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Windows 7: Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...

06 Jun 2010   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (Full)
Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...

Hello all

Sorry for some probably very redundant Virtual PC and XP Mode noob questions and for not finding these on my one via a search but with several to ask and probably ones common enough to get a million results, I was just hoping I could put them all into one post.

As well, sorry that there is a lot here but I figured I'd get all I could think of in one post and for any questions that can be answered, it would be very helpful.

1: Protection:

So in XP mode, should I install my Firewall program? I have it running already in Win7 but I was just wondering if in full XP mode, does this override that and open up some of my ports?

As well, should I install my defrag program? The one I already have works full time in the background and is already on the Win7 machine doing that, but I just thought I would ask if anyone thinks that would still be beneficial to install and run it for the virtual C: Drive of XP Mode.

As well I would assume any web usage could pick up stuff so I would also assume a antivirus and things like Malwarebytes should be used?

2: Hardware:

So how do things like Hardware drivers work?

In looking in device manager most seem to be using special XP mode ones but I was just wondering if I might get any better operation from installing ones made for the specific hardware and for XP 32bit?

Also there seem to be a few listed with question marks called "Virtual PC Integration Device". So are these some kind of hardware that doesn't have a driver working for them that I should figure out what they are an install one, or is this normal part of things working as it should in this mode?

As well, can anyone tell me why I only seem to have 512mb of memory allocated when I have 3,712 available? As well there seems to be some options to increase via the tool menu that but they are grayed out for me. Is there any thing I can do about that?

In regards to this, in the XP Mode help it reads this can be increase but that I need to shut down the virtual machine, so I am assuming this explanation means it is not done in XP Mode, then it reads:

To configure virtual machine memory

1: Open the settings for the virtual machine. In the Virtual Machines folder, right-click the name of the virtual machine, and then click Settings.

2: In the left pane of the Windows Virtual PC Settings page, click Memory.

3: In the right pane, specify the new amount of memory.

4: Click OK to save the change.

At this point I don't quite understand this, does this mean I should navigate to C:\Users\XYZ\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines and right click on that folder or the .vhd file inside?

At any rate I have done that an there's no setting thing available so it must be something else but as that's all I can get from that so could someone tell me what I'm doing wrong?

Next I have two optical drives but as far as in the drives list in explorer, it is only showing one (the DVD-RW) and not the other (CD-RW) as an optical. For the CD-RW it shows it but as a networked drive like all my other harddrives.

So is there anything I can do about this?

3: Naming & Networking:

Is there anyway I can, or should I even rename the user folder, the computer name and the workgroup name?

For the "user" folder I just would like to make it like my old XP as it is just easer, for the computer and workgroup name, as several other PC's that are networked to this one are already expecting certain names for this machine, I just thought it would be easer if these were those.

But for all of these, if this will screw things up for the virtual machine side of things perhaps it's just better left alone?

4: Backups:

Lastly I had some questions on the backing up of anything in XP Mode:

I typically do full backups of everything on my C:\ drive, so I would assume I would get what ever is in XP Mode, but just to ask, is basically "everything" in the virtual C:\ drive of XP mode stored in folder of C:\Users\XYZ\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines ?

As well if I were to save everything in that folder and had to do a rebuild, could I just do the same install an setting up of things, then delete everything in that folder and copy in the backed up versions and everything is as it was?

Well I guess that's it for now, again, sorry there was a lot here but figured I'd get everything I could think of. As well again, if anyone could answer any of these, it would be very helpful.

Thanks for any help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2010   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Hello WBFair. Good questions, I'm going to answer you as well as I can.

1: Protection:

Xp Mode is a so called virtual machine, running on Virtual PC. A virtual machine is like any other computer; if connected to other computers and / or to the internet, it is vulnerable and needs to be protected. Notice that XP Mode can not benefit or use the AV and firewall solutions of your host computer.

In XP Mode, I'm using and recommending combination of Microsoft Security Essentials and XP's own built-in firewall. For extra security, a scan with Malwarebytes every now and then is also recommended.

A virtual machine is stored in a vhd file (Virtual Hard Disk). A vhd can and should be defragmented. I'm doing it about once a month, using XP Mode's own defragmenter. I recommend not to use any third party, constantly running applications because of the limited resources.

2: Hardware:

A virtual machine uses it's own, emulated hardware and drivers. When XP Mode is installed, the best possible drivers for it are already in place. There's nothing you can do for that, no hardware drivers that you could change to make it run faster or work better.

An example: XP Mode emulates an S3 Trio 32 graphics card. You can not use any other GPU in XP Mode, thus the graphics are a bit limited.

You can allocate as much RAM to XP Mode as you want. My recommendation, based on my own experience, is that if your host computer has 2 to 4 GB RAM, give XP Mode 1GB, and if your host has more than 4GB, give XP Mode 2 GB.

To change the RAM allocation or change other settings, you have to completely turn of XP Mode. By default all Virtual PC machines, XP Mode included, are hibernated when you close them, so first we have to change this.

