How Do I Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Windows 7 provides you with the ability to create virtual hard drives (VHD) without having to repartition your computer. After VHD creation, you can mount or dismount and attach to virtual machines as additional hard drives.

My favorite feature is creating a VHD and then backing up your computer using a disk imaging tool such as Acronis to that specific VHD. I also like performing Physical to Virtual conversions (P2V). This allows me to bring my desktop with me during my travels as a virtual machine.

Let’s begin by opening the “Disk Management” console. Click “Start,” “My Computer,” and right-click and choose “Manage.” Select “Disk Management” and your disk configuration loads. Select “Action” from the toolbar and choose “Create VHD (Figure 1)”.

Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Figure 1.

Next, specify the location of your VHD and the size. You have the ability to create a fixed size VHD or one that expands as necessary until you run out of available space (Figure 2). Click “OK.”

Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Figure 2.

The new disk is created and you must initialize the disk by right-clicking on it and choosing “Initialize Disk (Figure 3).”

Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Figure 3

Select the Disk or Disks you want to initialize by ticking the appropriate box, as shown in Figure 4, and click “OK.” Please leave the default value of “MBR” unless you are using an Itanium based computer. For the purposes of this tutorial that would be one GIANT VHD. Basically, do not choose “GPT.”

Figure 4.

Now that both of your disks are initialized (Figure 5), you are ready to create your disk volumes.

Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Figure 5

Right-click on each Disk (Figure 6) you created and choose “New Simple Volume…” The wizard walks through assigning a drive letter, setting the size and formatting the drive for use. Repeat this process for all VHD’s created.

Figure 6

Your VHD virtual drives are now ready for use and show up as drives in “My Computer” (Figure7). You can drag and drop files or save documents, spreadsheets and videos as if they were physical drives.

Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Figure 7

Now that you can create a VHD, you also have the ability to detach and attach a VHD. Open the Disk Management console and right-click on the VHD disk and choose “Detach VHD (Figure 8 and 9).”

Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Figure 8.

Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Figure 9.

Note: If you want to permanently delete the VHD, choose “Delete the virtual hard disk file after removing the disk.” Click “OK” and the disk is removed from the disk configuration. Click “Action,” “Attach VHD” and specify the location (Figure 10) of your VHD and click “OK.” This reattaches your VHD.

Create and Mount a VHD in Windows 7

Figure 10

As you can see, Windows native support for VHD creation is powerful. The line is getting blurred with each release as to what is physical and what is virtual. I suspect at some point, we won’t be able to tell the difference.

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