Windows Server 2012 New Feature: Store Hyper-V VHDs in a SMB 3.0 Share

When building high-performance Hyper-V host servers for a production environment, we often buy high-end servers with lots or memory and fast SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) or SSD (Solid State) drives.  These drives are fast but usually expensive, especially after adding in RAID redundancies.
What if your VMs (virtual machines, or guests running on your Hyper-V host) do not need these fast expensive drives?  This is often the case with file servers or servers storing archive data.  In the past you could build a SAN with inexpensive SATA or Nearline SAS (simply SATA drives that speak the SCSI language) drives.  The problem is that SANs are inherently expensive and require a lot of expertise and planning to deploy and manage.
With Windows Server 2012 we have a new type of SMB sharing technology called SMB 3.0.  SMB 3.0 gives us  several features such as data deduplication, data transfer performance increases, and most importantly the ability to store virtual hard disks (VHD or VHDX files) for a Hyper-V host on the same network.
Before SMB 3.0, an expensive SAN (storage area network) solution was needed to accomplish this.  This can mean savings to your datacenter in a big way.
Here is what is needed:

  • Hyper-V Host:  Windows Server 2012 with the File Services role installed
  • SMB 3.0 File Server:  Windows Server 2012 with the Hyper-V role installed

Steps in this lab:

  1. Enable delegation on the computer account of the Hyper-V server.
  2. Grant permissions to the SMB Share.
  3. Create a new virtual machine from a VHD running on an SMB file share (the share happens to be clustered).

Step 1: Enable delegation on the computer account of the Hyper-V server.

  1. Log on to the file server as a domain administrator.  This is the server where the VHD files will be stored for the front-end Hyper-V host.
  2. From the Taskbar open Server Manager, click Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  3. Create a new security group named “Hyper-V Servers”.  Add your Hyper-V computer accounts to this new group.
  4. Navigate to\Computers (replacing with your own Active Directory domain name), and then select your Hyper-V host server.
  5. On the Action menu, click Properties.
  6. Click the Delegation tab.
  7. Click Trust this computer for delegation to any service (Kerberos only).
  8. Click the Member of tab, and then click Add.
  9. Type Hyper-V-Servers, and then click OK.


Step 2:  Grant permissions to the SMB Share.

  1. On the file server, open Server Manager, then select File and Storage Services.
  2. Select Shares then create a new file share using the wizard.
  3. For Hyper-V VHD storage, select SMB Share-Applications, then click on the Next button.
  4. Select the path which to create the share in the Type a custom path field, then click on the Create button.
  5. Type a name for the new SMB 3.0 share (and a brief description if desired).
  6. On the Permission screen make sure the Contoso\Hyper-V-Servers group has full control, which is a requirement for Hyper-V over SMB.  When done click the Next button.
  7. On the confirmation screen click Create if everything looks correct.


Step 3:  Create a new virtual machine from a VHD running on an SMB file share

(the share happens to be clustered).

  1. On the Hyper-V host server launch the Hyper-V Manager.
  2. In the Hyper-V console, click New, and then click Virtual Machine.
  3. Complete the New Virtual Machine Wizard like you normally would selecting a virtual machine name, network, and memory.
  4. When creating a virtual hard drive (VHD), use the UNC path to the new SMB 3.0 share.  
    Example:  \\FileServerName\SMBShareName\c-drive.vhdx


For more information on creating a SMB 3.0 share and using it with a Hyper-V VM see this Technet Article from Microsoft.

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1 ping

    • Jon on January 13, 2014 at 11:17 pm
    • Reply

    Just curious

    If your DC’s are hosted on the SMB 3 store, how do you handle a shutdown and startup of your environment? Hyper-V can’t talk to SMB3 share as Fileserver can’t validate HV server’s account as there is no domain. DC’s can’t startup because Hyper-V can’t talk to their storage?

    • JJohnson on March 31, 2014 at 12:03 pm
    • Reply

    Is it possible to perform this same type of scenario; just without the Domain? I have a test setup where I’m trying to user a Server 2012 system to store the VHD files for another system that will be running the Hyper-V host. Neither system is joined to a domain, but are running stand-alone (in WORKGROUP).

    How can I configure the SMB share to allow access since they do not have shared credentials?

  1. […] about hosting Hyper-V VMs on an SMB 3.0 share? Here’s a cool walkthrough on setting up a lab to test this. My personal test cluster is running this […]

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