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Installing Exchange 2013 in VirtualBox VM Unbearably Slow RRS feed

  • Question

  • I'm trying to install Exchange 2013 in a VM to play with it (specifically interested in the DLP feature).

    I use VirtualBox (currently v4.2.6) for my hypervisor.

    My host machine has a AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor and 8 GB RAM (it's a desktop).

    I've setup a VM configured w/ 2 processor, 2.5GB RAM, and 35 GB fixed-size disk and installed Windows Server 2012 RTM in it.  I installed VirtualBox's Guest Additions and also applied all updates for Windows (except Silverlight).  At this point, the VM starts up quickly and is very responsive--I barely notice that it's in a VM (<3% CPU utilization).

    Next I installed Office 2013 and all of its updates.  No problem, guest is still very responsive (<3% CPU utilization).

    Next I setup a Domain Controller in the guest.  Again, the system is still very responsive as before (<3% CPU utilization).

    Up to this point everything is fine.

    Finally I try to install Exchange 2013 RTM.  I install all pre-requisites as documented in TechNet, and everything is fine.  But the installation of Exchange 2013 RTM has failed all 3 times.  Each time it fails during Step 8 (Transport) due to a timeout condition (usually times out waiting for some newly installed service to start).  The guest is consuming 100% of the CPU, and it's completely unusable (takes 30+ sec for each mouse click to take effect).  Task Manager shows many processes consuming various amounts of CPU, generally less than 5% each.  Seems like death of a thousand cuts.  The biggest CPU consumers are multiple instances of "Microsoft Sharepoint Search Component" (!).  I did not install Sharepoint on the machine.  Yet there are at least 3 of these processes, each consuming 10% - 20% CPU.  Killing them doesn't help--they just come back.  I've walked the list of services (painfully given how slow the guest is running and lack of responsiveness) and stopped some which I guess to be relating to search.  That works to a limited extent--the search processes come back after restart and sporadically thereafter.  Even when none of them are running, the guest is very sluggish.  I see several Exchange processes consuming CPU (including Transport), yet I have not setup a single mailbox yet!

    I read the Exchange 2013 prerequisites for hardware and software.  I do not see any specific requirements for hardware in terms of CPU speed or cores.  I read the virtualization section and found it unhelpful.

    I've spent the better part of 3 solid days on this and so far I am very frustrated and disappointed (though my subconscious isn't entirely surprised).  Do I really need a datacenter to toy with Exchange?

    Sunday, March 3, 2013 6:31 AM

All replies

  • You need to read the guideslines again as Exchange 2013 needs at least 16GB of ram (Recommended) and your trying to run it on 2.5G. The most reason why your CPU spikes is virtual memory as your vm requires more ram.

    Also, if you want to save memory do not use Windows Server 2012 as it consumes more memory than 2008 R2. I'm running Exchange 2013 on 6GB of ram on a HP Microsoerver and it works perfectlly. I also run Sharepoint, Lync and webbapp on my ESXi Microsoerver with 16GB of ram and the servers where i run Windows 2012 takes 3 times the CPU load.


    sTUDIOX

    Sunday, March 3, 2013 2:05 PM
  • You need to read the guideslines again as Exchange 2013 needs at least 16GB of ram (Recommended) and your trying to run it on 2.5G. The most reason why your CPU spikes is virtual memory as your vm requires more ram.

    Thanks for the info.  I considered that the problem might be due to insufficient memory, but the guest is consuming <50% of it, even when there are multiple "Microsoft Sharepoint Search Component" processes.  So I'm not sure that's the problem.

    Are any of your deployments inside a VM?

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013 12:56 AM
  • It will be your hard drive. Check the performance of it while it's running.
    Tuesday, March 5, 2013 2:54 AM
  • It will be your hard drive. Check the performance of it while it's running.

    Thanks for the suggestion.  I checked the host's hard disk at the time and it had relatively little activity.  I don't recall the exact #s, but it was only sporadic reads & writes.  There were times that I was doing heavy disk I/O on the host where I saw the disk usage spike (as expected), but beyond that, nothing jumped out at me.

