Recover your corrupt VirtualBox .vdi (Virtual Disk Image)

April 9, 2017

 

Hi guys

I have 3 Windows 10 Professional licenses (Yes, paid licenses). 2 of the licenses are used in two hardware devices & the 3rd one I am using with a VirtualBox VM machine.

My semi server class desktop computer at home has approximately 4.5T storage, consolidated from different disks. My Windows10 VM is frequently factory reset to try out different software (Mostly Oracle software at uncertified environments) & the particular partition on which I had the VM was running out of space & I planned to move the VM & the disks to a different partition with bigger free space.

Scenario: Move “Windows 10” VM from L: drive to M: drive

My nightmare started when the copy process stopped abruptly with Windows popping an error window stating there were read errors while copying disk1.vdi & I attempted again to realize that the disk1.vdi is has bad sectors or clusters.

I hurried to confirm that the VM is still accessible by restarting the VM couple of times & to my greatest pleasure the VM did start, did shutdown properly and I was able to access the Oracle database installation.

Fix:

A quick googling suggested that an attempt to repair the hard disks using “CHKDSK”, the old utility could fix the .vdi corruptions & without wasting more time I jumped in

At an elevated command prompt issued the command

> chkdsk L: /F

My partition is of 1TB & after 15-16 minutes the chkdsk completed with few messages like fixing some cluster information.

I tried to copy the disk1.vdi once again to M: drive, and this time the copy process managed almost 19GB out of 29.1GB and against present me the read error.

Now, I was left with just one more option in front of me & it was to attempt recover the bad sectors, and there were chances that my virtual disk may get corrupt if the damages are more in numbers. knowing my VM is already Activated by Microsoft, I could try to reinstall Windows in a new virtual disk and retain the license as long as I am still using the other VM files as the id of the machine registered with Microsoft.

Please be informed, if you copy ONLY the vdi file, the activation will be nullified and you will be prompted to activate the copy of the Windows as soon as you start the new VM built using the copied VDI file!

So I proceeded to

>chkdsk L: /F /R

Windows suggested that it may take around 6 hrs for the repair process & I woke up next day morning to read multiple status messages about moving the corrupt sectors to new positions & some errors those could not be repaired.

I hurried to copy the disk once again & even though it seemed like forever, finally I was able to copy the disk1.vdi to M: drive!

 

So if you ever come across such a situation, give the above a try. If you are not cursed, most probably you will able to recover the virtual disk.

regards,

rajesh


Virtualize your desktop/laptop computer

January 3, 2016

Hello guys

This is my first post for the year 2016. Actually I have more drafts than posts this time with me and I truly hope that I will able to finish all of them in few weeks time. I’m sure you are interested about Oracle 12c products on Windows platform. Stay tuned, am on it

Coming back to the topic, I have a decent desktop computer that could be called a “half server” with the following configurations

  1. i7 processor 2nd generation
  2. 16GB DDR3 memory
  3. Around 4.5-5 terabyte of storage
  4. windows 10 64Bit Professional

I came across VMWare always 8 years back, liked it, and used it until they started charging for everything. Then Oracle VirtualBox (Earlier JAVA VirtualBox) started giving tough fight and it has become quite famous among developer communities where NOT many were truly able to afford VMWare’s paid software.

VMWare is altogether a different standard made for sophisticated environments, hence we will never compare both the products here. Our intention is to point you towards the advantages of using Virtual Machines that could less clutter your rig, give you better exposure to different technologies and a bit of networking etc

So our product of interest for this post is Oracle VirtualBox and we will see how we can utilize our existing desktops/laptops to run multiple virtual machines at the same time and thus utilize the available hardware to the maximum extends

So prior attempting to virtualize your existing computer, you need to know what kind of hardware you have and whether your computer meets minimum requirements to support virtualization.

So today is 3rd January 2016 & if your computer is 4 years old or less,  99.9% chances that your rig sure supports virtualization. Most of BIOS comes with the virtualization enabled by default.

