = Keep them in separate physical
      drives if possible!

     Always make sure the latest Virtual Machine additions are installed.

     Create the VHD as fixed size disks so the space is allocated as one
      big chunk – more fragments will slow down the system

     Make sure the VMs have sufficient RAM allocated to them to avoid
      they need to start swapping too much memory as this is HD

     Always have the VMs connected to a network – even if it is the
      “internal only”

     The smaller (or less fragmented) the VHD files the faster. Steps to

         o In the VM run defrag (a couple of times). It might take a
           while (up to hours) but it is worth waiting for

         o Run the VM precompactor – this is an ISO image. Just attach
           it to the VM . The precompactor will zero all the unneeded
           space in the VHD

                  Load the „Virtual Disk Pre-Compactor.iso‟ from the
                   Virtual Machine Additions Directory

                  Answer „Yes‟ to start the zeroing

                  Shutdown the VPC when done

                  Use Virtual PC Disk Wizard to edit and compact the pre-
                   compacted .vhd

         o Some 3rd party tools like WinImage
           ( or PerfectDisk
           usually give a better result

     Instant-on, fast start – whatever you name it. Booting a Virtual
      Machine often take a lot of time. Therefore an instant-on (or fast
      start) procedure is created. It is based on the fact that Virtual
      Machines can be “hibernated” – called “Save State”
    1. Run the machine with Undo-disks enabled.

    2. Find a good starting point for your demo – this is where you‟re
       demo actually starts, so being logged-in, have some software
       opened, …

    3. Save-State the machine (and commit changes to the VHD)

    4. Optional: you might choose now to let the VM in the future to
       “always stop-and-discard-undo-disk”.

    5. Now copy the VMC and VSV files to a separate directory.

    Now you are prepared for fast start.
    For every upcoming demo:

    1. Copy the VSV and VMC files from the separate directory to the
       “main” directory where they came from

    2. Start the Virtual Machine

    3. At the end of the demo: “turn-off-and-discard-the-undo-disk”

    This can be repeated over and over again – consider to create a
    batch file for this.

   Do not swap virtual images between virtual server and virtual pc -
    Running a virtual machine created in Virtual PC (with Virtual PC
    Additions installed) in a Virtual Server environment may lead to
    unpredictable results, performance degradation, failure of services,
    and possible failure of the guest

   Guest windows background tasks should be disabled to reduce the
    virtual disk i/o, these include:

       o The indexing service

       o Automatic search for network folders and printers in explorer

       o Displaying the size information in folder tips

       o Switch off system restore

   If you have to copy files from the host to the Guest, use the shared
    folders. Copy with drag and drop is 50 % slower, copy through
    network is only 16 % of the performance.
   Configure performance settings on the Microsoft Windows XP or
    Microsoft Windows Server 2003 virtual machine

      o Start Virtual PC 2004, and then start the Windows XP or
        Windows Server 2003 virtual machine that you want to

      o Click Start, click Run, type sysdm.cpl, and then click OK.

      o On the Advanced tab, click Settings under Performance.

      o On the Advanced tab, click Programs under Processor
        scheduling, and then click OK.

         Note Before you modify this setting, you must verify that the
         host is not running critical services in the background.

      o On the Hardware tab, click Device Manager.

      o Expand Disk Drives, right-click the drive that you want, and
        then click Properties.

      o On the Policies tab, click to clear the Enable write-caching on
        the disk check box, and then click OK.

      o On the File menu, click Exit to close Device Manager.

      o Click Start, click Run, type desk.cpl, and then click OK.

      o On the Settings tab, click Advanced.

      o On the Troubleshoot tab, move the Hardware acceleration
        slider to Full, and then click OK two times.

      o Click Start, click Run, type regedit.exe, and then click OK.

      o Locate and then click the following registry subkey:

      o My Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop

      o In the right pane, right-click MenuShowDelay, click Modify,
        type 400 in the Value data box, and then click OK.

      o Quit Registry Editor.
Start Demo:
     When using multiple VMs, start them one after the other – not all at

     Consider the creation of a local “virtual PC” user. This account has
      no software like messenger, communicator, office, … installed –
      resulting in less memory being used.
      Otherwise stop all unneeded software and tools – specially those on
      the system tray

     Pre-run a demo; some cached information will not be in cache
      anymore as the moment it is cached and the moment of demo is to
      spread (couple of days, weeks, …). When there is a need to pre-
      cache certain info (like web sites)

        o Cache the info as late as possible – pre-run the demo and
          “save-state-and-keep-undo-disk”, or run cache the info on
          site (again as late as possible)

        o If step 1 was needed, just wake the machine to “continue”
          the demo

      If this is needed then don‟t select “always stop-and-discard-undo-
      disk” in the VM settings.
      Note on AD enabled multi-machine demos: As AD keeps a time
      stamp on the Security IDs of the computers make sure that all first
      save states are created at the same time.

     There is a pre-cache tool available (by Joris_Kalz) for CRM demos.
Additional lecture: (worth reading as well)

Two Batch files to switch between Demo and Operational mode – will start and
stop some services


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