VMWare causes computer to freeze, needing hard reset

VMWare might crash the host, and Virtual Box also has issues; but I would hate to dual boot with Windows.

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By. Jacob

Edited: 2021-11-21 16:49

I already wrote about a problem preventing users from easily updating VMWare when secure boot is enabled — and that problem was bad enough alone — but, now I discovered another problem with VMWare that causes deadly freezing of the host OS.

This happens sometimes when shutting down a Windows system that has become unresponsive; typically what will happen is that the guest OS will suffer high CPU use, become extremely laggy, and when I try to shut down it will just freeze my entire host system.

Note. The problem also seem to have been discussed here: Ubuntu sometimes freezes when shutting down Windows VM

The symptoms are that the screen will freeze while I am still able to move the mouse around, my fan starts running amok, and the host OS appears to freeze as well. The only way to get out of this state is by doing a hard reset.

I have no solution for this problem, other than dual booting.

VMWare vs Virtual Box vs KVM

Of course I prefer to use open source when possible, but VMWare is free, which comes close enough, and performance has been so good that I was even able to play Supreme Ruler 2020 — SR2020 also works in Wine, but I have not currently configured it properly on my system.

VMWare has generally performed better than virtual box when it comes to running Windows 10. In Virtual Box I could not even get decent hardware acceleration, and that is something that appears to work out-of-the-box with VMWare. In Virtual Box I would have to disable transparency effects on the desktop, and when Hardware acceleration was enabled, it would still cause weird stuff to happen, like random characters floating around the screen in the UI of Supreme Ruler.

It seems both solutions had problems with crackling and lagging sound; VMWare less so than Virtual Box, but still significantly, and it seems there is no real solution to that issue. It only happens occasionally, and I have been able to play SR2020 for hours in VMWare without any sound issues.

Yet, VMWare would randomly suffer from what appears to be I/O issues, which in turn results in high CPU, and sometimes deadly freezing of the host system.

Another option is to configure KVM, which would provide direct access to Hardware, and native performance. Personally I have not been able to get it to work on my system; it also looks like, if you Google around, that you might need specific Hardware for it to work, and in the end I just decided that dual booting is easier if we must have direct hardware access.

Note. If you do decide to dual boot, remember that it is easier to first install Windows, and then install Linux afterwards.

Back to Dual Booting

As much as I hate to go back to dual booting, there is just no way around the fact that it is the best solution, by far. Overall the system is just going to run much more stable with a Windows HOST. I know that, but I hate the fact that Windows is non-free software, and that it is closed source.

Nevertheless, I am now considering to make Windows my main OS again — or at least have it as a 100G dual boot — because of better support for drivers and native Linux support through the subsystem.

Bloatware in Windows

Of course, the thing I really dislike is that Windows has so much bloat and crap running in the background that I just have no idea what is.

For several years I have only used Windows sporadically for specific things — recently, mainly e-mail and Microsoft Exchange, which is poorly supported in Linux — so it would be a bit drastic to dedicate so much hard disk space for a dual boot Windows setup. With Virtual Box and VMWare I can just share a directory with the guest OS.

When I open up Task Manager in a virtual machine, there will be all kinds of crap taking CPU in the background. I highly doubt all those services are really necessary. Ideally, when my system is idle, I will want it to be close to 0% CPU. Windows seem to constantly fluctuate between 1%, 20%, sometimes even up to 100%, and I just got no idea what the system is doing.

What is happening? Windows- Defender and Update

Part of the reason is probably Windows Defender and Windows Update; those tend to run occasionally, but if you have an SSD hard disk, which most modern systems does these days, then it tends to quickly settle down again.

There are also other things running, some are just plain odd, and I have no idea why they take so much CPU. I had to Google several of these listed below:

  1. Antimalware Service Executable
  2. Microsoft Compatibility Telemetry
  3. Wsapxx
  4. System Interrupts
  5. Service Host: Windows Update
  6. Service Host: Windows Management Instrumentation
  7. Service Host: State Repository Service
  8. Service Host: Diagnostic Policy Service

Of course some are the usual suspects, like Windows Update or Antimalware, which tend to settle down when they are done; but, by the way, Antimalware Service Executable appears to run even when Windows Defender is disabled, which opens the next section in this article.

How do I disable the bloatware?

It is very difficult to permanently turn off services and programs you do not want on your system. I have no such problem in Linux, but then again, Linux has no need for Antivirus software.

I really prefer my system to only run the minimum software needed for me to use the system. I am not a bumbling buffoon who has no idea what he is doing — even back when I was a heavy Windows user, I rarely used Antivirus software, because I felt it just made my computer slower, and provided no real benefit to me. Please note, I do not recommend doing that, but there can be a time and place where you just want to get on with your life without having a babysitter looking after you all the time.

Then again, disabling services might not be the best idea anymore. I just feel like Windows has become to complex for me to understand the different components. Microsoft keeps introducing new services that I have no idea what is used for, or what impact it will have if I disable them.

Mechanical Hard Disks

Back when I used a mechanical hard disk with, I think, Windows 7, it was of course extremely slow because of some of these services occasionally running amok in the background.

You would have to manually disable prefetch, SuperFetch, Windows Search Indexing, Windows Update, and probably other things. But, my point is, Microsoft do not always know what is best for a given system — I remember those things used to cause a lot of lag on my mechanical hard disk, which in turn slowed down other programs relying on disk access.

Of course, things must have changed, because when I recently installed Windows 10 on a friends old mechanical hard disk, it appeared that there was no such issues anymore.

Old Windows is greatly missed

Fun fact, I remember using Windows 98 and XP, and the primary thing I would worry about was CPU use. Now I also worry about RAM and Hard Disk use — why is that? Why does Windows need so much damn disk I/O all the time? Why can it not just chill a bit? It feels like it has developed a severe case of ADAD, and it just refuses to chill. It makes me uncomfortable to open Task Manager and witness all the activity going on.

My best guess is that it must be pre-fetching things from the disk, swapping, analyzing files, and updating software in the background. But, again, the point is I just do not know for sure, because there is no explanation about what it is doing and why it is necessary.

Certain aspects of traditional Windows are greatly missed, knowing what the system was doing at any given time was one of them. If you did not explicitly launch a program, the system was just idling and not doing much — just the way I like it.

Tell us what you think:

  1. Tutorial showing how to configure a VirtualBox Guest VM with HOST-only and NAT adapter, while using the WWW folder from the HOST OS.
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