I have been spending a lot of time the past few weeks working with the Windows Azure Virtual Machines that are currently available as a Preview Feature.

The ability to be up and running with a custom hosted Virtual Machine in a matter of minutes without any extra onsite hardware costs still amazes me, although this concept has been around for a while now.  It is ever better that I can use the Virtual Machine for a few hours and then throw it away at a net cost to me of only a few cents. 

As part for creating and removing over 50 Windows Azure Virtual Machines I ran into two main issues.  I wanted to share those issues and the work around I have found for them.

Issue 1Orphaned Windows Azure Virtual Machine Disks.  These are listed under the Virtual Machines area of the preview portal, under Disks.  These are Disks that say they are attached to a Virtual Machine that has already been deleted.  I see this happen in about 1 in 15 Virtual Machines that I create and then delete.

FIX: The best way to deal with orphaned disks is to use PowerShell to delete them.  

Install and configure Azure PowerShell according to this article.  At a high level, you will need to download Azure PowerShell, create a management certificate, upload the certificate, download your account publishing settings, and install them into Azure PowerShell.  It might sound like a lot of work but it takes less than 10 minutes.

Once complete, open PowerShell and run Get-AzureDisk.  This will lists all the Virtual Machine Disks in your account.  It uses your account details from the publishing settings file you imported and authentication is done via the management certificate.

To remote the orphaned disks, run Remove-AzureDisk yourDiskName as shown below.

Issue 2:  When you try to delete a vhd blob you receive the following error: “A lease conflict occurred with the blob https://StorageName.blob.core.windows.net/vhds/YourVHDName.vhd”.

FIX: This is talked about in the forms and they list a PowerShell script for taking care of this issue.  I was unable to get the PowerShell script to work but was able to get the lease broken using the Azure SDK 1.7.1 (on github). 

Once you have a reference to the Azure SDK 1.7.1, it has a method called BreakLease on the CloudBlob class.  The code to break the lease in C# is shown below.  See the form post above for more details on VB and how to use the Azure SDK 1.7.1.

// Create the blob client using the Accounts details in App.Config

CloudStorageAccount sourceStorageAccount = CloudStorageAccount.Parse(CloudConfigurationManager.GetSetting("SourceStorageConnection"));


// Create the blob client using the Accounts above

CloudBlobClient sourceBlobClient = sourceStorageAccount.CreateCloudBlobClient();


// Retrieve reference to a previously created container

// Rename "vhds" as needed.  Can be used to read from any container.

CloudBlobContainer sourceContainer = sourceBlobClient.GetContainerReference("vhds");


CloudBlob sourceBlob = sourceContainer.GetBlobReference(VHDNAME.vhd);

// Create Timespan to allow the Lease to remain, in this case 1 second

TimeSpan breakTime = new TimeSpan(0, 0, 1);


// Call BreakLease (Available in 1.7.1)


Use caution though, make sure you remove the Lease on the right blob otherwise bad and unexpected things will happen.  At the very least, you will need to re-create the Virtual Machine from scratch.

I am working on a simple tool that will help copy, move, and delete VHDs as well as breaks the lease if you wish.  This tool will be available in the next few days.