Friday, 24 February 2012

VMWare - Lots of disk activity after you shut down a virtual machine

Somehow I always found VMWare easier to use than HyperV, except for one minor detail: after I shut down a virtual machine, the VMWare host starts accessing my local harddisk like a maniac. This heavy disk load can take up to 20 minutes, in which I'm
  • unable to boot another VM. Well technically I can boot another one, but it's so slow you can't do a thing in it.
  • unable to shut down my laptop ... Windows waits until the VMWare host has finished his frantic disk rampage.
I came to live with these terms, so usually I shut down my virtual machine 30 minutes before my shift ends (lets hope my boss doesn't read this blog). Still, it's a pain in the **** if you have another meeting elsewhere and you're stuck staring at a Windows is shutting down message because VMWare has still business to do on your disk.

Luckily, lately I got a nice solution from one of my new colleagues.
If you add mainMem.useNamedFile = "FALSE" to your vm's configuration file, the post-shutdown disk activity stops.

  1. Make sure your VM is turned off.
  2. Open the virtual machine's VMX file in notepad.
  3. Append mainMem.useNamedFile = "FALSE" at the bottom of your vmx file.
  4. Save your changes.
  5. Boot your VM again.
We're not sure what this setting actually does, but at least it works :)
I've been testing it for the past month on all my VM's and I must say, I haven't had any problems. The virtual machines still work, their performance hasn't dropped, but now they shut down in a few seconds and without any increased disk activity afterwards.

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