Even though Hyper-V R2 is a fantastic hypervisor, it’s not easy to manage if you haven’t got the proper tools. Fortunately, there are plenty of downloads available if you know where to look. Here are our top 10 favorite free Hyper-V downloads.

1) Microsoft’s Remote Server Administration Tool
If you didn’t install Hyper-V as a role inside Windows Server, or if you used a Core installation of Windows, you won’t have any management tools at all to start with. Even if you’re running a full Server GUI to manage Hyper-V, it’s still a good idea to manage the hypervisor remotely to lower resource contention and add a little convenience. Download and install Microsoft’s Remote Server Administration Tools to your computer running Windows 7 and manage your Hyper-V and Failover Cluster (as well as a number of non-Hyper-V roles on your other Windows Servers) from the comfort of your own desktop.

Remote Server Administration Tool

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2) Sysinternals Suite
If you don’t own a copy of System Center Virtual Machine Manager, it can be difficult to convert your physical machines into Hyper-V virtual machines. Fortunately, there’s a tool available that can do the hardest part: convert a physical drive into a VHD file. This nifty tool is called “Disk2VHD” and is provided by Sysinternals (now a part of Microsoft). It is available as a standalone item or as part of the incredibly useful Sysinternals Suite.

3) PowerShell Management Library for Hyper-V
For all the convenience that GUIs provide, raw power is found at the command prompt — or the PowerShell prompt. Gain quick control over your Hyper-V deployment using the PowerShell Management Library for Hyper-V.

4) Microsoft’s SQLIOSim tool
How do you know if your Hyper-V deployment can handle (another) SQL Server? Hard drive I/O is probably the most limiting factor for database and other high-performance applications, and the last thing you want is to find out that your system is overloaded after you’ve gone through the trouble of deployment. It never hurts to check your system periodically, just to ensure its operating as expected. While not specifically designed for Hyper-V, Microsoft’s SQLIOSim tool is thorough, highly configurable, and available at an unbeatable price: free.

5) Core Configurator 2.0
If you put Hyper-V right on the hardware, you may struggle a bit with some management tasks, such as configuring network cards or setting up Windows Updates. Instead of giving up and putting in a full Windows installation, take a look at Core Configurator 2.0 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Corefig for Windows Server 2012 Core and Hyper-V Server 2012. As its name implies, this package was designed for Server Core, but it runs just fine on Hyper-V as well and even has a section for power management of virtual machines. Take some of the stress out of management and configuration with this excellent tool.

Core Configurator 2.0

6) VHD Resizer
Expanding a VHD is easy. You shut down the virtual machine, access its properties in Hyper-V Manager, and set the VHD to the larger size. But what if you made the VHD too large and now want to shrink it? Fortunately, there’s a VHD Resizer for that.

7) Microsoft Assessment and Planning tool
The most common difference between a smooth deployment and a frustrating one is planning. Get a good look ahead at how well your shiny new hardware will handle the virtualization of your current physical hardware with the Microsoft Assessment and Planning tool.

8 ) ManageEngine’s configuration tool
Wouldn’t it be great if Hyper-V had a nice dashboard so you could keep an eye on its performance? Maybe someday. Until then, ManageEngine’s configuration tool helps to fill the gap. As a bonus, it can configure some settings on individual virtual machines.

ManageEngine's configuration tool

9) VHD Attach
Two years after the release of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, a lot of administrators don’t realize that they can directly mount VHD files. That’s probably because the only way provided by Microsoft is from within Disk Management. Get right-click options for VHD files in Windows Explorer using VHD Attach. This small tool can save a surprising amount of time if you find yourself with a virtual machine that won’t start and you need to operate directly on files within the VHD.

10) Hyper-V Guest Console
When performing complicated tasks involving virtual machines and their Hyper-V host, it’s sometimes necessary to switch between a remote session to the host’s console and your GUI installation for management. Hyper-V Guest Console can reduce the switching by providing an interface comparable to Hyper-V Manager within Hyper-V’s console. Usage of this product was featured in an earlier blog on this site.

Honorable Mentions

Free Hyper-V Backup

Since this site is run by Altaro, it might have been somewhat unseemly to include their products in the top ten list. Even so, there’s no reason not to mention that Altaro provides a pair of excellent and free products that address one of the most critical aspects of Hyper-V management: backup. The first is the free edition of Hyper-V backup, which lets you protect two virtual machines.

PowerShell – Hyper-V Export

The second is a PowerShell script that leverages Hyper-V’s export function as an alternative to a full backup solution.

Virtual Machine Servicing Tool

Another outstanding utility is Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Servicing Tool. It’s free, so it almost fits in the above list, but it requires System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 or 2008 R2. If you’ve built gold master images as templates or have some virtual machines that you keep offline (like a root certificate authority), VMST can be used to keep them up-to-date on patches exactly as they sit without the need to turn them on.

Looking for more Hyper-V downloads & resources?

Have a look at this list: 101 Free Hyper-V Downloads, Tools, Scripts and Resources