Yet we should make sure that our computers support virtualization. Read the instructions provided here to find out whether your current processor supports virtualization OR

Just install Oracle VirtualBox and try to create a VM. You will immediately come to realize whether your rig really supports virtualization ;)

Well, that’s the brute force way of doing stuffs, adapt the one that defines you. If you are using Windows 10, I’ve noticed that many default installations enable Hyper-V by default. You need to disable it from add remove windows features console, so that you can create 64Bit VMs using Oracle VirtualBox. This post explains how to enable it, just do the opposite to disable it

Before anything else, you need to identify your processor, it’s capabilities. A nice comparison is available here for i3, i5 & i7 processors and definitely, the author favors i7 processors. Please spend few minutes to read about the differences between these three different processors.

A ripoff from http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk

What the difference between Core i3, i5, i7: Hyper-Threading

A thread in computing terms is a sequence of programmed instructions that the CPU has to process. If a CPU has one core, it can process only one thread at once, so can only do one thing at once (as before, it’s actually more complex than this, but the aim here is to keep it simple and understandable).

Hence, a dual-core CPU can process two threads at once, a quad-core four threads at once. That’s twice or four times the work in the same amount of time.

Hyper-Threading is a clever way to let a single core handle multiple threads.

A Core i3 with Hyper-Threading can process two threads per core which means a total of four threads can run simultaneously. The current Core i5 range doesn’t have Hyper-Threading so can also only process four cores. i7 processors do have it, so can process eight threads at once. Combine that with 8MB of cache and Turbo Boost Technology, and you can see why it’s good to choose a Core i7 over an i5 or i3.

Now, you should know how much physical memory you have. More, the merrier. Starting with Windows 7, computers started shipping with a minimum of 4GB as a standard. So, 4GB is enough for your OS and proposed virtualization? It’s going to be a tight fit. I will suggest an additional 4GB minimum, making the total physical memory 8GB so that you won’t have to sacrifice performance.

Finally the storage. Most of the branded PCs and laptops are coming with 500GB HDD as standard & extending the storage of a laptop is complex than of a desktop computer. For the later, all you need is another HDD which you can plug to one of the available SATA ports and configure. With a laptop, you may need to replace the HDD with a higher capacity one or use an external HDD for your additional storage requirements.

My current Virtualizations are mostly for Oracle technologies. I am a forms and reports developer, doing a certain level of .NET development & manage Oracle EBS R12 instances (“NOT a DBA”). Further I try almost all the database, weblogic versions & currently learning ASMM & RMAN. I have never attempted other areas of Oracle technologies, so my VMs run

  1. Oracle EBS R12 cloned instances
  2. Oracle database(s)
  3. Oracle weblogic server(s) with forms and reports (supported)

My EBS R12 VM has the following configuations

8GB memory out of 16GB physical, 4 processor out of 8 logical processors & almost 850GB of storage out of 4.5 terabyte total storage. Our instance has 400GB database size, 175GB application instance & the VM responds to requests instantaneously once after scheduled jobs are completed after a restart of the application. Usually I find the application responding better after 3 hours of settling down & the performance is assured throughout days and weeks until a restart.

My Weblogic, database VMs have the following configurations

4GB memory out of 16GB physical, 4 processor out of 8 logical processors & almost 250 GB of storage out of 4.5 terabyte total storage. I have my weblogic VM running 11gR2 64bit database as well. I get instant responses from both the Weblogic server and Oracle database 11gR2 from a client system, whenever accessed

Recommendations

Even though you can run multiple VMs at the same time, I would suggest, based on your hardware, limit them. Example

When I run my EBS R12 VM (8GB memory, 4 processors) my HOST computer is left with only 8GB free memory and 4 logical processors. If I start a Windows XP VM (2GB memory, 2 processors) to check the application performance, I feel my rig start slowing down and couple of times my computer shutdown with a high thermal point.

So make sure that you do tweaking to your VMs in order to make sure that your HOST doesn’t breakdown due to overload.