First we need to go to the XP Mode settings. This can be done in three different ways:
  • Method 1: XP Mode running, open the Tools menu and choose Settings

    Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...-xpm_settings2.png
  • Method 2: Open Virtual Machines folder, located in your user folder. Click XP Mode, click Settings

    Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...-xpm_settings.png
  • Method 3: Open Virtual Machines folder, located in your user folder. Right click XP Mode, click Settings

Whatever method you choose, we should now have the XP Mode Settings window open. Click Close in the left pane, choose Prompt for action in the right, click OK:

Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...-xpm_closing.png

Now start XP Mode if it's not already running. Click the close button in XP Mode window's title bar (red X), and choose Shut Down from drop down menu. Click OK:

Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...-xpm_closing_2.png

Now we can change the amount of RAM allocated to XP Mode. Open Settings as told above, choose Memory from the left pane, type the amount of RAM you want to in the right and click OK:

Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...-xpm_memory.png

Allocating more RAM to XP Mode increases it's speed and performance. Here's another trick you could try, to get even more speed out from your XP Mode.

About those Virtual PC Integration Devices you can see in the XP Mode Device Manager, here's an explanation.

3: Naming & Networking:

You can rename your virtual machines, including XP Mode, as you would rename any other computer. You can also change the workgroup or homegroup (Win7 virtual machines only) as you would change it in any other computer.

4: Backups:

You can backup XP Mode as you would backup any other computer. However, the easiest and simplest method to backup a virtual machine is to make a copy of its vhd file.

XP Mode vhd is located by default in C:\Users\Your_Username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines. This folder contains all the necessary files, however you only need to copy the XP Mode.vhd file. In the beginning of this tutorial you find the explanation of different XP Mode files.

In this thread you find more about backing up XP Mode.

That's it for now. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to post them.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2010   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (Full)

Hello Kari and thank you so much for your in-depth response.

So far I installed my Firewall program an all the others that help with cleaning and protection and all seem to be running great.

Thanks for the tips and links on the drivers too, I had a feeling that was the best route.

Btw as I have 8 gigs of RAM I have set my memory to two gigs, I would assume that going to 4 as XP natively wont even allow that is not best and 2 seems to be more closer to the it is seeing.

One Hardware question I still have though is about the optical drive thing?

Again, by default XP mode seems to have added my DVD-RW drive just fine and has labeled it as it should be. But my second optical, my CD-RW, seems to have been labeled as a networked drive.

All in all as this drive is my faster drive I often use it to install things and not that it isn't impossible, but finding it among the networked drives is kind of a pain. As well, and I am assuming this is the reason, but as it seems to be classified as a network drive, the auto insertion start up thing doesn't seem to be working.

So is there any thing I can do about this?

For some reason I have a funny feeling that Virtual XP mode is only designed to see one optical drive? So is this true and the reason it has done this? If this is true then I would suspect there is nothing I can do about this.

Next just to let you know, I gave the renaming things a try an was able to rename my work group and that seemed to go fine. But when I tried to rename the machine and my user name, it seem to really not like that as one, it then made me do prompt for user upon startup thing, which given the hassle of starting a VPC is hard enough, I don't feel like dealing with. But as well even when I did all that, it would then tell me that I was trying to log back into my own machine and would refuse this.

In regard to this, yes I did use the same computer name and user name as there is on my Win7 machine, which was kind of the whole point as the two reasons I did this for was, the simplicity of redundancy, IE, when having the play with transferring files and other related work, its always easier when things are same-same. As well the other reason was that I didn't want to bog my network system up with machines with different names and networked folders with different name that were popping in an out all the time as especially with all my other older XP computers, they really don't like that much.

At any rate, I would suspect that you will tell me that there is a way to get this to work but all in all given the amount I may use VXP, I think it really isn't worth the trouble but I just thought I would fill you in on my experience.

Lastly, in regards to the backing up of VXP, if I understand all the info I have read, if I have backed up copies of all the files in: C:\Users\Your_Username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines & C:\Users\Your_Username\Virtual Machines and I was rebuilding a machine from scratch, I could then do a install of the VM system, then copy and paste an over-write the files in those folders with the backed up copies, and everything will fine and back as it was?

Basically my way of doing things for protection and back-up is, as I don't really have a lot of time to play figure out what I need and or trust incremental's, and since storage is so cheap, I just do complete full back ups of everything, usually two or three copies deep, and then if anything goes bad, I'll just go to those and get what I need and replace it. Then as well if I ever have to do a full rebuild, I do the same.

So if those two folders and my description of installing VM and over-writing those folders with BU copies, or if any of my VM files ever got corrupted and I was to so the same with VM still on the machine, will work correctly to restore everything my VM was, then that is just what I need.

Again, thanks so much for all the help Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec

07 Jun 2010   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


I had a busy day, no time to answer you earlier. Anyway, here we go:

I have not noticed any performance gain after 2 gigs of RAM, I think that should be enough. As you said, a 32-bit Windows can find and use maximum about 3,2 - 3,3 gigs.

