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Best Settings for VM Fusion; new iMac SSD+HDD

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi -
Firstly, let me say that I am somewhat of a novice when it comes to technical computer things...

I am trying to determine the best setup for my new iMac/Windows 7 x64. Here is my situation:
  • For work, I require software that is only available for Windows, so I need to install Windows in order to install/use the software.
  • I have used Fusion in the past (both on this iMac and my MBPro), so am considering getting the newest version of Fusion since I am familiar with it. If there are compelling reasons to switch to Parallels, I'm certainly open to it.
  • The software I use is for satellite image processing, so I assume it would be similar (in terms of computing requirements) to 3D rendering or video processing. (just thought this background info might be useful to help determine RAM and resource allocation during setup).
  • I would like to take advantage of the SSD (HD 1) for application start-up and temporary/scratch space, but save all files to the HDD (HD 2).
  • The Mac side will be primarily used for iLife, Office, internet, etc.

Here is my setup:
  • 2011 iMac 27"
  • 3.4 GHz Core i7
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 250 GB SSD
  • 2 TB HDD
  • Currently running OSX 10.6.8, but planning to upgrade to Lion
  • Currently running VM Fusion 3, but planning to upgrade to 4.1

I'm asking for help for a couple of reasons.
1) I don't think I properly set up VM Fusion 3 before, and I'd like some advice and suggestions.
2) I want to install applications on SSD, but write to HDD

What's prompting all this is that VM Fusion will no longer start because it says my disk is full.
  • I copied the VM file from the SSD to the HDD, and can open it from there. However, my image processing software license recognizes this as a new machine, and requires a new license to run. Before I do that, I want to make sure I'm all sorted out with the optimal set-up.
  • When I check the size of the VM Fusion partition, it is 222 GB.
  • If I boot Windows, I find that the size of my C: drive (including all applications and project output files, etc) is 80 GB (this is roughly what I would expect it to be).
  • However, there are 2 network directories (Q: and Z: ), and both appear to connect to the same place --- a NAS RAID. I can navigate sub-directories, etc and all looks as I would expect.
  • However, when I compare the size of those drives, Q: is 8.48 TB used, with 2.25 TB available (this is correct), but Z: is 227 GB used, with 6.14 GB available (this totally confuses me). I'm guessing that somehow when Z: was shared, it copied over as much data as it could fill on my SSD???
  • I have been unable to successfully disconnect/unshare/delete Z: to free up space. Again, I am getting in to unfamiliar territory for me, so there may be other things that could be done here...

So, I'm planning to backup and delete the VM, upgrade to Lion and start fresh. This will require me to re-install all my software and applications, but I think this may be the best approach in the long run...

Any suggestions or advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
OMO
post #2 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by OMO View Post

If there are compelling reasons to switch to Parallels, I'm certainly open to it.

I don't think so, some benchmarks show it to be faster but I always found VMWare more stable. You'd really have to try both to see if it works faster in your own setup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OMO View Post

When I check the size of the VM Fusion partition, it is 222 GB.
If I boot Windows, I find that the size of my C: drive (including all applications and project output files, etc) is 80 GB (this is roughly what I would expect it to be).

The problem with VM partitions is that they don't free up space after you allocated it - they use sparse images that you have to manually compress to get your space back again. What you should do is write any temporary files to a shared drive. This is what your Z: drive is. It will be a link to the SSD itself - the 6.14GB free would be the space left on the boot drive.

Given that only 80GB is used on the C: drive, it means you must have written 220-80GB = 140GB of temporary data to it that it won't free up until you shrink the disk image using similar steps to this (make sure to back it up in case the shrink process fails):

http://www.vmware.com/support/ws5/do...sk_shrink.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by OMO View Post

I have been unable to successfully disconnect/unshare/delete Z: to free up space.

