Have you ever noticed how quickly your virtual machines become bloated? You know, after a few days of installing and uninstalling applications, adding and removing files and generally working on a server, you turn around and your virtual machine file has doubled, but there's certainly not double the quantity of data on there?

If this happens to one virtual machine that might be acceptable but, on a consolidated server with several virtual machines on the same host, you can see where a simple problem like virtual machine disk bloat can really start to get out of hand.

Parallels, the company that recently brought Parallels Desktop for Mac to market, has announced the release of Parallels Compressor. This virtualisation application is an easy-to-use management tool that helps reduce the size of virtual hard disks, sometimes by 50 percent or more.

One of the nice things about this tool is its non-discriminatory, universal approach at virtual hard disk "weight loss". Compressor will slim down a virtual machine created with Parallels, as well as VMware or Microsoft virtualisation products. Doing so reclaims that "stolen" disk space to free up disk storage, speeds up virtual machine disk copy time, and optimizes the now fit and trim virtual machine.

The product is sold in two flavours, Workstation and Server. Compressor Workstation, which retails for $49, is optimised for virtual workstations running Windows 2000 or XP. Compressor Server, available for $179, is a professional-grade tool that is optimised for virtual server or virtual workstations running Windows 2000, XP, 2000 Server or Server 2003.

Parallels Desktop for Mac build 1848 already has Parallels Compressor Server technology built-in.

For more details, check out Parallels Web site.