My Azure Virtual Machine – disappointing


The 90 day free trial of Azure that I started so that I could describe how to build OpenELEC in the cloud is coming to a close. As I sit here once again waiting for my machine to reboot I don’t think I’ll miss it much when it’s gone.

I’ve already written about my issues with the stingy IO limits when the trial began, and to Microsoft’s credit they fixed that. Hopefully they’ll also be able to fix the other issues that I’ve seen, though I expect I’ll never get to see those changes.


I once had a VPS that I’d bought via LowEndBox that was perhaps less stable than my Azure VM has been, but the service providers for that freely admitted they were running in on hardware that was falling to bits in front of them. Azure is brand new, and shouldn’t be suffering the stability issues I’ve been seeing.

Random restarts

A number of times I’ve signed into my machine to grab the results of some long running task that I’d kicked off only to find that it had restarted, which isn’t great.

Filesystem going read only

Even more frequently than the random restarts I’ve often found that the root filesystem has become read only, preventing me from doing anything useful:

cp: cannot create regular file `/foo/bar': Read-only file system

Long restart times

To add insult to injury it takes way too long (>10 minutes) to restart a VM when I hit the read only filesystem problem (whether I do a simple ‘sudo reboot’ or initiate the restart from the management console).

Poor Ubuntu integration

It’s claimed that MS worked closely with Canonical to get Ubuntu onto Azure, but I’ve seen precious little evidence of this. When I first installed my VM it came up needing a whole raft of updates including many security updates, and more recently I’ve been greeted with:

7 packages can be updated.
7 updates are security updates.

But when I do sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade I get:

The following packages have been kept back:
 linux-image-extra-virtual linux-image-virtual linux-tools linux-virtual
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 4 not upgraded.


If I was paying for Azure I’d be very angry. It’s been woefully worse than various VPS and IaaS services I use and test, and the sticker price is substantially higher. As things stand I’ve paid a few quid over the free subscription, which I won’t lose any sleep over, but I’m not likely to be back in any hurry.

8 Responses to “My Azure Virtual Machine – disappointing”

  1. 1 larstr

    I have seen filesystems going into read only a few times in a virtual environment. This has typically happened when the load of the backend storage has been way too high and the linux VM hasn’t been able to write data to the file system in time. I guess they haven’t scaled their storage system to handle the type of load that they’re experiencing. Your reboot times also confirms this.


  2. Maybe its in the title “Preview”?

    • I got a tweet from @mdesilver along the same lines ‘thanks for the feedback! Thankfully this is a preview service and issues should be fixed by general availability.’

      Here’s why I don’t accept the ‘preview’ label as suitable defence:

      1. I’ve been paying actual money to MS during the trial of this preview, it’s a low amount, but more than I’ve paid for other cloud services I’ve tested in the past and that I’m testing now that have been labelled Beta or whatever.
      2. Those other service providers that I’ve tested (who have much less resource than MS) have been the benchmark that I’m comparing MS against, in terms of reliability etc.

  3. I’m experiencing the exact same problems. My Production (no less!) site is down right now because of a random restart. IIS didn’t came up as expected, and I’m unable to reach the box.
    Now I need to do a redeploy, which will change the IP-address.
    Performance is poor with random downtime.
    So poor that Azure SLA doesn’t support any uptime % if you don’t have two instances load balanced. (doubling your bill even for the smallest of websites)

    • I switched out the lights on my VM a few days ago. If MS are able to sort out the performance issues then I might be tempted back if the pricing is very aggressive, but my 90 day trial ended up teaching me two things:

      1. The Azure IaaS isn’t meaningfully differentiated against similar offerings already in the marketplace (at least not in any positive way).
      2. MS can’t hold things up at scale, and it’s taking too long to resolve issues that have been known about for months now.

  4. 7 John

    We’ve dumped over 15k on Azure enterprise and have had completely awful reliability. Not a single one of our 10+ VMs has over 2 days of uptime. The event logs indicate random reboots initiated by explorer for Windows Updates, even though we have updates DISABLED. What gives MS?

  5. 8 Simon

    I come across this post as I have the same problem in Azure – file systems for Ubuntu VM’s going Read Only. Its July 2014 so given Chris raised this in 2012 I don’t think Azure will ever be a reliable cloud service provider.

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