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Best storage solution for virtual machines (amongst other things...)

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December 20, 2009 10:47:42 AM

I wrote something fairly substantial here, but the forum decided to lose it all because I didn't select a sub category, sigh :) 

So anyway, I currently have:

  1. 1x 500GB Western Digital (main OS, one virtual machine and storage)
  2. 1x 320GB Maxtor (three virtual machines and storage)


If possible I'd like to have the virtual machines run a little quicker than they do now, but I also need some storage space, so I was just wondering what the best option would be for this?

Tempted by SSD for the OS and virtual machines, along with a Samsung EcoGreen F2 hard drive for storage, but I'm guessing that running five operating systems simultaneously from a single drive (even if it is awesome and SSD) is anything but a good idea?

Is there anything else worth trying that I've overlooked? Tempted just to buy some more drives and share the load out a bit, but not sure my case (Cooler Master Centurion 5)/psu (650W Antec SmartPower) could really handle it. Also sceptical to replace my main hard drive because if possible I wanted to avoid having to re-install everything again, heh ;p

Any suggestions would be great, not sure what to do with this atm really... thanks!
a b G Storage
December 20, 2009 11:39:16 PM

Your case and PSU could handle a few more HDD's just fine. They have a minimal impact on heat and energy draw compared to other components.

That said I do suggest using multiple drives if you want faster speeds.
December 22, 2009 6:44:41 PM

Nice one, thanks Viper - I've just ordered an extra 1.5TB drive and may get another at some point too, to share the load a bit :) 
a b G Storage
December 22, 2009 7:04:21 PM

Sounds good.

Make sure you have a good sized amount of RAM to handle the virtual machines. That will also help with the speed issue.
December 23, 2009 7:58:28 AM

Another good shout ty - I currently have 512mb allocated to each of them, and 4GB on the host machine, but I may up my host to 6GB and allocate 1GB each and see if that improves performance!
a b G Storage
December 23, 2009 12:58:39 PM

Oh definitely. The jump from 512 MB to 1 GB each will have an instantly noticeable impact on performance.
a b G Storage
December 23, 2009 1:09:25 PM

What your virtual machines need as far as memory depends on the OS and what you are doing with them. Look at their memory utilization and play with the allocated memory to see if you get improvements. If you are limited my disk activity in the virtual machines, then you are going down the right path as far as getting more drives. My experience with them is that disk performance is probably the biggest thing hindering speed, but that was with old hardware that does not have multiple processors or disks. If you are running a couple small linux installs, maybe two of those little kingston 30GB ssds would be a cheap way to get what you need. If it is memory limiting you then getting that and allocating it will help. It all depends on what you are doing.
a c 415 G Storage
December 23, 2009 3:02:32 PM

You didn't say how large your VM files were, but if they're small enough to all fit on an SSD then it would probably give you the best performance, better even than putting each VM on it's own hard disk.

The thing that kills the performance of a hard drive is multiple programs (such as VMs and the programs running in them) trying to access it simultaneously - that leads to seeking and seeking is very, very slow. SSDs are literally 100 times faster than hard drives at "seeking" (actually, they don't have to "seek" at all), so they're really, really good at improving the kind of performance you're talking about.
!