Automatically Reclaim Disk Space – a new feature in Parallels Desktop 16

This post is part of a series about new features in Parallels Desktop 16

Parallels Desktop is like having a Windows PC inside your Mac. In some ways, it’s better – after all, can you drag & drop a file from your Mac to a PC? Nope! In other ways, it’s just different, and the virtual hard drive component of a Parallels Desktop virtual machine (VM) is one of those differences. In this blog post, I will outline some of the differentiators between a hard drive and a virtual hard drive, and explain how the new feature, “Automatically Reclaim Disk Space”, assists in reducing wasted space on your Mac hard drive or SSD.

On a Mac, the “Macintosh HD” is the main storage. On a Parallels Desktop VM, the main storage is a file on your Mac where Windows, Windows apps, and your Windows documents (in some cases) are stored. Table 1 lists some of the characteristics of these two kinds of storage. 

  Mac  Windows VM 
Name  “Macintosh HD” (default)  Local Disk (C:) (in Windows)  (VM name)-0.hdd (on Mac) 
File type  Volume  .hdd file in the macOS 
Stores  – macOS  
– Mac applications  
– your documents  
– Windows  
– Windows applications  
– your Windows documents (in some cases)  
Size Characteristics  Fixed  – Maximum size set at creation  
– Maximum size can be increased or decreased  
– Actual size increases or decreases, as needed  

The actual amount of space that the virtual hard drive occupies on your Mac main storage grows as you install Windows apps and Windows documents, and in many cases, shrinks as you delete apps or documents. The notable exception to this is a Windows Update. 

Windows Updates often require extra space for the download and for temporary files needed during the update, so the actual space needed by the virtual hard drive will often grow during the update process. While Windows removes the download and the temporary files at the conclusion of the update, the virtual hard drive doesn’t usually shrink after these are removed. This can lead to a situation in which there is unused space inside the virtual hard drive. Over time, with subsequent Windows Updates, this unused space can grow to many gigabytes. Figure 1 shows the result of one Windows 10 VM in Parallels Desktop 15.

Figure 1_Parallels Desktop 15 Reclaim Button

Now, the Parallels Desktop 15 user in the situation shown in Figure 1, could recover 23.52GB of empty space in the VM if they remember to open the configuration dialog and click on the “Reclaim” button. However, many people forget to do this. I like to think that I am an experienced Parallels Desktop user, but I often forgot to do this.

So, in Parallels Desktop 16, we added an option to do this automatically, as shown in Figure 2. After shutting down this VM, there will be approximately 24GB more space on the Mac main storage.

Figure 2_Parallels Desktop 16. Reclaim at Shutdown option

All that said, there is no free lunch. Reclaiming space takes some time, with the two most important variables being the overall size of the VM and the amount of space to be reclaimed. For the VM in Figures 1 and 2, this reclamation took about 17 minutes on my MacBook Pro. So, if you are the type of person who wants to shut down the VM, close the lid on your laptop, and run to your next meeting, you may not want to use this new option on a busy day filled with many meetings. On the other hand, if you are using a stationary iMac or a Mac Pro, then this option will help you avoid filling up your drive so quickly.

I hope this gives you a useful overview of this new feature in Parallels Desktop 16. Let us know in the comments how this feature is working for you. 

Feel free to test Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac for 14 days for free

The post Automatically Reclaim Disk Space – a new feature in Parallels Desktop 16 appeared first on Parallels Blog.

Dell and VMware revenues boosted by remote working

Bobby Hellard

28 Aug, 2020

Dell Technologies beat profit estimates with strong second-quarter earnings boosted by demand for its notebooks and software products for remote and online learning. 

The firm posted second-quarter revenues of $22.7 billion (£17 billion) and operating income of $1.1 billion (£827 billion), a 119% increase year-on-year. 

While the impact of the coronavirus, and the resulting lockdown, hurt other parts of its business, the rapid shift to the cloud spurred demand for hardware and software to enable remote working.

