Apr 20, 2008
Tip and Trick Editorial

VMWare Server Causes System Frozen, Hang and Unresponsive When Power/Start Up in Vista

Windows Vista may become unresponsive, freeze or simply hang when users power on and start up a virtual machine in VMWare Server, especially on VMWare Server 1.0. When the symptom happens, the hard disk drive LED, which indicates hard disk I/O activity, blinks non-stop, signifying a lot of hard disk reading or writing activity and spinning. The Windows Vista system freezing or hang state normally lasts for few minutes, after that system will act as normal again.

The problem of unresponsive system when powering on a virtual machine of VMWare Server in Windows Vista is caused by Windows Vista performing huge amount of system memory swapping to the hard disk. There are two causes for the memory swapping. Firstly, Windows Vista uses as much RAM as the physical memory size system has available. So when the guest operating system in the virtual machine is starting up, operating system memory manager has to free up the allocated memory to the VM by moving some of the memory’s data to the swap file on hard disk.

To resolve the issue, try to configure the virtual machine guest opearting system to use less RAM memory. For example, reduce the VM guest OS with 1024 MB memory to 768 MB or just 512 MB memory allocation.

Secondly, and also the more possible reason that can cause system slowdown and performance degrading is guest operating system in VM is allowed to be swapped to hard disk. The additional memory for Reserved Memory in Host Settings should not allowed virtual memory to be swapped and overflowed to hard disk drive. Set the option to Fit all virtual machine memory into reserved host memory.

Host Settings Reserved Memory Additional Memory

Alternatively, switch to Windows XP which uses much lesser RAM requirements, or upgrade to VMWare 2.0 Beta 2 which appear to have fixed the bug related to the unresponsive and hang system when power on VM.

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