KVM disk performance: raw vs qcow2 format

Some time ago I compared disk drivers performance in KVM. Today I compared different storage formats – raw and qcow2. Let’s have a look:

Test procedure: Create an empty 10 GB image, attach to VM using VirtIO driver, boot F20 Alpha Live x86_64, measure the time of installation. Repeat installation once again, this time reusing the existing image (instead of creating a new one). Do this for both formats.

Test results:

raw 1st pass          2:36
raw 2nd pass          2:38
qcow2 1st pass        2:36
qcow2 2nd pass        2:44

As you can see, the results are very much the same. It seems it doesn’t matter much which format you use.

But, qcow2 format has some nice additional features, like copy-on-write cloning. If I need to test something very quickly in my existing VM and then revert the changes back, this is the easiest way:

$ cd /var/lib/libvirt/images
$ mv f19.qcow2 f19.qcow2_orig
$ qemu-img create -f qcow2 -b f19.qcow2_orig f19.qcow2
Formatting 'f19.qcow2', fmt=qcow2 size=10737418240 backing_file='f19.qcow2_orig' encryption=off cluster_size=65536 lazy_refcounts=off
$ # Run the VM now and do your tasks
$ mv f19.qcow2_orig f19.qcow2

Enjoy.

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KVM disk performance: raw vs qcow2 format