Cleaning Up Old VMWare Workstation Snapshots

VMWare WorkstationI’m a big fan of VMWare Workstation, as it allows me to have virtual machines which represent all sorts of machine states. Of course, if you’re reading this blog, you probably know all about VMs and why they are useful.

I’ve noticed over time that my blazing fast SSDs seemed to just get more and more full, and way beyond the level I’d expect with that I’m doing. In many cases I’ve deleted old snapshots of VMs just to free up more space. It wasn’t what I wanted to do (I wanted to keep the snapshots so that I could choose to go back to them) but it was a fast way to get a large amount of space.

Sometimes I got a message that said something like “Not enough space available to clean up deleted files. Free up 6.2Gb more space.” I didn’t just ignore those messages, but I didn’t pay much attention, either. I assumed that the old files would get cleaned up at some point.

It turns out I was wrong. I had a whole bunch of old disk files I didn’t need from snapshots I’d already deleted in the Snapshot Manager.

After some poking around on the Interwebs, I found some ideas about how to clean up that space. First, I copied some very large files (not VMs) off onto one of my backup drives, which freed up about 20Gb on my C: drive. Then I opened one of my big VMs without starting it and went to the Snapshot Manager. I created a new snapshot and then immediately deleted it. During that cleanup, VMWare cleaned up all of the old, unneeded files as well.

Now I’m back to having 20 or 30Gb free on my C: drive all the time. Oh, I’ll fill it up soon enough, but at least it’ll be with something I actually want to have there.

VMWare vCenter ConverterAnother useful tool you can use with VMWare is the vCenter Converter. Using this tool, you can “convert” a VM from one location on your hard drive to another. Any uneccessary files are left behind and you can safely delete them. (Do yourself a favor and keep a copy for a while until you are sure all is well.)

Building a New SharePoint 2010 Virtual Machine from Scratch – Even I Can Do It

<UPDATE DateTime=”2010-11-18 10:36:00 EST”>
 Based on feedback from many people here and on Twitter, I’ve decided to build out my VM using Andrew Connell’s instructions. All of the admin types who have seen what I’m doing keep telling me things like “Well, if you want to do certain things down the road…” or “That’s not really the way a farm will be set up…”.  These are all maybes and shouldas, but why risk it?

As I said below, this is a VM purely for my own use, but I’m also finding it really useful and interesting to go through all of these steps to get the VM built. I’m taking lots of snapshots so that I can go back and change my mind without starting over, so it isn’t even all that painful to do so. I still think that the instructions below are useful for someone just trying to get their toes wet. Give it a whirl.

I’ve been limping along with a SharePoint 2010 (SP2010) beta virtual machine (VM) for almost a year now. A month or two ago something from Windows Update (I think) put it out of commission. Or maybe it just reached the end of its allowed life. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t playing nice for me anymore. I’ve been working with SP2010 in my client projects, so I didn’t care too much, but I finally got to the point where I really needed to have a playground VM on my laptop.

Because of all of the mumbling and grousing I hear on Twitter, in blogs, etc., I have assumed for a long time that building SharePoint servers from scratch is for the pros, not for some old hack like me. So I was dreading the whole thing. Turns out I should have trusted my own capabilities and the simplicity of the process more. The whole thing took me less than 90 minutes and I wasn’t even paying a lot of attention.

Here’s the “Installing SharePoint 2010 from the ground up for dummies” process. Of course, this assumes that you have the bits for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010 Server. I got mine from my Action Pack subscription. (One of the best deals on Microsoft software on the planet, IMHO.) It also assumes that you just want to have a single server playground for yourself.  I’m using VMWare Workstation 7.1 and I have the best laptop in the world, so your mileage may vary.

The first step was to create a new VM with Windows 2008 R2 installed. I didn’t capture all of the steps for this, but trust me when I say that VMWare makes this so easy it’s almost laughable. All you need to do is point VMWare at the ISO file and it knows exactly what to do.

<UPDATE DateTime=”2010-11-13 11:19:00 EST”> I added in the screenshots from the Windows Server 2008 R2 install in case it is helpful to anyone. </UPDATE>


























And there we go! Once I had the OS installed I took a snapshot of the VM.

<UPDATE DateTime=”2010-11-16 22:18:00 EST”>
Due to suggestions from several people, the most impactful being Bjorn’s comment below, I decided to take a few steps back and install Active Directory. Since I’d taken snapshots of the VM, it was pretty easy to go back and do that additional step at this point in the process. I used the very clear instructions that Andrew Connell put together on the Critical Path Web site. In the version that I used, the instructions for installing Active Directory start on page 13. Once done with this new step, I took another snapshot of the VM

<UPDATE DateTime=”2010-11-17 22:51:00 EST”>
Initially I installed UltraISO at this point. Bjorn also pointed out in the comments that I don’t need UltraISO (as much as I love it) because I can simply mount the ISO for SharePoint 2010 directly in VMWare. Here’s what that looks like.


Next step, run the Prerequisite Installer. This is the program PrerequisiteInstaller.exe which is found in the root of the ISO. Here’s what it looks like as it runs:





After a reboot, I took another snapshot of the VM.

Next up: SharePoint 2010 itself. Running setup.exe in the root of the ISO gets that rolling.



I chose the second option: Server Farm. I only want a single server farm, but I’ve heard enough people say to never click that first button (Standalone) that I didn’t.







When you close the SharePoint 2010 installation program, it immediately launches the configuration wizard, assuming you leave that box checked. The only choice I had to make here was to say “Yes’ in the second screenshot.





Clicking Finish above pops you into the Site Creation page in the browser. I was prompted for credentials, but that seemed appropriate.clip_image034

Et voila!


I’m not sure how that could have been any easier.

Note: for you admin purists out there, I’m sure that I broke a whole bunch of your rules and best practices. I’d love to hear what you think I did wrong, but remember that this is only a local playground VM for me, and me alone. My guess is that I’m just fine.

Only One SharePoint Virtual Machine Since Early 2007

Because I do 90+% of my work with SharePoint in the Middle Tier, I’ve been using just one SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) virtual machine (VM) since early 2007.  This VM is self-contained and when I need a new, unique environment, I just spin up a new Web App and Site Collection.

Why is this blog-worthy? Well, I see tweets and posts all the time about people recreating their VMs because they have hosed them somehow or because they are starting a new project and need a clean file system.  Because I typically don’t touch the file system, there’s very little for me to break.

Another reason I can still be using the same VM is I can do most development in a live environment rather than a VM.  I can open and work with even cloud-based WSS instances with SharePoint Designer without touching the file system.

I did convert the VM from VirtualPC to VMWare Workstation a few months ago when I got my new monster laptop.  I used the VMware vCenter Converter Standaloneto accomplish this, and once I figured out how it all worked, it went off without a hitch.  So, technically, it’s not the same VM, but that’s just being picky.