As long as there are drive letters available (a to z), there are no restrictions how many optical or other drives XP Mode can see. Is your CD drive, the one XP Mode don't find, an external one? If so, check if you can find it in USB menu, attach and share if needed:

Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...-xpm_usb1.png

If using integration, check that the drive is shared in Settings > Integration features (see this post, 4th & 5th image).

About renaming and computer names: please believe me, to have two or more computers with same name in a Windows network is a sure way to mess up things really badly. Let all computers have own, independent name. I mean all computers, real or virtual; no "name-sharing"! You might think it makes networking easy but it does not. Read this, especially responses 2 & 3.

Backing the XP Mode is easy. If you are using default locations, i.e. you let the different XP Mode and Virtual PC files to saty where they are located by default, then the only thing you have to do to backup is to copy XP Mode.vhd to a safe place. As you already know, it's located in C:\Users\Your_Username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines.

The .vmc and .vmcx files don't have to be copied, they are simple settings files, only existing to tell XP Mode where it finds components needed to run. These files can easily be recreated by remounting the XP Mode vhd or reinstalling XP Mode.

Same with .vsv, which only exists if XP Mode is hibernated, containing hibernation information (same as hiberfile.sys in Win7).

Of course there's no harm done if you also copy these files to save location, as well as XP Mode Base.vhd from C:\Program Files\Windows XP Mode

To restore XP Mode, just replace originals with your copies.

That's all for now, I need more whisky so taking a short break


My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2010   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (Full)

Hello Keri and thanks again so much for all the help, and NP bout the time either, it is not a issue and not my style anyway.

I think that we have gotten everything straight away and solved, but I think we may still be getting our communication on the optical drive thing mixed up.

Just to note, this is an internal optical drive and all is fine in its operation in both Win7 & XPV, it's just that it is not being shown right

Perhaps to better illustrate what I'm talking about I've done my best to make and post a snapshot.
Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...-capture.jpg

As you will see from the pic, I have my normal virtual C drive, then my DVD drive. Then after that I have the networked drives C, D & E and those are all installed internal harddrives, then F is the partition on C for Bitlocker.

Then there is G, and G is the other optical drive, the CD-RW.

Then H is one last harddrive.

Note too, that these harddrives are all internal and have data on them.

So as you see, the CD-RW drive optical drive is being shown as a Networked drive like all the others an not an optical like it is or like the DVD is and I was just wondering if this is normal and XP mode will only show one optical drive as a optical, or if there is something I can do to make it show both.

Thanks again for everything.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2010   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


My mistake, I was assuming you were talking about external drive.

The DVD Drive D: seen in XP Mode is a virtual drive. You can assign an ISO image, for instance when installing an OS to a new virtual machine from image, or a physical drive to that. This is done in XP Mode Settings:

Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...-xpm_dvd.png

As far as I know, there is no way to use more than three virtual hard disks and one (virtual) DVD drive in XP Mode without third party software (MagicDisk, Daemon etc.)

All other host computer's optical drives, as well as hard drives, can only be accessed as mapped network drives or when integration is enabled, directly from XP Mode's My Computer.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jun 2010   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (Full)

Thanks for the reply Kari

I think I get it better now, wasn't really thinking of these drives as virtual drives.

As well, I guess I was basically correct in that it can only see one optical drive as I would guess that's just the way it is for VPC's, or the way at least MS built this one.

Interesting to note that I was able to switch these via the settings by changing the drive letters for the optical and that made my only labeled optical the CD-RW, and switched the DVD to the network labeled one.

Interesting to note that even when I did this, it was still named as a DVD drive and could not be renamed so this must also be a hard-coded part of the this VPC

In the end what I did was, I switched them back, created a shortcut the the DVD drive, then a shortcut to the network labeled CD-RW drive, then I change that shortcuts Icon to a optical drive Icon, renamed them and then put them in my start menu as I usually do.

This made things just like I had them in XP before. Bout the only funny thing about this is that is seems to show that CD-RW drive now with an oddly named label in the "Network" section, kinda like is was a folder being shared?

Anyway, hardly a bother.

btw just to mention it, while I was doing things I decided to try renaming the PC again and named it the same as the main but just dashed the term VXP at the end an that all worked nice.

I guess it was mainly the attempted to remake the same named user folder that is in the main that really messed things up most.

So all in all, all is well and I just want to that you so much for all you help.

Btw one last thing, since I last wrote, as I was having so many other issues in my Win7 machine, I had to do a fix reinstall and that seem to take out the VPC. The files still seemed to be there but the install was gone.

So I backed up all the files we discussed and then reinstalled it and everything was back exactly as it was!

Now I know the files already being there was a plus but but I would assume this would be the same if they weren't and I copied them, so I do feel that this was a good example of a trial run.

So thanks as well for that.

All the best
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jun 2010   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


You are most welcome.

Happy computing!

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Sorry for some Virtual PC & XP Mode noob questions but...

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