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Why does a full clone eliminate vmdk files that I could not get rid of in the original?

I created a Windows 8 Pro VM in Workstation 17 a long while back. The virtual disk is 50GB growable, multiple small files. I have a current need to use it want to clean it up and reduce the host disk space it occupies.

I uninstalled unneeded apps, ran Disk Cleanup including removing system updates, defragged it in Windows, and ran sdelete to zero all unused space. With it powered off, I used VM>Manage>Clean up disks. For good measure, I also ran Compact in settings.

I noticed that there are still a bunch of small vmdk files in the folder. 

Original W8P VM.png

So, I did a full Clone in Manage, to another folder. The resulting folder is 5GB smaller (21.5GB to 16.1GB) and has a single vmdk file. Nice! But unexpected.

clone of VM.png

I remain curious why doing all the usual stuff described in articles and posts about reducing disk space used, none of that had the impact of cloning the VM.

I would appreciate any insights or explanations.



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In your original VM, you have files that represent 2 virtual disks:

Windows 8.1 Pro x64-cl2.vmdk is a "monolithic" virtual disk. All of the data in the virtual disk is contained in 1 file.

Windows 8.1 Pro x64 D drive-cl2..vmdk is another virtual disk, but this one is "sliced". The virtual disk consists of 4GB "slices" (the files with -s001 through -s008 in their names. The number of which depends on the max configured size of the virtual disk. The files are small until something writes into the corresponding 4GB region of the virtual disk. 

If you did not have the "D drive" virtual disk configured in your virtual machine as another hard drive at the time of the clone, it will not be copied into a clone of the virtual machine. 

Note that if you created a second virtual disk at some point in the past for this VM, and then deleted it from the VM, just removes the virtual disk from the VM's knowledge. It does NOT delete the files that make up the virtual disk. You have to go back and delete those if you no longer want them. 


- Paul (Technogeezer)
Editor of the Unofficial Fusion Companion Guides
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