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Best Practices for ESX Host Partitions

Installing ESX is fast and simple. By default you could click through the installer GUI changing only your local time zone and end up with a stable, dependable host. However, there are some recommended partitioning best practices that should be followed in order to make sure you minimize possible future headaches and create a repeatable and scalable environment.

This post uses content from documents found in the VI Plan and Design Toolkit available to VMware partners. Logging on to Partner Central and accessing > Info Center > VAC > Services is how you find the various toolkits. It also should be pointed out that the partitioning information in this post is for ESX 3.x only, and is not applicable to ESX 3i, 2.x or previous versions.

When installing ESX you quickly reach the Partitioning Options screen. Select the “Recommended” radio button initially. You can then make changes from the Partitioning Disks screen which follows.

Primary Partition Changes

Best practices state that the following partitions should be made “Primary” partitions:

/boot

/

Swap

This can be accomplished by selecting each of the aforementioned partitions (one at a time) and clicking the “Edit” button. The configuration options for that partition/file system will be brought up. Select (turn on) the checkbox option near the bottom of the box labeled “Force to be a primary partition”. Do this for each of 3 file systems listed above, clicking “OK” after fixing each file system.

Create New Partitions

Following VMware best practices, it is best to dedicate entire partitions for the following directories:

/var

/tmp

/home

This can be accomplished by clicking New.

Follow the configurations from the following table, as the file system should reflect these sizes. Click Next when finished.

Local Storage Partitions

This table shows the service console partitions and sizes for each ESX Server host. Some of these recommended partition sizes are larger than the default values. The additional partitions and increased sizes will protect against the critical root partition getting filled up which can lead to issues. Note that this section does not apply for ESX Server 3i. Also, the following partition table uses less than 16 GB of space.

Service Console Partitions and Sizes for Each ESX Server Host

Mount Point Partition Size Description

/dev/sda (Primary)

/boot ext3 250 MB Change for additional space for upgrades
N/A swap 1600 MB Change for maximum service console swap size
/ ext3 5120 MB Change for additional space in root

/dev/sda (Extended)

/var ext3 4096 MB Create partition to avoid overfilling root with log files
/tmp ext3 1024 MB Create partition to avoid overfilling root with temporary files
/opt ext3 2048 MB Create partition to avoid overfilling root with VMware HA log files
/home ext3 1024 MB Create partition to avoid overfilling root with agent / user files
vmkcore 100 MB Pre-configured
Free Space (Optional) Auto-configured and used for local VMFS-3 volume (needed for virtual machines running Microsoft’s Clustering Software.

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  • andrewstaflin

    Does it really worth it that much to purchase Virtual Center? Would it be worth it to purchase Virtual center
    If I don’t upgrade my VI3 from standard to Enterprise. The post above cheered me up a lot into buying it, but it did not
    mention what it will give & not give in standard edition.

    http://www.virtualizationteam.com/virtualization-vmware/vmware-virtual-server-virtualization-vmware/virtualcenter-for-vm-ware-server-real-value.html

  • andrewstaflin

    Does it really worth it that much to purchase Virtual Center? Would it be worth it to purchase Virtual center
    If I don’t upgrade my VI3 from standard to Enterprise. The post above cheered me up a lot into buying it, but it did not
    mention what it will give & not give in standard edition.

    http://www.virtualizationteam.com/virtualization-vmware/vmware-virtual-server-virtualization-vmware/virtualcenter-for-vm-ware-server-real-value.html

  • shankyrhodes

    Hi,

    we are considering to buy a VMware Virtual Center.
    We have two servers running VMware Standard edition.
    Do you believe it will be worth it? Or do we have to
    upgrade our VMware licenses to Enterprise before upgrading
    virtual center to make it worth it. I had just read the
    following article
    VMware virtual center real value

  • shankyrhodes

    Hi,

    we are considering to buy a VMware Virtual Center.
    We have two servers running VMware Standard edition.
    Do you believe it will be worth it? Or do we have to
    upgrade our VMware licenses to Enterprise before upgrading
    virtual center to make it worth it. I had just read the
    following article
    VMware virtual center real value

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  • roger

    Its worth it if you want 0 down time during maintenance upgrades, firmware updates, and or hardware issues. we couldnt live without HA or Vmotion.

  • http://www.vmwareinfo.com ccostan

    Rich,

    I know you took most of these values from the Plan and Design but I still feel they are too small. Most systems I work on these days are at LEAST 76GB local storage. The current recommendations use about 15GB. I'd comfortably double most of them if SAN connected. Once the client has SAN space, they rarely (if ever) use any local VMFS space.

    Good topic though.. It'll be interesting to see if vSphere recommendations change anything.

    CARLO.

  • http://www.vmwareinfo.com ccostan

    Rich,

    I know you took most of these values from the Plan and Design but I still feel they are too small. Most systems I work on these days are at LEAST 76GB local storage. The current recommendations use about 15GB. I'd comfortably double most of them if SAN connected. Once the client has SAN space, they rarely (if ever) use any local VMFS space.

    Good topic though.. It'll be interesting to see if vSphere recommendations change anything.

    CARLO.

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  • http://www.vpswebserver.com Vps Hosting

    Thanks for sharing this step by step tutorial.. i really appreciate your effort.

  • Bent

    In the recommended scheme you describe that the swap partition should be a primary partition. During the installation, the default however makes it an extended partition. Does this mean I should delete the extended one and create a primary one instead?

  • http://vmetc.com rbrambley

    Brent,

    You should be able to edit the default and change it to primary, but
    if not then yes, remove and re add it.

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