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In our Private Cloud roadshow event we have a session on Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. We touch on VHD performance during the session but always get the question is there any hard performance data available. I came across this whitepaper that delves directly into this topic. Download the Virtual Hard Disk Performance Whitepaper yourself and read, in some depth, about the performance difference between the various types of VHDs as well as different workloads like SQL, media streaming or web server.

One of my favorite sections of the document is the comparison of VHD type performance, i.e. fixed sized vs. dynamically expanding vs. differencing. (see the sample chart of some of the tests below).

Order of Performance

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Bottom-line here's a table showing the order of performance, but to get the more detailed results of the test download and take a look at this interesting whitepaper.

Storage Container

Performance

Pass-through Disk

Fastest performance

Fixed sized VHD

Highest performance of all VHD types

Dynamically expanding or Differencing VHD

Good performance