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Windows Server 2012 : Hyper-V - Creating and Configuring Virtual Machines (part 1) - Configuring Virtual Disks

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3/6/2014 1:25:54 AM

While anyone who has experience creating virtual disks in Server 2008 R2’s Hyper-V should have little to no trouble figuring out how to create VMs and virtual disks in Hyper-V R3, there are some new features available in the procedures. One of the most significant is a new file format for virtual disks.

Configuring Virtual Disks

Hyper-V R3 uses a new file format for virtual hard disks: .VHDX. In Server 2008 R2, the file format is .VHD. VHDX supports virtual hard disk storage capacity up to 64 TB (VHD supports up to 2 TB). Virtual disks are storage resources for VMs, and the great thing about them is that they dynamically expand—seamlessly—as you add content to the VMs.

Note

Traditionally, hard drives have used 512 KB disk sectors. To accommodate the demand for huge storage capacity and the latest in storage technology, vendors developed drives that use 4 KB disk sectors, which is now the standard.

Of course, you can also use physical disks for VM storage: disks that are installed on the host machine or use a LUN (logical unit number) in a SAN (storage attached network) solution. In this example, we’re creating a virtual disk that dynamically expands. From Server Manager, click Tools and then Hyper-V Manager. From the right-side Actions menu, click New and Hard Disk. This launches the New Virtual Hard Disk wizard. The first option is to choose the disk format, either VHD or VHDX. Although VHDX supports larger capacities and gives better data protection, the format also supports only Windows Server 2012. If your virtual environment requires the use of legacy Windows Servers, you will have to use VHD. See Figure 1 for the New Virtual Hard Disk wizard’s Choose Disk Format window.

The next configuration option is selecting the disk type. There are three types of virtual disks that you can create:

Fixed

Fixed disks provide the best performance. If you’ll be using the virtual disk with heavy I/O applications, such as a database with a high level of transactions, this is the best choice. Planning the size of a fixed disk is critical, because whatever capacity a fixed disk is created in is the capacity it remains, no matter how much data gets added.

Dynamically expanding

A dynamic virtual disk will automatically expand as capacity needs increase. As long as it’s used for applications that are not I/O heavy and don’t consume lots of disk resources, for many infrastructures it’s probably the most common option.

Differencing

Differencing virtual disks is associated with another disk, which acts as a parent disk. Changes can be made to the child/differencing disk without affecting the parent disk. Differencing disks are typically used in testing and development environments, where changes will be written to a disk in testing and then the testers want to deploy an identical image without the changes to retest. Differencing disks are likely the least common disk type deployed in production environments.

Choosing the virtual disk format
Figure 1. Choosing the virtual disk format

Now select “Dynamically expanding” and click Next. In the “Specify Name and Location” window, name the virtual disk and select a location for the files.

In the Configure Disk window, you can create a blank virtual disk and specify its size, or you can copy the contents of a physical disk attached to the host, or from another virtual disk—great time savers if you have images on another disk that you want to add to a new virtual disk. Click Next, and the disk setup is complete.

 
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