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How to access the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) for Windows XP mode from Windows 7

Description: Windows uses the VHD format for XP mode. This can be accessed through disk management.

  1. VHD - Virtual Hard Disk
    • The XP mode is stored in a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) file. This format is used by several programs that run virtual machines. The format can be used for several operating systems as well as Windows XP. Windows 7 has the ability to mount and display these files as though they are a real physical drive.
  2. Setting up XP Mode
    • Saving files to the standard "My Documents" folder within XP mode will not allow access to them from the Windows 7 side because of incorrect permissions. (XP mode and win7 are considered two separate machines)
    • Make a new folder in the root directory of C:\ within XP mode.
    1. Open XP mode
    2. Click on Start, then on My Computer
      Windows XP Mode, Start, My Computer
    3. Double click the local drive C:
      Windows XP Mode, C Drive
    4. Go to File » New »Folder
      Windows XP Mode, Windows Explorer
    5. Rename the folder to XP Mode Files (or any other name that is descriptive).
      Windows XP Mode Files Folder
    6. Create a shortcut to the folder on the desktop by right-clicking the folder and then choosing send to desktop.
      Windows XP Mode Files Folder, Send Shortcut to Desktop
    • Shut down XP Mode
    1. Click on Ctrl-Alt-Del from the top menu
    2. Choose Shut Down button from the menu
      Windows XP Mode Shutdown
    3. Then Choose shut down from the pull down menu.
      Windows XP Mode Shutdown
    4. Note: The XP mode will not work as long as the VHD file is attached to the windows 7 system.
  3. Attach the VHD
    • This will allow you to explore the virtual hard drive (like a flash drive).
    • Click on Start
    • Move the mouse pointer over Computer and right-click the mouse.
      Windows 7 Start Menu, Computer, Manage
    • Choose Manage from the menu
    • Right click on Disk Management
    • Choose Attach VHD
      Windows 7 Disk Management, Attach VHD
    • Browse to C:\Users\your username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines
      Windows 7 Browse
      Windows 7 Explorer, Choose File
    • AppData is a hidden folder. If it is not visible take the following steps.
    1. Start » Computer
    2. Tap the ALT button once on the keyboard
    3. Choose Tools
    4. Choose Folder options
    5. Click the button to show hidden files folders and drives
      Windows 7 Folder Options
    6. Click OK
      Windows 7, OK, Save Changes
    • Close computer management and open computer. You will now see your new attached disk as a drive under Hard Disk Drives.
      Windows 7 Windows Explorer, Drive
    • You can browse to this drive and transfer files in and out of your created folder.
  4. Detach the VHD
    • In order to start the Windows XP mode you will need to Detach the VHD. Windows 7 and Windows XP cannot use the Virtual Hard Drive at the same time.
    • Open Disk Management as above except left click to open the drive view.
    • The mounted VHD will show in blue and will have the same drive letter as in Computer (I:) in this case.
    • Find the Disk that also has a blue drive icon beside the number and the volume is labeled with the same drive letter as at the top.
    • Right click the white area to the left (that has the Disk 5 - or whatever number)
    • Choose Detach VHD
      Windows 7 Disk Management, Detach
    • Click OK on the pop up window and the drive will detach.
    • Windows XP Mode can now be opened.