Well some interesting overnight developments: Just to quickly answer some 3150 points: time didn't seem to be a factor, although I probably only ever gave it a couple of minutes to connect - perhaps longer might have worked. Autoconnect set to Off, so was manually dismounting the drive from OSX then telling Parallels to mount it. However, as 3170 came out overnight, I have 'upgraded' again. Still cannot fire up the Windows VM if I have an external drive plugged in (either NTFS or Fat32) mounted in OSX or not. If it is physically plugged in, the VM will not start. But - tried plugging it (the Maxtor) in after firing up the VM, and (after waiting a bit (thanks Atomic) , and plugging it in a couple of times), it actually mounted - fully. Access through My Computer and everything. Even Disk Manager can now see the drive. So we are closer. Not being able to boot the VM with any external drive plugged in is still ridiculous, and requires extra unnecessary steps, but we are closer. At least, for the first time, I can see my external harddrives without using Parallels Shared Folders. Whew.