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Jeroen W. Pluimers on .NET, C#, Delphi, databases, and personal interests

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Some links that should me help shrinking the virtual disk files of Windows VMs

Posted by jpluimers on 2020/04/03

With virtual disks, at least these three levels are involved:

  • partition or volume (often called drive) size
  • virtual disk size
  • virtual disk backing store size

When talking about shrinking disks, they usually explain about below steps, assuming there is a 1:1:1 mapping of the above and backing store of the disk is dynamically growing:

  1. defragment the files on a partition/volume
  2. zero-fill the non-used space
  3. shrink the virtual disk assuming it is a dynamically growing one

For various reasons, virtualisation environments can have pre-allocated virtual disks ensuring the space on the backing store is firmly reserved.

One such occasion can be in VMware (often required for instance with vSphere/ESXi/ESX based infrastructure, but can also be used in Workstation/Fusion/Player) or Virtual Box in fixed disk mode (default there is dynamic).

Here are some links that should me help shrink in those situations:

More on conversion:

–jeroen

PS: a useful tip by Joe C. Hecht on shrinking:

Oh… On shrinking VM Disks, I make a new growable disk, then use a utility to “smart copy” the partions to the new disk (then replace the disk files in the VM). The “smart copy” just copies the file system – IE what is used (I use an old copy of Paragon Hard Drive Manager). It works out a lot better than writing “zeros”. I then make a compressed image of the whole VM using  rar5 compression with a 1GB dictionary size. I then have batch files that can unrar the VM’s on a moments notice (from a collection of over 300).

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