I always make sure that my HOST always has half of the hardware resources reserved for it, ie, 8GB memory, 4 processors regardless how many VMs I run at the same time! This is by using the VirtualBox console to alter the parameters of VMs before they are started

1

All the settings for the VMs could be altered using the settings, like increasing or decreasing the memory, processors, adding and removing storage devices etc.

2

Below you watch how fast my VM running EBS r12 responds to requests from another VM running Windows XP

Advantages of using Virtualization

The most important advantage for me is: I’ve a less cluttered HOST, said, I am NOT installing all the technologies to one OS, breaking it with conflicting versions of services and libraries and processing load.

Other advantages

  1. I can backup (copy) my entire “machine” and restore it during a total mess up or loss of data, rather than rebuilding the entire computer
  2. I get a sand-boxed environment & without fearing my attempts will break my main OS, continue the experiments
  3. I can make a VM, for example, running Oracle Enterprise Linux, copy and keep the OS installed disk somewhere and copy it to new VMs whenever required! Say, you install the OS only once and whenever you need to create a new VM with same OS, just duplicate the disk that has the OS! (Make sure you make a backup of the OS disk prior installing and configuring additional software into it)

Finally my suggestions for you, in case if you are considering to build your 1st VM using Oracle VirtualBox

  1. Majority of the Oracle geeks prefer Linux against Windows for database, weblogic deployments. So if you are NOT familiar with Linux, I suggest you start learning, regardless whether you FEEL very comfortable with it or NOT. You may be joining a firm that has reservations towards Windows OS running Oracle products, especially Oracle DBAs who have valid points like block corruptions, difficulties to recover from a crash are complex in the case of Windows OS.
  2. Install OS in a separate disk. 40GB dynamic size should be more than enough for any recent Linux distros. Avoid Linux 7 if you are truly new to Linux. Oracle Linux 6.7 should be your friend.
  3. Install 64Bit OS, so that you can take the advantage of your 64Bit processor and physical memory
  4. Install Oracle supported Linux distros (RHEL, OEL & certain versions of Debian. CentOS is not at all supported)
  5. Install the complete desktop, you are hardly going to complete the installations on pure CLI mode.
  6. Add SCSI interface to your VM and for Oracle database etc, use SCSI disks. I had a huge argument with VirtualBox guys about the performance difference between SATA VDI disks and SCSI VDI disks. I found the SCSI VDI disks performing better, however I was dismissed saying as far both the types are created on the same HDD, it must be more psychological :O
  7. Use 1TB 7200 RPM disks in the place of 2TB 5400 RPM disks. Later ones are best for data storage, when the previous ones give you better I/O. Create fixed size VDI for databases & applications, that means you will NOT able to increase the size of the disk once after created, however, it gives you faster I/O and better performance.
  8. Update your OS. As soon as the VM is built, update your OS prior installing database, weblogic etc. RHEL will NOT allow you to update the packages without subscription, hence Oracle Enterprise Linux should be your best choice of Linux distro. Please note, you shouldn’t use Oracle Linux in a production environment without acquiring sufficient licenses. Whatever I suggest here are limited for study/evaluation purposes and I don’t encourage any kind of illegal usage of software!
  9. Use Oracle’s pre-install packages to install database, EBS etc prerequisites rather than trying to download individual components from different download sites.
  10. Use shared folders between HOST and Guest (VM) so that you don’t have to sacrifice storage. Not just that, when you want to keep the backup of some files from the VM, the shared folders will make it as easy as possible
  11. Use bridged network, with Promiscuous Mode “Allow All” so that you can communicate with the VM from network
  12. 3
  13. Disable IPV6, firewall, SELinux on your Linux VM
  14. If you creating a Windows VM, I’m sure you better know how to configure your guest so that you can access it from a network.

Finally recommendations for a DESKTOP computer to try virtualization

  1. i7 processor + good quality heat sink. Your HOST and VMs are going to create loads of heat!
  2. 16GB Memory (DDR4 is the new standard, do not ignore it)
  3. 1×2 TB HDD

Few years back, such a configuration looked impossible for me, well, I saved bit by bit and made my dream computer. I’m sure you can also do it :) & trust me, a good computer opens a new world for you.

