Misbehaving virtual machines

If your virtual machines consistently hang or your keyboard and mouse behaves irratically, you can try one or more of the following remedies:

  1. First of all, if the virtual machines are hanging, make sure you've got enough available memory and CPU for the combined requirements of the currently running virtual machines as well as the host. If there aren't enough system resources available, then turn off one or more virtual machines.

  2. If the virtual machines are running on a Dell notebook computer with SpeedStep power management, go to the Dell Web site and install the latest version of the SpeedStep utility (http://support.dell.com/). If this doesn't work, try removing SpeedStep by using Add or Remove Programs or disabling SpeedStep in your BIOS. If you don't want to remove or disable SpeedStep, you can use the "Always on" Power management profile on the notebook computer.

  3. If you haven't updated your Virtual Machine Additions, but you've upgraded Virtual Server from a pre-release version, or if you created the virtual machine in Virtual PC, install the release version of Virtual Machine Additions. For instructions, see the Virtual Server 2005 Administrator's Guide.

  4. If you are running an anti-virus program, add *.vhd, *.vsv and *.vud files to your exception list. Be aware that the list may be reset when you upgrade your anti-virus program.

  5. Log on as a different user to see if the problem goes away. If it does, your Windows user profile may be corrupted, which can cause the system to lock up when you right-click an item in Windows Explorer. See this KB article information about this issue: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;555021&Product=winxp 

  6. If you're using Virtual PC 2004 with a European keyboard, the keyboard may lock up when you type Alt+G+R to create a backslash. To fix this problem, install Virtual PC 2004 SP1, which you can download for free from: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=b07c9ef0-265a-4237-ae3b-25bc8937d40f&displaylang=en.

  7. On Virtual PC 2004, you will probably experience performance issues with virtual machines running Windows XP with Service Pack 2. This is because XP SP2 was finished after Virtual PC 2004 was released. To fix the problem, install Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1. You can download it from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=b07c9ef0-265a-4237-ae3b-25bc8937d40f&displaylang=en.

  8. Verify that your hardware acceleration setting is set to full (right-click your desktop, click Properties, click the Settings tab, click Advanced, click the Troubleshoot tab.)

Comments (8)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Megan Davis over at Microsoft Weblogs has a post that details some troubleshooting tips if your virutal machines consistently hang or your keyboard and mouse behave irratically. I havent had problems like that, and havent had any real problems with…

  2. thomas woelfer says:


    well, thanks – but what if none of this helps? (if i type a backslash, the vm will no longer accept any keyboard input. i have to do a click into a window of the host os – this will make keyboard support come back… which is quite annoying to say the least.)

    any suggestions?


    thomas woelfer

  3. Megan Davis says:

    Thomas, I’m taking a long weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday, but when I get back, I’ll check with the product team about your backslash issue.


  4. Chad says:

    I’m trying to determine if it is possible for the VMs on a server to dynamically share the RAM as opposed to having fixed RAM allocations. What I’m looking for is a similar weighting/min/max setting to the CPU configuration. Seems like this is not possible but just trying to confirm…

  5. Megan (the author) says:

    Chad, unfortunately there is no setting that allows you to dynamically share RAM among virtual machines. It’s an interesting idea, though. What would be the benefit to you of having this capability?

  6. Megan (the author) says:

    Thomas, I just met with the Virtual PC product team and found out the answer to your problem. Apparently when using Virtual PC 2004 on some European keyboards, when you type Alt-G-R to create a backslash, the keyboard locks up. To fix the problem, you
    need to install Virtual PC 2004 SP1. You can download it from:

  7. T. Therapist says:

    I am having problems with VPC when installing XP SP2, random errors occur during the installation procedure.

    Trying to upgrade to SP2 the extraction process would usually fail saying that a file was corrupt. Just copying the file accross would sometimes leave it in a corrupt state.

    Attempting to install SP2 from scratch (slipstreamed my install CD specially) it has blue screened, claimed that many drivers weren’t certified and crashed after rebooting, never to work again; in each of three attempts.

    The host PC seems perfectly stable in comparison and has had diagnostic tools run to verify the hardware recently. It is a little under spec., being a 2x350MHz PII with 512MB, but reasonably useable in VPC when no errors occur.

    Anyone seen anything similar or got any ideas? I have still got to try something like Knoppix (Linux) or win 2k or 2k3 to see if this is a general issue, but doubt I will see any improvement.

  8. Megan (the author) says:

    T.Therapist, have you installed Virtual PC 2004 SP1?

    It should help. Please let us know.

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