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I used to have a Windows 7 setup on my desktop.

C:\ for system.
D:\ for data.

Now I've decided to install Ubuntu as the main OS:

\     for Ubuntu (80Gb)
swap  for swap
D:\   I kept this partition for the data. It still contains my data.

I've opened the file system and noticed that I can access the data on it, I just have to "mount" it? It seems Ubuntu is doing that for me though as I haven't had to configure anything.

Will creating a fixed size Virual Machine disc (VirtualBox) on the mounted (D:\) partition make my virtual machine slower than if it were on a regular ext4 partition?

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I can only guess but I think that it will (considering that your D-drive is NTFS-formatted). To read/write onto a NTFS-drive, mount.ntfs will be started which can quickly consume a lot of CPU power. I don't know if this problem is solved by mounting via ntfs-3g though. – onse Feb 10 '12 at 23:39
It shouldn't matter much if the virtual disk is on an ext4 or NTFS partition. PS: Glad you've discovered that Ubuntu can read from and write to NTFS out of the box. – mikewhatever Feb 10 '12 at 23:44

All volumes must be mounted to be usable, so even if you changed the filesystem on your "D:\" drive, you'd still have to mount it. That said, you probably won't notice much difference between ext4 and NTFS. A single virtual machine is not likely to push the limits of either filesystem.

If performance is a huge concern, you'll want to research filesystem benchmarking techniques. Phoronix has some information on such matters.

A side note: The Gnome environment handles a lot of the details of volume mounting, but the mounts aren't persistent: after you reboot, the mount will be gone. For any sort of non-trivial usage (such as virtualization), you will want to mount your "D:\" drive with an /etc/fstab entry so it's mounted when the system starts up.

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