Virtual Machine Tips for running SharePoint

Just a few simple Virtual Machine tips when developing in SharePoint

  • My VMs are 40GB in size and pre-allocated. After installing SharePoint, SQL Server, and Visual Studio and all the tools I need I have about 10GB for data which is more than sufficient for most jobs. The pre-allocation helps performance but you need a lot of disk space so keep that in mind when planning your VM.
  • I run my VMs disconnected with their own Domain Controller (for development I usually just run a single VM with DC, SQL, and SharePoint all in one). I reconnect them via a bridge to the host network adapter when I'm at home off my corporate network. This is to get patches and keep things up to date. Running disconnected is nice because you know when things fail and why. Got a rogue web part that's behaving strangely? Put it in your VM and take a look at it to make sure it's not relying on some external service (which may be throwing proxy errors or something from your corporate network)
  • I rely on source control to store my code and only pull down copies of current projects when I'm ready to work on something and keep things fresh with mulitple check-ins per day. With VMWare the nice thing is that I can mount the VM as a disk image in case I need to pull something off (without having to fire up the VM). Having a source control system like GIT or Mercurial instead of Subversion or VSS will let you do local check-ins then you can sync when you're done at the end of the day.
  • VMs on the local drive (if you're running a SSD) are waaaaaaaaaaay faster than on an external drive. If you have to use an external drive for your VMs (I've since stopped doing this with the increased size of SSDs these days) then go with eSATA for the best performance (although some people will argue USB 3.0 is faster). Pre-allocating the VM on an external drive will help with performance as well.
  • Give your VM lots of memory. Any SharePoint developer must be running at *least* 8GB on their host machine. Give your VM 4-5 GB. No watching movies while you work, defer that to another machine. For SharePoint 2013 you really need to run 16GB on your host machine and give your VMs 8-12 GB of RAM.
  • Copying large files into a VM (like an installer) then deleting it will cause fragmentation that you might not get back during regular usage. Make sure you use your virtualization tools to defragment your VMs on a regular basis.
  • A really great tool to keep your VMs under control size wise is SpaceSniffer. It visually shows you where things are gobbling up space in the OS so you can pinpoint things that you don't need and zap 'em! Get it. It's free!

That's it for now. Just a few simple tips that might help out. Happy developing!

Published Monday, April 22, 2013 2:33 PM by Bil Simser

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