Orders from the education sector jumped 24% in the second quarter period ending 31 July, according to Dell, while government orders also increased by 16%.

“In Q2, we saw strength in the government sector and in education as parents, teachers and school districts prepare for a new frontier in virtual learning,” said Jeff Clarke, chief operating officer at Dell. 

Revenue in the firms biggest segments was also boosted by consumer sales of notebooks and gaming systems hitting double digits. Data centre sales, were down, however, dropping 4.8% to $8.21 billion (£6.18 billion), which Dell said was due to companies redirecting their spending towards remote working.  

Dell’s software unit, VMware, also benefited from the shift to cloud, posting a 9.7% revenue rise at $2.91 billion (£2.18 billion). 

“In light of these uncertain times, we delivered solid execution and financial performance in Q2 FY21,” said Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEO.

“With our Any Cloud, Any Application, Any Device strategy, we are helping customers solve their hardest technology challenges and meet and exceed their business objectives.”

Dell’s stake in VMware is worth almost $50 billion (around £40 billion), but the company is reportedly exploring a potential spinoff of its equity ownership of the software giant. Any potential deal is likely not to occur before September next year, but Dell has confirmed the plans by submitting a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Ex-Cisco engineer charged with wiping WebEx Teams accounts

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

27 Aug, 2020

A former Cisco employee has pleaded guilty to damaging Cisco’s internal network in an incident during 2018, leading to the deletion of 16,000 Webex Teams accounts belonging to company employees.

Sudhish Kasaba Ramesh was charged with intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorisation and recklessly causing damage after he accessed Cisco’s cloud infrastructure and deleted 456 virtual machines (VMs).

Several months after resigning from the company in April 2018, he concsiously deployed a piece of code from his Google Cloud Project that destroyed these VMs in Cisco’s cloud infrastructure, hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS)

These VMs hosted Cisco’ Webex Teams application, which meant that more than 16,000 employees lost access to video conferencing, video messaging, file sharing and other collaboration tools, as their accounts were wiped.

This shutdown lasted two weeks and caused Cisco to spend around $1.4 million in time to restore the damage, as well as more than $1 million in refunds to consumers. No customer data was compromised as a result of these actions, according to the US Attorney’s Office fo the Northern District of California.

“Cisco addressed the issue in September 2018 as quickly as possible, ensured no customer information was lost or compromised, and implemented additional safeguards,” a Cisco spokesperson told IT Pro

“We brought this issue directly to law enforcement and appreciate their partnership in bringing this person to justice. We are confident processes are in place to prevent a recurrence.”

Ramesh was charged on 13 July and pled guilty to the single count, admitting that he acted recklessly in deploying the code, and consciously disregarded the substantial risk of his actions harming Cisco. His hearing is scheduled for 9 December 2020. 

The maximum penalty for committing such an offence is five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, although Ramesh’s guilty plea is likely to mean the final sentence is much softer than this.

Remote working shift could lead to “ghost towns”, experts warn

Bobby Hellard

27 Aug, 2020

The UK government must do more to get workers back in the office, business leaders have said, as city centres are at risk of becoming “ghost towns”. 

The mass adoption of remote working is having an inadvertent effect on local businesses, robbing them of passing trade, according to Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The warning comes as recent figures suggest that many of the UK’s major employers have no plans to return staff to offices on a full-time basis in the near future. This is in addition to companies announcing plans to introduce permanent remote working strategies.

Fairbairn, however, has said that getting staff back into the office and the workplace is as important as pupils returning to schools. 

“The UK’s offices are vital drivers of our economy,” Fairbairn wrote in the Daily Mail. “They support thousands of local firms, from dry cleaners to sandwich bars. They help train and develop young people. And they foster better work and productivity for many kinds of business.

“The costs of office closure are becoming clearer by the day. Some of our busiest city centres resemble ghost towns, missing the usual bustle of passing trade. This comes at a high price for local businesses, jobs and communities.”

