Virtual hard drive: how to make one in Windows

In more recent versions of Windows, you are able to create a Virtual Hard Drive(VHD). These are simply hard drives that doesn’t truly exist physically. All data is stored in a single file. Particularly this file can be used inside Virtual Machines to add additional storage or another “Hard Drive” to your current Windows system.

Virtual hard drive Format

When it comes to creating your VHD, you can make it in 2 different formats:

VHD

One is the standard VHD, which supports up to 2 TB in size maximum. While this may seem ideal, you might risk losing your data stored in the event of a power outage or computer failure.

VHDX

Another format is VHDX, this particular format allows for a storage maximum of more than 2 TB, with a maximum of a whopping 64 TB. Not only that, it also has protections in place in the event of failure so that your data will never become lost. The only downside is that this file format will only work in Windows 8 and up.

Dual booting

With a VHD, you are able to to install another copy of Windows to a secondary drive. This allows you to choose between which version of Windows that you would like to start upon booting your computer.

Virtual Hard Drive Configuration

In order to create our VHD, we are going to need to navigate to “Disk Management”. To get there, right-click on the Start Menu and click on it right above “Computer Management”.

This is where you can configure unused hard disks that have been recently added to your computer. You are also able to format and create drive volumes. To create our new VHD, go to the “Action” menu and click on “Create VHD”.

Here, you will define options for VHD creation. Under location, click on “Browse…” and select a location where you will be placing your file. This is where all data will be stored and retrieved at startup. Under “Virtual hard disk format”, we are going to select “VHDX”. You will notice “Virtual hard disk type” switching to “Dynamically expanding”. This is better because you don’t want your VHD file consuming physical hard drive space beforehand(Fixed size).

Don’t forget to define a “Virtual hard disk size”, here I will be putting in 500 MB. Click “OK” when you’re done.

You will notice that a new disk has been created under your primary disk. It has yet to be Initialized and allocated. We will need to do those next before readying our VHD for actual use.

Right-click where it says “Disk 1″(may be named differently on your PC depending on available drives) and select “Initialize Disk”.

By default, we will be doing a “MBR (Master Boot Record)” for our disk to ensure better compatibility in case you decide to move your VHD file to another computer. Click “OK” to continue.

Your disk should now be online and functional. Now it is time to assign a volume so that it can be accessible in Windows under “This PC”.

Right-click where it says “Unallocated” and click on “New Simple Volume…”

You are now taken to a wizard. Click “Next >” to continue.

You will now define the storage size of your volume, which has already been set for you by default. Click “Next >”.

Here, you can assign a drive letter to your new volume. It is recommended that you do this for simplicity’s sake. Feel free to give it any letter you want other than “C”. *wink* *wink*

Click “Next >”.

It is best to format this drive now as “NTFS” for the file system. Leave the “Allocation unit size” as default. Put in any name you like for “Volume label”. “Perform a quick format” should be checked only. Click “Next >” once more.

Confirm the following configuration options for your new volume and click “Finish” if you’re satisfied.

Your volume will be created and formatted. A new window should open up containing the root directory of your new VHD. You can also access this drive now via “This PC” in File Explorer right next to your “C:\” drive.

Later on you can detach your VHD by going to your disk in Disk Management, right-click, and select “Detach VHD”. You can then click “OK” to confirm. You can then attach it by going to the “Action” menu and clicking on “Attach VHD”. Find the file to your VHD and select it, and click “OK”. Your VHD will be attached with all the contents of your drive having remained inside.