Just a quick note today, more of a reference than anything else.

I had the requirement recently to convert a load of VMs that had thin VMDKs to thick provisioned, however the client was not licensed for live Storage vMotion.

In an effort to minimise downtime I decided the best thing to do was use the “Inflate” option in the datastore for that VMDK - this requires the VM to be powered off.

Inflate VMDK

However, Inflate - at least when i’ve tested it is very slow in comparison to Storage vMotion, to keep downtime to a minimum (some inflations were in the order of 200GB+) I wanted to minimise the data that the Inflate process had to fill out on the end of the drive.

The solution is to use sdelete in OS to fill the target disks with data in order to force the VMDK to full size.

However, there is an interesting caveat:

sdelete.exe -z

Zeros free space in OS, does not affect thin VMDK size when when drive is filled due to thin disk compression/dedupe algorithms.

sdelete.exe -c

Fills with random bits, expands disk to full size.

A little nugget there, the purpose of running sdelete is to fill all the space on the drive, however, when using non-random or zeroed bits, vmware’s thin disk technology dedupes the zeroed writes resulting in the wrong outcome (a disk that is NOT full size). Using the sdelete.exe -c trigger fills the disk with random bits and thus forces the VMDK to its full size.

The result? Inflate ran across a 5GB increase in 30 seconds rather than 7 minutes.

An extension of this is, if you want to do the above but don’t want to fill the whole drive (say a SQL server log drive) you can use a dd port for Windows, this emulates Linux’s /dev/random and will let you specify bytesize and count, letting you set the size of random data to write to the drive.

The below will write a 3GB file filled with random bits to the D:\ drive then delete the file created:

dd.exe if=/dev/random of=D:\file.img bs=1M count=3000 --progress & del D:\file.img

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