That wouldn't free up space as it's just a link to the drive. Once the image has been shrunk, you should be able to fit the 80GB image onto the SSD again. Then you would just create a shared drive/folder on your 1TB drive to use as a scratch drive and also to store all your image data. It's not a good idea to store anything important inside the VM as it just ends up making it hard to back up. Keep the VM size as small as you possibly can - just have apps and the OS on it if possible.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks Marvin - I'll look into shrinking.

However, from what I can tell, the Z: drive is what is causing me problems, and is not comprised of temporary files, etc. All of my temporary files should be written to (and deleted from) C: --- at least that is where my imaging processing software is set to write.

In Windows, if I navigate to Z: what I see is the directory structure and files that are stored on my NAS RAID. Everything appears exactly the same as when I look at Q:

Here is the curious thing regarding the Q: and Z: drives.
  • The usage statistics for Q: appear to be correct (e.g., 8.48 TB used, with 2.25 TB available). This is what I expect, because this is a 16 TB RAID (QNAP TS-809 PRO w 8x 2TB drives, RAID 5).
  • However, when I look at Z: in Windows Explorer, although I can see and navigate though all the directories --- and see files larger than 222 GB, when I look at the usage statistics, instead of showing me 8.48TB/2.25TB, it says 227 GB used, with 6.14 GB available ---- which is more akin to my physical drive (250GB SSD).

I set up the share to Q: (named it Q: for QNAP). It is shared so that I can read/write to it from both Mac and Windows. I'm not really sure when/where the Z share came from. I'm wondering if I (or VM) somehow inadvertently had it copy the shared files into the VM partition (?????). And it wrote as many files as it could fit from the RAID onto my local HD, then started giving me errors once it filled it up???

Windows Explorer shows the following paths for the drives (and lists them under Network Locations):
Q: Public (\\\\vmware-host\\Shared Folders)
Z: Shared Folders (\\\\vmware-host)

"Public" is the name of the parent directory on the RAID in which all of my projects and data are backed up. If I click on "Q", it goes directly into the "Public" directory. If I click on "Z", it goes one directory higher. Then I click on "Public" and everything is the same as Q.

Again, all this is getting beyond my computer skills level, so maybe none of this really makes any sense.

Since Z appears to be both a shared link to the RAID and actual local HD space, I'm wary of "shrinking" -- will it delete actual files off my RAID? I guess I could physically disconnect my iMac from the RAID while I try to fix things...
post #4 of 10
I run the same machine as you with Lion and Vmware Fusion 4.1... Been running Vmware since it was first released, and the 4.1 is definitely a bit faster than 3 was.

The way I would set it up if I were you would be to keep the VM image itself on the SSD. However, I'd use the folder sharing (even using the "My Desktop", "My Documents", etc. folder redirection built into Fusion) to have all the data sitting on the HDD. This way, you get the speed of the SSD for launching the VM, saving RAM state when suspending, launching applications in Windows, etc. And you get the benefits of lots of storage space for documents and data files. Additionally, since all these files are now sitting on your Mac HDD in certain folders rather than in a sparse disk image (the VM's image), you get the benefit of granular (per file) time machine backups of your windows data if you desire. Basically, you want the same as with any native app; small things that are accessed frequently like applications, libraries, OS on the SSD and big things like data files, DBs, etc on the HDD.

As for settings, I have 8GB of ram in my Mac and gave 3GB to my Windows 7 VM and 4 processor cores. Also run with the "Acelerate 3D Graphics" on. I also leave the virtualization engine and hd buffering set to Automatic.

I like using Unity but since the 4.1 update, find myself using Full Screen more now that it goes in it's own space. I also tend to use NAT over Bridged networking although that causes me extra headaches with port forwarding so that I can use RDC, sqlplus, etc to connect back to my VM. Bridged would likely be better in my case, but I feel better having my VM a little sheltered from the rest of the domain.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks rrabu.
What you describe is exactly what I want to do.

I really need to get my workstation back up and running, so I will probably be trying to do this over the weekend/early next week.

