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Virtual Worlds Authors: Kevin Benedict, AppDynamics Blog, David Dodd, Pat Romanski, Corey Roth

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High Guest CPU Utilization in VirtualBox 3.2.6 and Other Issues

A Report on the Issues Faced in the VitualBox Upgrade

When my laptop was stolen, I was forced to rebuild a number of Virtual Machines since my new external hard disk had not come in yet for me to back them up.  On my previous laptop, I was running VirtualBox 3.1.8 and my SharePoint 2010 images worked great.  When I got my new laptop, I decided to grab the latest version (at the time 3.2.4).  I noticed immediately that the product was rebranded from Sun VirtualBox to Oracle VirtualBox.  I did have a few existing virtual hard disks in various formats (.vhd and .vmdx) so I created new virtual machines and attached them as normal.  I tried to boot each one of them only to immediately receive a BSoD with a STOP error of 0x0000007F.  At some point during this process, 3.2.6 came out, so I decided to upgrade.  No change.  After doing some research, I discovered this was hard disk controller based.  I looked at my settings and realized that VirtualBox 3.2 had implemented a SATA controller and the hard disk was attached to it.  I finally tracked down one of my existing configuration files to confirm that my hard disk previously were attached as IDE (PIIX4 to be specific).  I reattached the hard disks to IDE and they booted fine.

On my new SharePoint 2010 RTM image (Windows Server 2008 R2 x64), I noticed it wasn’t performing very well.  I wondered if it had something to do with the hard disk controller, but I quickly ruled that out.  What I discovered is that my CPU Utilization was almost always maxed out on the guest (the host OS was fine).  The executables sqlserver.exe, owstimer.exe, and various w3wp.exe processes were consuming most of the memory.  I figured it had some jobs that needed to run and let it sit overnight and the CPU utilization appeared to go down in the morning.  However, as soon as I sent a single page request, the CPUs were pegged out at 100% again.  The VM was pretty much unusable.  I did some research and couldn’t find anything that helped.  In a last ditch effort, I uninstalled 3.2.6 and went back and found version 3.1.8.  I installed it, attached the same virtual hard disks, and the CPU utilization issue has been gone ever since.  During the process I built another separate Virtual Machine and it had the same issue as well.  Maybe it is just my issue or something else, but for now I am avoiding version 3.2.6 of VirtualBox.  I haven’t had a single issue with the product yet, so this was a shock to me.  I’m wondering if anyone else has had issues.  I will continue to use the product but I will be skeptical of any product upgrades until I see some mention of this issue.

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More Stories By Corey Roth

Corey Roth, a SharePoint Server MVP, is an independent consultant specializing in Cloud technologies such as Azure and Office 365. He also specializes in mobile development. Corey serves as the product manager for two cloud-first mobile app platforms: BrewZap and HappenZap.