Tips for improving Windows 7 performance in VMWare Fusion

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 11 Jan 2010

So you are new to a mac, but you still need to cling to Windows every now and then. Then I can recommend you get hold of VMWare Fusion. If you want to build a Windows virtual machine, it is easy enough. However, if you want to make the machine run well, there is a few things you can do.

  1. If you are running Windows 7 and a older version of VMWare Fusion, consider upgrading to Fusion 3. It really does improve performance a lot.
  2. Get more RAM. If you have less than 4GB memory, you should really get more. It is the most bang for the buck upgrade you can do for your machine.
  3. First up, switch off visual effects. Open up Control Panel -> System. From there select Advanced System Settings. Under performance, select Settings. Then choose "Adjust for best performance". True, you lose some of Windows 7's eye candy, but it becomes a lot speedier. If you cannot live without Aero Peek (which is great), you can at least switch off unnecessary animations.
  4. If you are using Windows on your Mac just for productivity software, you might want to consider switching off the sound. Easy enough - at the bottom of the VM window, right click the speaker icon and select "Disconnect Sound Card". Its easy to enable again as well.
  5. If you are installing Windows 7, try going for the 64 bit version. The 64 bit version of Windows 7 will enable the use of Intel's VT instruction sets which will make the VM run faster.
  6. If you are running Windows Vista inside a VM, you should upgrade to Windows 7. Vista is terrible inside a VM.
  7. You do not typically have to give Windows more than one processor. Also, it does not need more than 1 gig RAM, or 2 gig if you do more heavy duty stuff.
  8. If you have the option, run the virtual machine from a second disk. All the better if that disk is Firewire instead of USB. This will make everything more responsive.
  9. Defragment your virtual machine. Using a tool like Defraggler, defragment your VM. Then, shut down the virtual machine and clean up your VM disk. In VMWare, go to settings -> Disk and then choose "Clean Up". Do this every few weeks if possible. 
There are obviously more complex methods to improve performance as well, but these are the things I found that makes the biggest improvement.
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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.