Scott Hanselman

Invirtus Virtual Machine Optimizer

June 09, 2006 Comment on this post [6] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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I've got a pile of demo VMs that Stuart and I and others work on and once they're all setup they tend to get pretty big. After some work recently an 8 gig VM ballooned to nearly 10 gig! There's all sorts of tips and tricks on how to compact VMs, usually by defragging and zero'ing out free space. However, I don't have the time to do this kind of stuff manually, and when I DO run through these processes manually I'm rarely satisfied with the results.

Before and After - a 9 gig VM becomes a 3 gig VM

Invirtus VM Optimizer is a clever little tool that solved this particular problem. It's an ISO image that you mount within your guest OS. I used the "Automatic Corporate" edition.  It autoruns on mount and I waited for about 20 minutes. After it was done, I ran the Virtual Disk Wizard that comes with Microsoft Virtual PC (Invirtus works on VMWare also) and compacted the 9.9 gig VM down to 3.4 gigs in another 10 minutes.

So, a total of 30 minutes later I had a VM that was 1/3 the size, ran faster and now fits on a single-layer DVD when the original one wouldn't have fit on even a dual-layer one.

Full disclosure: The first Microsoft Virtual Disk Wizard compact operation failed with an obscure error message. I ran chkdsk on both the host and guest OSes, and ran again and everything worked fine. I don't think this had anything do to with Invirtus.

Here's what I can say about Invirtus VM Optimizer - It did exactly what Invirtus said it would do! Always nice to have software work EXACTLY as advertised. Frankly, I would have been thrilled with a 50% size reduction, and was VERY surprised to get 66% as a bonus. I use VMs all the time and the price is a no brainer, US$40 for personal and US$160 for Corporate. Paid for itself in one use.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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June 09, 2006 23:17
$40 is way too much for this kind of functionality. IMO.
June 10, 2006 0:11
Parallels also have a "Parallels Compressor Workstation" product that compresses VMware, VirtualPC and Parallels own products disk images for $49.99 although you can get a 30-day evaluation key while it's in release candiate.

June 10, 2006 0:22
The free VMware Server product has this utility built into the VMware Tools that get automatically installed into your VM via an ISO. You simply click "Shrink Disk" in the running VM, it compacts the disk internally, freezes the VM instance, compacts it externally, and lets your VM keep on running. VMware rocks. And it was free first. :)
June 10, 2006 2:07
VMware seems to run faster, is more polished and now it's free. Why do some people use Virtual PC.. what are its advantages?

June 12, 2006 1:00
I tried to shrink my Virtual machine and the result was that it only shrunk 5%.

My virtual machines are usually set up like this:
C-drive System partition (dynamic disk)
D-drive Data partition (dynamic disk)
T-drive Temp & Swapfile partition (fixed disk)

The T-drive is set up as a fixed disk because fixed disk are fater to access.

I think Invirtus product does some smart stuff with the swap file therefore ti it is not working for me with my fixed swap disk.
June 26, 2006 22:24 Seems the product can't do everything. But I like it and use it.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.