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I have Ubuntu 10.04 and I'm running Virtual Box 3.2.8 OSE running on my fairly standard laptop (2.4GHz i3, 2GB RAM, 5.4K RPM SATAII drive).

When I start up a WinXP my laptop hard drive light is just stuck on and everything on my laptop slows down, becoming unusable. I moved the .vdi hard drive image to an external USB drive (another 5.4k RPM drive) but the issue remains, although it happens less often (like "every other" time I start it up).

Without the VM running I have about 700-800MBs of RAM used. When I start up the VM (I have only assigned 768MBs to it) it gets to around 1.4GBs.

I just cant understand why with it being on my external drive it still causes my laptop hard drive light to lock on like it does.

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Running a VM takes alot of resources, including alot of hard drive read/writes (they may be 'virtual', but they're still read/writes!), the way i understand it the RAM allocation/setup in the VM is taken out of the available free RAM (not the pagefile) so you will see it as 'used' in the host OS. – HaydnWVN Dec 6 '11 at 11:41
I know it does but even just firing up the XP VM and installing adobe reader, it was causing my laptop to have little 2 second freezes....Maybe its just the laptop and I need to get over it :) – jwbensley Dec 6 '11 at 11:53
Really does sound like it's struggling to run it, although it really shouldn't as it's not a bad spec! I used to happily run VPC on a desktop P4 2.0 with 4gb RAM, but more than 1 was a real pain... I now happily run 3 on a Q6600 with 8gb :) – HaydnWVN Dec 6 '11 at 12:38
Yeah exactly, I have a 2.5 Core2Duo at home with 4GP ram, I can run an XP guest and GNS3 with about 10 routes happily?! Even now, with the VM open doing nothing, idle on the desktop, my hard drive light is fairly busy...I'm sure there is something wrong like – jwbensley Dec 6 '11 at 12:56
It does sound like something is wrong, either that or it's a repercussion from using a 5.4K RPM drive... Which might be a factor, but i wouldn't expect that to cause your freezing symptom. – HaydnWVN Dec 6 '11 at 13:43
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I have solved this my self; use KVM! :)

I have some existing Virtual Box machines from another laptop I copied over to mine, so that was why I used VirtualBox on this laptop in the first place. I should have installed KVM from the start though really (I was beign lazy). I have installed KVM and the performance is much better (and all new KVM machines have been installed to an external USB2 hard drive to take more of the load off my laptop). Everything runs much better now.

As a side note, I found some of my Google Chrome extensions are somehow interfering. I can reliably turn them on and notice a performance decrease when running virtual machines, and off and reliably see an increase, weird.

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I had this problem with Windows 7 and an Ubuntu VM, I set the VMs RAM limit to 1024MB (even though I had more free RAM) and it took care of the problem for me.

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