When you're installing/setting up VMF 4.1, how do you designate the HDD as a separate drive? Can you assign it a drive letter (E:/ for example), so that I can easily map default output paths in my imaging software?
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by OMO View Post

However, from what I can tell, the Z: drive is what is causing me problems, and is not comprised of temporary files, etc. All of my temporary files should be written to (and deleted from) C: --- at least that is where my imaging processing software is set to write.

I'm not really sure when/where the Z share came from. I'm wondering if I (or VM) somehow inadvertently had it copy the shared files into the VM partition (?????).

Since Z appears to be both a shared link to the RAID and actual local HD space, I'm wary of "shrinking" -- will it delete actual files off my RAID? I guess I could physically disconnect my iMac from the RAID while I try to fix things...

Q; and Z; drives are just links to other locations. When you do a shrink, it doesn't delete files and it won't affect anything on the RAID but you can disconnect the RAID - it's always a good idea to remove important storage when you do disk operations. If you disconnect the RAID, that would probably let you see what Windows Explorer is pointing to.

You're right that your temp files will have gone onto your C: drive and that will have caused the partition to expand and not freed up the space. After compressing the image to reclaim that space and changing the write location to the 1TB, that shouldn't happen.

If possible, try and take as much data off the VM as you can and put it on one of your drives. I'd say that even having an 80GB VM is quite large. Apps + the OS should really be no bigger than about 20GB.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
So this weekend, I made a backup copy of my original VM, then deleted it from my SSD.

Now I am doing a complete new install (not an upgrade) of VM4 with Windows 7 x64.

Would you mind giving me a few tips as to the best way to set things up so that I can:
a) install/run applications from SSD (HD1)
b) save all files to HDD (HD2)

Do I "add a device" and add HD2?
Can I assign it a drive letter (to be compatible with Windows applications?). For example, can I name HD2 E:/ (do I need the colon and slash?)? If so, then I can map all my Windows application output file paths to E:/

Any other tips? I want to avoid the problems I had setting up VM3.

Thanks!
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
rrabu -
Can you give me a few more details for setting up the drive/folder sharing so that all files are written to the HDD?
Thanks!
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by OMO View Post

rrabu -
Can you give me a few more details for setting up the drive/folder sharing so that all files are written to the HDD?
Thanks!

Replied to your PM. I can't recall about VMware Fusion 3, but it's possible that the GUI front end to clean up (shrink) your disk was added in version 4. You can easily upgrade from 3 to 4 though and your existing VMs should just work.

I also failed to mention that there is also an Auto-Protect feature in Fusion where it will automatically take a snap-shot of your VM periodically as a backup. I turned it off because the disk IO was so high on my iMac that it made all applications unusable for several seconds periodically. I prefer to have my data on shared folders (and so on the Mac instead of embedded in the virtual machine) and leave Time Machine do the periodic backups (which are arguably better since they are to a different drive).

Once you have it setup properly, Marvin is correct; your VM shouldn't be really large. Mine is 33.4 GB after a full install of an Oracle database, web logic server, development tools, etc. And Oracle crap is the opposite of lean...
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by OMO View Post

Do I "add a device" and add HD2?
Can I assign it a drive letter (to be compatible with Windows applications?). For example, can I name HD2 E:/ (do I need the colon and slash?)? If so, then I can map all my Windows application output file paths to E:/

You would need an NTFS-formatted (or FAT but don't bother with FAT) drive for assigning the physical drive or a piece of software that allowed HFS+ write like:

http://www.paragon-software.com/home/hfs-windows/

This will unmount it from the Mac side though and put your data at the full mercy of Windows and a 3rd party driver, which is probably not a good idea. I'd say the shared folder route would be the best option, although some software might play up a bit.

You could always get an external hard drive for Windows data and that way, it doesn't matter about it being unmounted from the Mac side and it could be formatted as NTFS. To write things onto it from the Mac side, you would drag them onto the VM window.

I'd try the shared folder setup first. Just create a folder on the Mac side 1TB drive, add this as a shared folder in VMWare and set all your scratch space and file storage for the Windows apps to be in that location.
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