Optimizing VMWare Fusion Performance (EXP) on Snow Leopard (10.6)

Tweaking VMware Fusion for the Best Experience

Have a MacBook Air or other Mac with 2GB or less of RAM?

VMWare Fusion by default is set to optimize performance for virtual machines disk access by caching IO in memory. The consequence of this is of course less RAM is available to the host or OS X as a result (Leopard, Snow Leopard, etc). A scenario occurs often with Macbook Air users, or older Macbook users that cannot use more than a certain amount of RAM. VMWare Fusion preferences and selecting the radio button to Optimize VMWare Fusion for “OS X Performance” which may result in slower disk access, but can result in faster overall system performance if you are generally low on RAM.

  1. Open VMWare Fusion
  2. Goto the Preferences menu
  3. Toggle the performance preference to “Optimize for Mac OS application performanceā€¯

Need VMWare Fusion as fast as possible? Following these rules may help your performance.

  1. Install as much RAM as possible, and assign at least 1GB of RAM to your Windows VM.
  2. Don’t use the dual-virtual-CPU option.
  3. Windows 7 typically takes 5-6% CPU on a 2.4GHZ Macbook Pro.
  4. Use 64-bit client OS where possible (XP 64-bit, Vista 64-bit, Windows 7 64-bit), VMWare Fusion can leverage Intel’s VT hardware extensions. See this Arstechnica post.
  5. Use Virtual SCSI over Virtual IDE (note: Windows XP install does not support SCSI natively, you will have to select Easy Install from VMWare).
  6. Pre-allocated disks do not seem to perform better than non.
  7. Vanilla file-based vmdk or VMs are surprisingly faster than accessing via boot-camp or native partition (potentially Apple’s NTFS read driver?).
  8. Not sure this is even necessary to write, but simply put, Windows XP is faster Windows 7 which is faster than Vista (don’t use Vista?).
  9. Accessing VMWare files from an external disk is faster than primary drive access.
  10. Compact the Virtual Hard Disk periodically (Under VM -> Hard Disk settings)

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