Fairbairn’s concerns are backed by a recent BBC poll, which questioned 50 employers, ranging from banks to retailers, to get an idea of when they expect staff back in the office. Around 24 firms said they had no plans in place for a return, and one of the main reasons cited by the companies is that they couldn’t see a way to accommodate large workforces under social distancing measures.

A number of tech firms have made remote work an indefinite option for staff, such as Twitter and Fujitsu, while companies like Facebook and Microsoft have extended flexible and remote working strategies into 2021.

While remote working has kept many companies going through the pandemic and has also highlighted a number of work-life balance benefits, it could also have a dramatic effect on other parts of the economy.

“The risk is that people don’t return to offices and tourism doesn’t come back to the city centres that need it, like Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and London,” said Kyle Monk, the British Retail Consortium’s director of insight. 

“People are working from home now and they might not return before Christmas. Some people might not return until halfway through 2021. When they do return, it might be on a lesser schedule, so rebalancing is going to have to happen on the property side and it’s where that cost falls. There’s a sort of looming problem there, which there isn’t an immediate solution to.”

Salesforce to cut 1,000 jobs despite record earnings

Bobby Hellard

27 Aug, 2020

Salesforce is cutting around 1,000 jobs despite the company’s shares reaching all-time record high following a strong second-quarter earnings report. 

Employees affected by the cuts will be given 60 days to find a new role within the company, according to CNBC sources, which could mean the firm lays off significantly less than 1,000 staff. 

Salesforce is reportedly preparing to list 300 new positions next week as it shifts its business model due to the impact of COVID-19. In March, as the pandemic shut down large parts of the economy, CEO Marc Benioff pledged not to lay off employees for 90 days. That period came to an end sometime in June. 

“We’re reallocating resources to position the company for continued growth,” a Salesforce spokesperson said. “This includes continuing to hire and redirecting some employees to fuel our strategic areas, and eliminating some positions that no longer map to our business priorities.”

Employees that don’t manage to land new positions will be offered severance and six months of pay benefits, the company said.

The cuts come just a day after the cloud giant reported a quarterly profit of $2.63 billion on revenue of $5.15 billion. Its revenue has grown 29% compared to the previous year and the firm expects total revenue of $20.7 billion in its current fiscal year, ending 31 Jan.

Shares in the company have also never been higher, with stock surpassing a 19% gain recorded in November 2008.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent recession has forced a number of companies into mass redundancies and strategic shifts, such as permanent remote working or a greater focus on digital operations. Salesforce’s financial officer Mark Hawkins said the company was making “strategic shifts” that reflected how and where people now work as a result of the pandemic. 

“This means we’ll be redirecting some of our resources to fuel growth and areas that are no longer as aligned with the business priority will be de-emphasised,” he said.

Microsoft launches automatic transcribe for Word online

Bobby Hellard

26 Aug, 2020

Microsoft is adding an audio transcription feature to the online version of Word that will be free for Office 365 subscribers.

The new service will allow users to import existing audio files or to record conversations directly into Word before having them automatically transcribed.

Microsoft’s transcription feature can capture audio from your PC, which can be MP3 recordings of meetings, phone calls or even YouTube videos. It will also capture audio from your machine’s microphone for direct dictation. It has support for up to 200MB of MP3, WAV, M4A or MP4 files.

Once a conversation is transcribed, Microsoft’s AI will separate different speakers and break the text into easily readable chunks that will be timestamped for easier playback. Users can then edit and insert these text clippings into a Word document.

The playback element is similar to its text-to-audio service, Immersive Reader, which was launched on 25 August and powered by its Azure AI platform.

AI-powered transcription has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly with apps like, Happy Scribe and Trint, all of which boast high degrees of accuracy when transcribing near-perfect audio, but fall short when it comes to non-US accents.

However, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft’s own software is going to be able to draw users away from existing free models, particularly as there’s no way to access it outside of Office 365 and usage is capped at 5 hours worth of uploads per month, which is half the upload allowance available on the free tier of

Transcribe in Word will be available from today and is free for all Microsoft 365 subscribers. It’s also supported in the new Microsoft Edge and Chrome browsers. A mobile version for iOS and Android is due later in the year.