    So to summarize, the guest's CPU usage was continuously pegged while RAM was well below 50% and hard disk activity (again, only observed from the host) was minimal.

    Since I'm not making progress w/ the VM install, I ordered a Dell 1U CS24-SC to install w/out a VM.  The machine has 2x Quad-Core Xeon L5420 2.5GHz with 16GB RAM.  Is this powerful enough to toy with Exchange?

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013 2:09 PM
  • You need to read the guideslines again as Exchange 2013 needs at least 16GB of ram (Recommended) and your trying to run it on 2.5G. The most reason why your CPU spikes is virtual memory as your vm requires more ram.

    Thanks for the info.  I considered that the problem might be due to insufficient memory, but the guest is consuming <50% of it, even when there are multiple "Microsoft Sharepoint Search Component" processes.  So I'm not sure that's the problem.

    Are any of your deployments inside a VM?

    Are you sure the memory usage is reported accurate? Have you installed any VirtualBox's agents on the host? Are VirtualBox aware of Windows Server 2012? Have you monitored the cpu and memory performance on the actual host? How is your virtual disk and controller setup? Did Windows 2012 install quicklly? Have you given it time for the initial setup? (There initial setup could take hours cpu usage patterns go low)

    I'm running all deployments inside Vmware ESX - would not even try to do that on a desktop. This is just lab of course (no one runs HP Microservers in production, at least not me...)


    sTUDIOX

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013 7:20 PM
  • The supported hypervisors are listed in here http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/results.aspx?&bCatID=1521&cpID=0&avc=0&ava=0&avq=0&OR=1&PGS=25

    The other suggestion is to have a separate DC and Exchange server.  Installing onto a DC is not a recommended solution, and is not supported for DAG members.

    The SharePoint processes that you are seeing are probably the new FAST search Exchange.  Tell me the exact names to be sure please. 


    Cheers,

    Rhoderick

    Microsoft Senior Exchange PFE

    Blog: http://blogs.technet.com/rmilne  Twitter:   LinkedIn:   Facebook:   XING:

    Note: Posts are provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose.

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013 9:51 PM
  • Are you sure the memory usage is reported accurate? Have you installed any VirtualBox's agents on the host? Are VirtualBox aware of Windows Server 2012? Have you monitored the cpu and memory performance on the actual host? How is your virtual disk and controller setup? Did Windows 2012 install quicklly? Have you given it time for the initial setup? (There initial setup could take hours cpu usage patterns go low)

    I installed VirtualBox's Guest Additions in Server2012 and confirmed they are all working shortly after installing the guest OS (Windows Server 2012).

    Tracking memory usage of the guest from the host is not reliable because the hypervisor presents a "middleman" to the memory.  The memory usage I quoted above is directly from Task Manager in the guest.

    Yes, I confirmed the CPU usage in the host.

    Virtual disk is a fixed disk w/ SATA.

    Good question about Windows Server 2012 install. I found that the install went somewhat quick, but afterward I noticed a considerable amount of CPU taken for .NET optimization processes.  I had installed the OS several weeks ago and let it sit for days.  All of that optimization had ended a long time ago, and I only see it again after some Windows updates, which I leave the VM for several hours until it's all done.  As I mentioned above, the guest was very responsive and consumed very little CPU before installing Exchange.

    If the issue were insufficient RAM, I'd expect the CPU utilization in Task Manager would be for a system process (as it's thrashing the disk paging in & out), not Exchange processes right?

    From what I can tell, the issue is mostly related to the search processes.  I left the VM run overnight hoping that it was just an initial need to index stuff, but over 12 hours later it was still consuming 100% of the CPU.

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013 8:32 AM
  • The other suggestion is to have a separate DC and Exchange server.  Installing onto a DC is not a recommended solution, and is not supported for DAG members.

    The SharePoint processes that you are seeing are probably the new FAST search Exchange.  Tell me the exact names to be sure please.


    I've read the suggested guidance about installing the DC separately from the Exchange server.  But can this cause such a performance problem?  I'm only looking to toy w/ Exchange here.

    The Sharepoint processes were named "Microsoft Sharepoint Search Component" in Task Manager.

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013 8:37 AM