My company has Xen servers, the hardware is pretty solid, my questions pertains to setting up a Virtual Windows 2014R2 File Server in this environment.

Has anyone had any experience with VM file servers?

Would you create a small VHD (100GB) for the file server as one and then have the files stored on a separate larger VHD (No OS installed) (1TB) or just make one 1.1TB file?

Is there a performance/security/stability/backup gain in using 2 VHDs on a Virtual File Server?

Also, is it better practice to separate out file shares on VHDs like 1 file for user files and another file for Departmental shares? Does the VM environment gain anything from this separation or is the server being one big fat file a better idea?

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I am definately not an expert in this area but have worked in server support quite a bit in the past.

The performance depends not necessarily on how many VMs you create, but more on the design of your storage.

Aside from perfomance, you should consider the management of your data. Seperating out the file shares, user data may help you with regards to how you manage the data (backups, permissions, etc..). It will also allow you to store your data on different types of logical disks (different quality of disks, raid arrays, slower disks for data accessed left often, etc...).

When dealing with VMs, another thing that is missed often by server admins is the type of antivirus/antimalware software that it used. Do some research in this area. With the VM environments, many of the enterprise class AV products have a specific client/plug-in that is used in the VM environment. If you use a classic endpoint on each vm, you are going to see a performance hit because of the various endpoints trying to scan the same files/same disks all at the same time.

To add... there is no hard,fast rule of thumb when it comes to creating the Virtual Disks. Even MS own best practices worksheets instruct you to test in a lab and try different scenarios under a test load to see which works best for you.

On the practical side for servers, you would generally want a dedicated Disk for OS and a separate disk for user files/shares. Keep the OS safe from 'disk full' errors by not letting users save files into C.

Number of shares depends on the use. For user's home directories, I create a HOME share open to all domain users. Then I use NTFS to protect user folders like \server\home\johndoe and \server\home\janedeer. You can easily use AD tools to map a user to home or use a logon script for \server\home\%USERNAME% for example.

Thanks JorjeM for your mention of AV, I haven't noticed AV on any server I have hit so far (I am new here).

Thanks for your feedback. That's pretty much been my MO with shares, but this is a new environment for me in the all things VM world.

I have done other research and it seems pass-through with iSCSI seems to be popular, we aren't going this route. I think we'll head the route of separate VHDs for users and department shares and keep the OS on another VHD. I think iSCSI will just open up a can of worms.

In VM space, a RAW iSCSI mapping has it's pro's and con's.

With RAW mappings, VM based snapshots are not usually possible. So if you plan on RAW mappings, make sure your SAN is making regular snaps/backups of the partition.

Usualy, using the VHD format i.e. VMDK is 'good enough' for 95% of the use cases our there. IMHO.

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