The service currently only supports English, although Microsoft said more languages will be made available at a later date.

Gif courtesy of Microsoft Blog

Cisco Webex tackles background noise with BabbleLabs acquisition

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

26 Aug, 2020

Cisco is planning to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) technology from BabbleLabs into its collaboration division to improve the audio quality of participants in Cisco Webex meetings and remove background noise.

BabbleLabs specialises in developing AI that can detect speech, distinguish this from background noise, and use speech enhancement tech to improve the quality and clarity of speech.

New in Parallels Desktop 16 – “Prepare for Transfer”

This post is part of a series about new features in Parallels Desktop 16

Deploying a virtual machine (VM) can be cumbersome for two reasons:  

  1. It can be pretty large—sometimes 100s of gigabytes.  
  1. It is in a Macintosh-only file format.  

The new feature, “Prepare for Transfer”, addresses both of these concerns, and it is a feature in the Parallels Desktop Pro Edition and Parallels Desktop Business Edition

First, let’s talk about size. Even if there is room, most VMs can’t be copied to USB thumb drives because the size of the VM is too large for the way in which most thumb drives are formatted. In the case of the thumb drive in Figure 1, it was formatted in FAT32 (MS-DOS) so that it could be used with both a Mac and a PC.

Transfer VM
Figure 1_Even if there is room, most VMs can’t be copied to a USB Thumb Drive

The maximum file size for FAT32 is 4GB, and the VM I attempted to move is more than 9GB in size. 

I did I quick survey of the VM sizes on my Macs. The smallest is 9.39GB; the largest is 262GB; and the average seems to be around 30-40GB. Moving a 90GB VM from one hard drive to another takes about 130 minutes; moving to an SSD takes about 50 minutes; and I don’t even want to think about moving a 90GB VM to Dropbox or OneDrive, but I suspect it would take more than 20 hours. 

And, there is the issue of file format. Parallels Desktop VMs are stored as Mac packages. A package is basically a folder masquerading as a single file. You can force the Finder to show you the inside of a package, and Figure 2 shows the inside of one of my VMs.

Transfer VM
Figure 2_Inside the VM package

Packages are only supported on the Mac or an iOS device, so cloud storage systems aren’t really equipped to deal with packages, but they do the best they can. 

A Parallels Desktop power user, and especially an IT Admin who manages the Parallels Desktop deployments inside a company, often need to move VMs around and generally use non-Apple file servers and other devices. For this reason, IT Admins told us that help in moving/deploying VMs is high on the list of requested improvements for Parallels Desktop. This was the motivation behind the new “Prepare for Transfer” feature in Parallels Desktop 16, which compresses the VM and converts it to a single zip file that any system can handle. 

A Pro or Business Edition user just has to right-click on a VM in the Control Center to access this new feature, as seen in Figure 3. Choosing this menu command presents the dialog also shown in Figure 3.

Transfer VM
Figure 3_Preparing a VM for transfer

When the compression and conversion is finished, the VM appears in the Control Center as a “package”, as shown in Figure 4.

Transfer VM
Figure 4_The compressed VM in the Control Center

A single menu command will decompress this package into an ordinary VM, as shown in Figure 5. 

Transfer VM
Figure 5_Decompressing a VM is a single menu command

So, how long does it take to compress and decompress a VM, and what compression savings does it achieve? While the CPU speed on the Mac and the speed of the disk drive or SSD are factors, the only remaining important variable is the size of the VM. I took some quick measurements on my MacBook Pro to give you some idea of the time involved, and they are shown in Table 1. 

OS  VM size (GBs)  Compressed size (GB)  Compression Time  Decompression Time 
Windows 10  10 GB  5 GB  1 minutes, 
5 seconds 
21 seconds 
Ubuntu  11 GB  5 GB  1 minute, 
26 seconds 
24 seconds 
macOS Big Sur  31 GB  23 GB  4 minutes,  
15 seconds 
1 minute, 
19 seconds 
Windows 10 Insider Preview  262 GB  200 GB  38 minutes, 
31 Seconds 
11 minutes, 
52 seconds 

I hope this gives you a useful overview of this new feature in Parallels Desktop 16. Let us know in the comments how this feature is working for you. 

