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  1. #1
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    Jul 2010
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    XP Mode Virtual Hard Disk Compacting - How to do it with free tools

    So, Win7's XP Mode virtual disk can grow huge, how do you make it smaller?

    Fred Langa recently provided a simple solution, restoring XP Mode to its native state.

    That solution is not for me, as I like to keep the many program installations, security patches (unavailable via Windows Update after April 2014!) and tweaks I've taken a good deal of effort to install. But Fred's article prompted me to research online how to compact the existing XP Mode, retaining all programs and user data.

    XP Mode compacting is now working for me, and I can lower the virtual hard disk size to 6-7GB even when it has swollen to much larger from large file creation/deletion.

    This takes a number of steps and an hour or two initially, but the next compacting (probably in a few months) will be pretty fast and easy, only taking a few minutes.

    The process is not intuitive, and involves downloading two special freeware programs (one of which has to be the correct version). A mistake could hose your XP Mode, at worst requiring complete re-installation (as per Fred's instructions). So please read and follow the instructions in the attached pdf very carefully.

    Unfortunately I can't deal with the number of enquiries I'm expecting, so please help out each other in this topic! I'll be checking here about every couple of days and providing a little help, especially if any errors are found in my 'how to'. They will hopefully be minimal as I largely followed my own written instructions to compact XP Mode on a second machine.

    The instructions are just too long to post as anything but an attachment, but chin up... if you have reasonable Windows technical skills, you can do it.

    I felt bound to share what I learnt about compacting here, as some people this board have been saying they've deleted their XP Mode's after they swelled to enormous size. A shame, since we already paid for Windows 7, and XP Mode is a feature of it! And ya never know when some obscure program will be needed that works in XP but not Windows 7, so it's nice to have XP Mode already there, with updates and ready to go!!

    A heads-up: You should also, as a separate project, check that Windows Update is working in XP Mode (presuming you read this before April 2014 when XP Mode critical updates cease to be released or provided at all). If it doesn't work (and hasn't worked since about October), this is the topic you want.

    After all the above, be sure to install all Microsoft add-ons, like .Net packages in XP Mode, while you can get 'em!!

    Because of the already lengthy nature of my compacting instructions, I'll ask that only this method of compacting be discussed in this topic. It's been tested, it works. If you have another different compacting method (apparently there is one for those with access to Windows Server), do feel free to start another topic and link to it here.

    Happy compacting!!

    IMPORTANT ADDENDA (Aug 2015, as posted in my other XP Mode topic): I compacted my XP Mode again recently using my own instructions, and found them a little hard to follow initially myself! To help anyone else reading them: Be aware that the beginning section is merely telling you how to make backups and how to recover from any errors that follow. (It is easy to trash the XP Mode installation if one makes certain mistakes in compacting, I made mistakes initially and learnt from them by copious googling, hence the 'how to'). If anyone sends me a message asking for an easier to follow 'v2.0' version, I'll do the editing & post the new version here.

    Now is the time to get all your virtual XP installations fully installed, if you'll ever use it/them, as Microsoft could cease providing patches (past critical updates) at any time.

    XP Mode is a free add-on to Windows 7 (Pro version only, not Home Premium). It doesn't work on more recent versions of Windows (e.g. Windows 8, Windows 10). And its license is not transferable to third-party Virtual Machines (I tried it). So if you upgrade to Windows 10 in-place, bye-bye XP Mode. Or when you eventually uninstall Windows 7 (it'll happen), you'll be uninstalling XP Mode as well.

    So in addition to XP Mode on my own system, I've now installed Oracle VirtualBox and installed XP SP3 within it, so all the patching, tweaking and third-party installations I've spent hours working on will still function under all future versions of Windows (within VirtualBox). Oracle VirtualBox works like a charm for this! I first created a VM called 'XP SP3 Pro' in VirtualBox, then added (using the program) an emulated hard drive & passthrough optical drive. I then cold-installed from my Windows installation DVD from within the XP SP3 VM using the same serial number as my previous desktop XP installation, which was accepted as a valid license. I read somewhere recently that Microsoft allow a number of VM installations of XP per disk, I think it was either three or four.

    To get Windows Update working in a new XP installation, you'll need the Windows Installer 3.1 v2, downloadable from this page.

    [The following is just to help people searching for this topic: XP Pro Professional virtual machine machines VM Oracle Sun VirtualBox box emulated compact compacting huge too big large shrink shrinking small smaller tinier decrease defragment defragmenting zero zeros zeroes zeroise Windows Update Microsoft Update]
    Last edited by bigbadsteve; 2015-08-27 at 03:01. Reason: v2.0 of the 'how to' by request / XP Mode ends with Windows 7

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    ruirib (2014-01-20)

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