Using VHDMount under Windows XP

Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1 beta 2 includes a utility to mount virtual hard disks on your physical computer – called VHDMount.  However there are some issues using VHDMount on Windows XP:

  1. It is not possible to use ‘/m’ (Mount), you can only use ‘/p’ (Plug in).

    The reason for this is that VHDMount uses VDS (the Virtual Disk Service) to assign a disk letter to the virtual hard disk after it is mounted, but VDS is only included in Windows Server 2003 and later.  This is not too big of an issue though, as unlike Windows Server 2003, Windows XP will automatically mount the virtual hard disk when it is plugged in.  This means that the only functionality you lose on Windows XP is the ability to specify exactly which drive letter should be used.

  2. Windows XP claims that there is a problem initializing the device.

    The reason why this happens is because Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1 beta 2 uses an unsigned driver for the virtual hard disk mounting tool (I do not know why this does not cause a problem on Windows Server 2003, count your blessings I guess). 

    To get around this you need to plug in the virtual hard disk using VHDMount and open the Windows device manager (I usually do this by right clicking on ‘My Computer’, selecting ‘Manage’, and clicking on ‘Device Manager’).  You should see a ‘Microsoft Virtual Server Storage Device’ with an exclamation mark over its icon.  Right click on it and select ‘Update Driver…’.  In the hardware update wizard select to ‘Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)’ and then select ‘Don’t search.  I will choose the driver to install.’.  Finally select the ‘Microsoft Virtual Server Storage Devices’ driver and finish the wizard.  The virtual hard disk should now be mounted. 

    Unfortunately you have to go through this process *every time* that you plug a virtual hard disk in, even if it has been mounted before.

Never fear – this second issue will be resolved in the final release when the driver is going to be officially signed.