Although Win7’s free XP Mode is excellent for running old software, its virtual hard drive can become overly large. But there are ways to control it.
Plus: Getting XP-era software to run on Windows 8, and a warning about “silent failures” in Win8’s File History.
XP Mode’s virtual drive is 30GB — and growing
Win7’s XP Mode is great! It’s a free, virtual-machine setup from Microsoft that comes with its own fully licensed copy of XP Pro SP3 inside. (See the Sept. 22, 2011, Top Story, “Using Windows 7’s XP Mode — step by step.”)
Like many readers, James Dejean uses XP Mode to run some ancient software on his current Win7 PC.
But, as he discovered, XP Mode’s virtual hard drive can become exceedingly bloated.
- “I still need to run an old copy of MS Works, installed in XP Mode on my Win7 PC. It runs fine, but I have a concern.
“The baseline, parent virtual hard disk (.vhd), located in \Program Files\Windows XP Mode, is just 1.1GB in size. But the differencing virtual hard disk, in \Users\James\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines, has grown to almost 30GB — and shows no signs of stopping.
“Moreover, that second .vhd also exists in 27 unmovable fragments, scattered throughout a 120GB partition. I suppose those fragments contain the necessary programs and data. Defragmentation has no effect [on reducing the size of the virtual hard-disk file].