Any VMWare Gurus Out There?


SatelliteGuys Pro
Original poster
Dec 5, 2014
I’ve been using VMWare Workstation to play around with various OSes for a while but a few weeks ago I started over from scratch and decided to be semi serious in order to try to get more advanced with Active Directory administration. Ever since I promoted my Server 2012 R2 to be a domain controller (started from scratch with a new forest and everything) and joined my Server 2008R2, Windows 7 and Windows XP VMs to the domain, I have one big issue. No matter what Windows based VM I am in, It will randomly freeze up for about 3 or 4 minutes, and while VMWare is still active and functional the individual VMs aren’t. I can toggle between the different VMs, but as soon as I perform one mouse click, everything freezes. All of the commands (ie attempt to close out a window, then attempt to click the start menu, then attempt to send a ctrl alt del command) stack and then execute one after another in a second or two after everything becomes unfrozen. I don’t do anything specific to regain functionality, just wait it out for a few minutes. If I happen to have non Windows based VMs powered on, they are frozen too, just at a black screen.

Host Machine:

Windows 10 Pro
VMWare Workstation 12.1 Pro
Intel Core i7 Extreme (Hexacore 4th gen 4960X)
GeForce 770
Intel 730 480 GB SSD/Seagate Barracuda 2 TB HDD (VMWare is on the SSD, all VMs live on the HDD)

Six VMs:

Windows Server 2012R2 Datacenter (Domain Controller, DNS)
Windows Server 2008R2 Enterprise (SQL Server, future Sharepoint Server)
Windows 7 SP1 Pro
Windows XP SP3 Pro
Fedora Core 23
OS X 10.11.3 El Capitan

All VMs are two processors, two cores each. The two servers have 100GB SATA HDDs and 6GB of RAM each. The four workstations have 80 GB HDDs and 5 GB of RAM each, except for the XP VM which I configured with 2. All OSes at this point are still mostly stock, except for XP, which I applied the registry trick so I can still get monthly security patches.

- To my recollection this only started happening after adding those other virtual PCs to the domain
- I usually don’t have more than 2 or 3 VMs powered up simultaneously.
- No events are triggered in the Event Viewers of my host PC or any of the individual VMs

Any help would be appreciated, I'm not really sure where to begin. I really don't want to demote/decommission the Server 2012R2 domain controller and put everything back in a workgroup and try it all over again.
I never really noticed, but I can't imagine it's more than 20-22 gigs. I'll have to check next time it happens.
I've had 3 Virtual Machines going for about 30 minutes now. I'm installing a few new features on Server '12, installing updates for MS Project on Win7 and OS X is sitting there idle waiting for me (a staunch Apple hater) to have my daily lesson of Mac. And no problems thus far.


Start cranking up the remaining VMs one by one while watching Task Manager on the host.
I read your post earlier at work and I was attempting to do that as soon as I got home when I got a phone call, and had to head out in the garage for a little while and came back and everything was frozen. Got a few things squared away after everything became unfrozen and went into town to grab a few slices of pizza for dinner, came back up and it was frozen again. And lo and behold a light bulb went off I think I figured it out.

I think the 'Turn off Display' option in the Power Control Panel on the Windows VMs caused something not to play nice with VMWare. It seems my virtual displays were not waking up properly or at all causing VMWare to get weird. Which makes sense that it didn't happen until joining my computers to the domain. One of the very first things I do after a clean install of Windows is disable all power saving functionality and enable the Mystify screen saver, so that setting was disabled on my local accounts. Since these settings are unique to each logon profile, I never changed them from the default after joining the domain. Looking back at every time in froze up, it is entirely possible that one of the other Windows VMs was idle long enough to have the display turn off.

Its been a little over an hour now, and so far no trouble. Hopefully that's what it was.

I will continue to keep an eye on the memory of the host though just to make sure. Thanks for the help!
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Had a problem with Server '08R2 so I removed it for the time being. Installed Win 8.1 and Server '16 Preview. Booted all 7 up at the same time, logged on and 10 minutes later 100% disk usage and 80% memory usage. While all VMs are slow, not as slow as I would have thought, no freeze ups or total black screens.

80% memory usage
In your first post I was a little concerned regarding memory allocation between host and VMs vs total memory. Best practices say anything over 80% sustained memory usage is not good, and additional memory should be added. So you are right on the border line.

If you fixed the lockup situation with 'Turn off Display' and power options and you are happy with the slower performance, than you may be OK with it for your purposes, especially if you don't plan on running all hosts all the time.
Good catch by the way on the display and power options!
Turning that stuff off is the right way to go when having strange issues.

Is the disk usage a constant 100% all the time?
Sorry for the delay. Been a fun week so far at work.

Disk usage is at 100%, or close to it on my D: drive pretty much the entire time I run VMs. Right now I have three running and it's been pegged at 100% almost the entire time. I was thinking this was normal, on second thought, I'm guessing not?

Probably you are swapping memory out to disk too much.
Read to the section:
Edit the virtual machine settings to reduce I/O usage by using more host memory

Maybe try this first as in the second link:


NOTE I am not down in the trenches as a system admin anymore and cant verify location of settings on a newer live system, but the principles are still the same.
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Thanks, I will check out the links tomorrow. And see what changes I can make.

I Googled it as well, and came to an article where someone mentioned that decreasing the processors helped his situation. I shut down the virtual machines and edited the properties, and went down to 1 processor with 2 cores still. It did seem to help, but as you can see it's fluctuating a lot, it's just not pegged anymore. Server 2012R2, 8.1 and Server 2016 are booted up, and Server 2016 was installing what appeared to be a massive update.


After the update, and reboot with everything idle.


Never the less, I will looks into the settings you mentioned and report back. Thanks again!
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