Anyone who's experienced Windows performance delays within VMware Fusion on a Mac while awaiting Windows 10 updates to download and install will appreciate the importance of optimizing Windows virtual machine (VM) installations.
SEE: Ebook—Boost your Mac productivity with these 10 techniques (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
My VMware Fusion install—to which 2GB RAM and a single processor core were dedicated on a MacBook Air with an Intel Core i7 CPU and 8GB RAM—ran well for months but then became essentially useless while recent Windows 10 updates were downloading and installing. The process literally required hours. The event was a wake-up call as to the need to periodically also maintain the Windows installation on my Mac.
Here are three steps I took that I recommend other VMware Fusion users consider adopting, too.
1. Temporarily increase the dedicated core and memory resources when performing Windows maintenance
Go ahead and bite the bullet.
Realizing I couldn't use my Windows 10 install for much of anything else, even accessing a cloud-based web application, while the VM was downloading and installing recent Windows 10 updates, I temporarily increased the resources available to VMware Fusion by configuring the maximum CPU cores and memory (four processor cores and 5623MB RAM) the VMware software recommends (Figure A). The additional resources, combined with letting the macOS side rest to ensure macOS and Windows processes wouldn't overly compete for resources, significantly accelerated the installation of Windows security updates, application hotfixes, and performance updates.
Adjust the resources dedicated to the VMware Fusion VM by opening VMware Fusion and, before starting the VM (a VMware Fusion VM's CPU and RAM resources cannot be adjusted while the VM is active), clicking Virtual Machine from the macOS menu bar and selecting Settings. Click the Processors & Memory icon within the System Settings section. Specify the number of Cores using the Processors drop-down menu. Leverage the Memory slider bar to increase the RAM to be dedicated to the VM. You can start the VM and receive the benefits of the additional dedicated resources.
SEE: The MacLovin' Freebie Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)
2. Run a Windows Disk Cleanup
Over time, my typically small (less than 10GB) Windows installation grew to consuming as much as 45GB of hard disk space. I was able to reduce the Windows installation to requiring less than 15GB of disk space by running general cleanup tasks. You can do so by following these steps.
- Click Start.
- Click the Cortana icon.
- Type Disk Cleanup and press Return.
- The Disk Cleanup window will open. I recommend checking the boxes for Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Recycle Bin, and Temporary Files, but you'll have to confirm these files are no longer required on your Windows VM (there were unnecessary on mine).
- Click OK.
With the Disk Cleanup window open, you can remove additional typically no longer needed system files by following these steps.
- Click the Clean Up System Files button.
- The Disk Cleanup utility will search the Windows system, then display the Disk Cleanup window but with additional options available, including Windows Defender Antivirus, Windows Upgrade Log Files, and Systems Created Windows Error Reporting.
- Check the boxes to select the elements no longer needed for your Windows installation (I chose to remove all these items from my installation), and then click OK.
Be sure to consider removing no longer needed upgrade and log files, as they can consume significant disk space. You should be regularly creating and backing up Windows VM Snapshots, anyway.
SEE: Securing Windows policy (Tech Pro Research)
3. Download and install Windows updates
Periodically double check your Windows installation to ensure the OS remains current with security updates and performance patches. Many recent well-publicized data encryption viruses wouldn't have experienced as much success if victims had downloaded available security patches.
Download and install Microsoft security patches and performance hotfixes by following these steps.
- Click the Start button.
- Click the Settings gear icon.
- Click Update & Security.
- Click the Check For Updates button.
- Opt to download and install available security patches, performance updates, and application hotfixes, or review the status of Windows Updates that are in the process of downloading and installing (Figure B).
Regularly follow these practices, and you'll know you're being proactive and doing what you can to help maintain Windows operation on your Mac.
- Boot Camp vs. VM when running Windows on a Mac: How to select the best option (TechRepublic)
- End-of-the-year cleanup checklist for Macs (TechRepublic)
- How to upgrade your Mac to VMware Fusion 8 (TechRepublic)
- How to upgrade Fusion to Windows 10 and fix a SVGA error (TechRepublic)
- VMware brings Windows 10 support with launch of Fusion 8, Workstation 12 (ZDNet)
- Quick glossary: Virtualization (Tech Pro Research)
- Virtualization policy (Tech Pro Research)
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.