All the best and wish you all a very successful year ahead!

for Windows7bugs

rajesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


VirtualBox | SATA vs SCSI

July 14, 2015

Recently I tried to build a cloned instance of our production instance over VirtualBox for some emergency issues faced by our inventory module. As this instance was supposed to be only accessed by me, I opted to use my desktop machine for the same. Throughout the last many years I built my own machines, choosing the best available hardware at the time of building them. My current desktop configuration is like following

i7 processor, 16GB memory, 2x1TB 7200 RPM HDD, 2x2TB 5200 RPM HDD, 1x500GB HDD for the OS (Windows 8.1 64Bit)

and throughout the years I built dozens of Virtual Machines using Oracle VirtualBox, mainly for testing un-certified Oracle & other products in a sand-boxed environment, against the crippled VMplayer, VirtualBox’s unrestricted interface supported almost everything I needed from a virtual environment.

So I built my R12 instance, that is around 600GB roughly in size with almost 4.5-5 years of business data, media etc. The following resources were dedicated for the fresh VM

  • 4 processors
  • 10GB memory
  • 40GB fixed size SATA VDI for the Operating System (I used both OEL 5 & OEL 7 64bit)
  • 1.2TB fixed size SATA VDI for the instance files
  • A dedicated D-Link 10/100MB NIC

Once the instance came online, I removed, cancelled all the scheduled concurrent programs, changed the database level parameters like job_queue_processes etc, however the lag experienced throughout the access attempts remained the same. Sometimes the HTML pages took 5-6 minutes to open, forms based modules took 8-10 minutes to open and timeouts were happening, frustrating me to the most possible levels

That is when I decided to give VMPlayer a try, I converted the existing VDI for the OS as vmdk and created a fresh 850 fixed size vmdk for the instance files and attached the same as SCSI to the VM. Did the complete clone process and to my utter surprise, the login page loaded within a minutes once after the instance was started!

This lead me to do various attempts with the fresh instance, I was able to shutdown the instance much faster, forms were opening faster, though LOVs having more than thousands of items were taking more time than anticipated

Once again, I created another fresh VM with VirtualBox and attached the disks created for VMplayer with it and repeated the tests. Well, I got the same performances from the new VM and somehow I came to a conclusion that, both VirtualBox and VMPlayer provide better I/O for SCSI interfaces compared to plain SATA emulators, ironically, the disks were created over SATA drives!

This difference you may not experience with VMs those are not hosting resource hungry applications like Oracle E-Business Suite. So, if you are attempting what I had described above and notice the differences, please update me with comments section.

 

regards,

 

rajesh

 

 


VirtualBox | CentOS/Oracle 7.x Linux| Memory cannot be read/write error

July 7, 2015

Hi guys

Many times I pointed out the importance of testing technical previews, latest releases of other OS using VirtualBox as the early releases are prone to have frustrating bugs, which are many time specific to a particular hardware or distro. I was playing around with Oracle linux 7, which is a forked version of Red Hat Linux 7, named Unbrekable Linux by Oracle. Relatively I hardly had many issues with guest OS in recent times while tested over VirtualBox  and with OEL 7 guest, all of a sudden I started getting memory read errors like the one you can find with below image,

7-vb-memory error

once after the guest addons were installed. Although the change log of VirtualBox for 4.3.28 states the 3D bugs fix,  3D acceleration is the main culprit for the guest crashing once after a login attempt.

VirtualBox change log: https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Changelog

So, all you need to do is to disable the 3D acceleration for the guest using the settings panel. Well, unless you are going to use your VM for some “gaming” ;) I think this temporary fix should get you online with your CentOS/OEL 7.1 VM box!

Additional reading: https://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/13332

regards,

 


Windows 8.1 & Oracle VirtualBox

October 21, 2013

 

If you have upgraded to Windows 8.1, there is a high possibility that your VM(s) will start posting an error stating network adaptor missing. Do not panic, uninstall Oracle VirtualBox and re-install.

This should resolve the adaptor missing conflict.

regards,

for Windows7bugs

admin