The subject of partition alignment comes up in the communities on a fairly regular basis. VMware's "Recommendations for Aligning VMFS Partitions" performance study is the classic reference for this topic, but it is also stated in this document that "Aligning the boot disk in the virtual machine is neither recommended nor required. Align only the data disks in the virtual machine." The logic here historically was around the idea that OS partitions would not have high IO demands and the hassle of creating an aligned OS volume in Windows XP or 2003 was a frustrating process involving usually GParted or other 3rd party utilities. With Windows 7 and Windows 2008, this is no longer an issue, as the partitions are all aligned by default. For those still running older versions of Windows, the easiest solution for aligning the OS volumes is to use the newly released public BETA of VMware Converter 5.0. The latest release of VMware Converter offers optimized disk and partition alignment and cluster size change as options.
To test these new features, I started with a plain vanilla Windows XP install in VMware Workstation. In the screenshot below, notice that the value for "Partition Starting Offset" is 32,256. This is clearly a volume that is not aligned.
After a quick V2V using VMware Converter 5.0, notice that the value for "Partition Starting Offset" is now 1,048,576. This is a volume that is aligned on a 1 MB boundary.
In comparison to the other methods I have seen for accomplishing this task, it just doesn't get much easier than this!
Thanks for reading,