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Windows 7: How to Copy a Virtual XP machine

05 Aug 2009   #1

Windows 7 RC
How to Copy a Virtual XP machine

I have tried to make a copy of a virtual XP machine for backup purposes, but the new Virtual machine will not open. Any Ideas on the correct procedure to make a copy of an existing virtual machine?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Aug 2009   #2


Hello, jpgailey, and welcome to SevenForums, The Ultimate Windows 7 site.

Every virtual hard drive (vhd) created with Virtual PC consists of three files if it is turned off, or of four files if it is hibernated or running. The file extensions for these files are:
  • .vhd = Virtual Machine virtual hard drive image
  • .vmc = Virtual Machine settings file
  • .vsv = Virtual Machine saved state file
  • .vmcx = Virtual Machine description and registration settings
First three files are located in C:\Users\Your_Username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines, the last one in C:\Users\Your_Username\Virtual Machines. The two latter files are created automatically; to make a copy of a Virtual Machine we only need .vhd and .vmc files. In this example we call the original virtual drive Windows XP Mode, and the copy we create Windows XP Mode- Copy. You can name all your virtual drives as you like, as long as you remember to modify the settings file as described here.

Copying Virtual XP or any other virtual hard disk created with Virtual PC is very easy and fast. Here's what you have to do:
  1. Turn off your Virtual XP, do not hibernate it
  2. Open Folder Options, choose Show hidden files, folders and drives. Uncheck Hide extensions for known file types
    How to Copy a Virtual XP machine-hide_extension.png
  3. Goto C:\Users\Your_Username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines
  4. Copy Windows XP Mode.vhd and Windows XP Mode.vmc files. To be sure you copy the right files you can open Folder Options and uncheck "Hide extensions for known file types" and click OK
  5. Paste files to the same folder. Windows adds word Copy to both filenames, so now you have two new files: Windows XP Mode - Copy.vhd and Windows XP Mode - Copy.vmc
  6. Open Windows XP Mode - Copy.vmc with Notepad. It is a xml-file, so you can edit it normally with Notepad
  7. Find the following string containing virtual drives name: <drive_type type="integer">1</drive_type>
    How to Copy a Virtual XP machine-name_of_vhd.png
  8. Under the <drive_type...> change the vhd-file name to Windows XP Mode - Copy.vhd both in <absolute type="string"> and <relative type="string">
  9. Find the following place under <virtual_network> containing MAC-adress for Virtual XP's ethernet adapter: <id type="bytes">
    How to Copy a Virtual XP machine-ethernet.png
  10. To allow two copies of Virtual XP to connect to network simultaneously , we have to change the MAC-adress of the ethernet adapter to avoid MAC-adress conflict. Adress is given in hex, 0-9 and A-E. It is enough to change one bit. In this example we have changed the last bit from 1 to 0
  11. Save and close the file
  12. Go to C:\Users\Your_Username\Virtual Machines , copy Windows XP Mode.vmcx and paste it to same folder
  13. Open the file Windows XP Mode - Copy.vmcx with Notepad
  14. Change the vhd-file name to Windows XP Mode - Copy.vhd both in <primary_disk1 type="string"> and <vmc_path type="string">
    How to Copy a Virtual XP machine-name_vmcx.png
  15. Save and close the file
  16. Open Folder Options and choose Don't show hidden files, folders or drives. Check Hide extensions for known file types and click OK.
That's it. Now you can run two Virtual XP's simultaneously.

How to Copy a Virtual XP machine-virtualxp_copy.png

Have fun,


My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Aug 2009   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Here is how I do it
1). Shut down original machine
2). Copy the large virtual hard drive file to another location
3). Create a new VM and give it a new hard drive of any size
4). Copy the large virtual hard drive file from the backup location into the new folder
5). Go into the new VM and delete it's hard drive from the hard drive
6). Choose add hardware, add an existing hard drive and point at the file that you just copied over
7). Start the new VM.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

08 Aug 2009   #4

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers

Hi there
If you use a product like vmware just power off the vm and then on the menu choose CLONE VM>

You can either make a "linked" clone or a full clone. the full clone is what you need as the "linked" clone will still require access to the state of the original vm.

(I think virtual box has this facility as well).

Another method is to install acronis true image on your VM and back it up.

Then create another vm. install acronis true image and restore your original vm.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #5

Windows 7 RC 64bit

will this let you have more than 1 XP vm, if you copy the "xp mode" vm?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #6


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by s0me0ne View Post
will this let you have more than 1 XP vm, if you copy the "xp mode" vm?
Yes. I have currently 3 separate, individual Virtual XP's for test purposes. Come back if you have any problems.

Three separate Virtual XP's starting, same time on same computer:

How to Copy a Virtual XP machine-starting_virtual_machines.png

Three different users logging each on own XP:

How to Copy a Virtual XP machine-login_three_virtualxps.png

Three XP's running:

How to Copy a Virtual XP machine-three_users_three_xps.png


My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #7

Windows 7 RC 64bit

Sweet. So copying XPMode wont mess things up? I was worried it might confuse win7 since you could pull apps from 3 different xpmode vms
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #8


Guten abend, s0me0ne. Willkommen in das SevenForum.

Of course every virtual session uses a lot of your computers resources, other than that there are no problems.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2009   #9
Mick Mickle

Windows 7 Professional


I was able to follow your directions, but the copy of the WinXP Mode has greyed out login credentials in the settigs. That makes me feel that it's not a fulluy independent virtual session. Is it necessary to duplicate the parent disk as well? My purpose is to test potential malware and be able to just delete one copy if need be and revert to a backup virtual XP. (I am aware of the undo disk feature, but I'd feel more comfortable simply having a full second clean copy.)

My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2009   #10


Hi Mick, welcome to the Seven Forums.

I'm running three separate XP virtual machines for testing purposes and they are all working well, indepently. Any copy of XP Mode is always looking the base (or parent) drive in C:\Program Files\Windows XP Mode and it should remain there. It is not necessary to copy the base when copying the XP Mode.

A bit more "easy to read" tutorial is found here.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to Copy a Virtual XP machine

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