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What is the best way to setup/optimize shared folders in VMWare for the fasted possible I/O?

I'm not, the, only, one who has noticed shared folders are painfully slow. I'm using shared folders for web site testing (Drupal, WordPress) and/or compiling code (VS, gcc) across different VM environments, so I'd rather not have 5+ rsync'd NFS with the same data.


If SF are always going to be slow, what is the best/most performant way to share folders between host and guest for a web/compiling situation?

(Win 8 host, VM workstations of various guests (OSX, Unbuntu, etc.))

  • Have them on SSD. – Ramhound Jan 13 '16 at 17:56
  • What version of VMware Workstation (or Player) are you using? In general, network shares are faster than shared folders. – jamesdlin Jan 13 '16 at 20:12
  • @Ramhound Who uses HDD anymore? Lol – Drakes Jan 14 '16 at 0:25
  • @jamesdlin I'd be interested in knowing why this is. (It's the last two major VM workstation releases) – Drakes Jan 14 '16 at 0:30
  • Most people if they need large RAIDs or lots of storage space SSD is still several factors more expensive per GB – Ramhound Jan 14 '16 at 0:36
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Apparently, you can get a drastically faster connection by using Windows file sharing (SMB), with bridged networking selected (as opposed to NAT).

This is discussed in this thread: https://communities.vmware.com/thread/520731?start=30&tstart=0

RusIsh Apr 27, 2018 9:29 PM (in response to swineone)

Expose the VM to the base network by selecting the physical LAN adapter in the "Bridged Networking" sections in "Network Adapter" settings. Map network resource as a mapped drive in Guest OS. Try and perform some operations on the newly mapped drive.

Here's some benchmarks also on that page of the thread:

geneg1 Jul 5, 2018 3:07 PM (in response to RusIsh)

Just did a little testing on my own C++ project in Visual Studio 2013 running on VMWare Fusion 10.0.1, macOS 10.13.15, guest OS Windows 10 x64 Pro

  1. Full project rebuild with source files local to the guest OS: 219 seconds

  2. Full project rebuild with source files on host OS, connected via Windows file sharing (SMB), using bridged networking: 355 seconds

  3. Full project rebuild with source files on host OS, connected via Windows file sharing (SMB), using NAT networking: 2257 seconds (not a typo)

  4. Full project rebuild with source files on host OS, connected via VMWare Shared Folders (HGFS), using NAT networking: 2168 seconds

So @Ruslsh is definitely on to something. Bridged networking vs. NAT made a huge difference, at least for me. Still 40% slower than keeping the source files on the guest OS though.

Just for kicks I tried turning Windows Defender off on test #2 and the result was 342 seconds. A measurable but not huge savings. I'm not running any other AV software on the host or guest.

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