Feel free to test Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac for 14 days for free

The post New in Parallels Desktop 16 – “Prepare for Transfer” appeared first on Parallels Blog.

Telehouse to expand London Docklands data centre campus

Sabina Weston

25 Aug, 2020

Telehouse has announced plans to further expand its campus in London’s Docklands area by adding a new, 31,000 square metre data centre.

The new facility, which will be the Telehouse’s fifth data centre in London Docklands, will stretch across six floors and have a total power capacity of 30MVA. Located approximately 300m away from the existing Telehouse London Docklands data centres, it will be connected to them with the help of a network of existing fibre-optic cables.

The company announced that the new facility will offer the same credentials as the currently-existing Dockland campus buildings, providing a “flexible, scalable infrastructure” for enterprises seeking “a highly secure operating environment” as well as the ability to interconnect with a variety of cloud, network and IT service providers.

The first floor of the new data centre will host around 500 racks and is scheduled to become available to customers in early 2022. The further five floors are to follow later, with no date specified at the time of going to press.

Commenting on the announcement, Telehouse Europe managing director Ken Sakai said that the “latest investment demonstrates our continued support for the UK market”. 

“London is one of the most critical interconnection points in the world and plays a major role in facilitating the flow of data that supports the growing digital economy. The new data centre will ensure we are well-positioned to continue this growth, service our customers’ needs and meet future demand,” he said.

The news of the development coincides with the 30th anniversary of the launch of Telehouse’s first London data centre.

In 2010, the company also completed a data centre which uses excess heat to power a housing development and businesses in the Docklands area. The facility, which cost £80 million to build, exports heat through the cooling system and converts it into energy. Although three storeys taller than the newly-announced data centre, it holds significantly less floor space: 19,000 square metres.

Telehouse Europe’s technical services director at the time, Bob Harris, said that “any attempt to address the lack of space within the data centre industry has to be undertaken with a level of environmental awareness”.

Xero to acquire cloud invoicing specialist Waddle

Sabina Weston

25 Aug, 2020

Cloud-based accounting software firm Xero has acquired Waddle, a lending platform which specialises helping small businesses gain access to capital. 

The transaction, valued at AU$ 80 million (around £44 million) is expected to be completed before the end of the year and is subject to satisfaction of closing conditions. According to Xero, the transaction, integration, and operating costs are expected to have minimal impact on the company’s FY21 EBITDA.

Xero CEO Steve Vamos described the Waddle acquisition as “an important step” in the company’s “strategy to help small businesses better manage cash flow and gain access to working capital”. 

He added: “Waddle’s lending platform has the potential to enable a wide range of banks, fintechs and other lenders to better support small business financial needs. We’re excited about the benefits Waddle can bring to many of our customers and banking partners.” 

Founded in Australia in 2014, Waddle’s lending platform service automates the manual processes involved in invoice financing, making it easier for banks and fintechs to lend to small businesses.

Although headquartered in Sydney, Waddle – which has been a Xero ecosystem partner since 2016 – currently also serves customers in the UK. Following the acquisition, it is expected to continue to offer services to customers and partners, including other accounting software providers.

The announcement comes two years after Xero acquired document management and collection software Hubdoc for £53 million. Following the acquisition, it was also announced that Hubdoc’s co-founder and CEO Jamie McDonald joined Xero’s leadership team as executive general manager of product, accounting, and global services. It is unclear whether Waddle co-founders and directors Simon Creighton and Nathan Andrews will hold any new positions within the company.

Xero offers three tiers of SaaS accounting suites targeting businesses of various sizes: Xero Starter for £10 per month, Xero Standard for £22 per month, and Xero Premium for £27.50 per month. Unlike some of its rivals, all three tiers support online VAT submission to HMRC and also offer new subscriber discounts.