Question About HD Partitions

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by SirBryanK, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. SirBryanK

    SirBryanK Bit poster

    I'm thinking about getting an iMac, but I wanted to find out how Parallels handles hard drive partitions before making the commitment. If I partition the internal hard drive, can I get Parallels to pull up the secondary partition the same way it does an external hard drive? Meaning, can I freely connect and disconnect the secondary partition as a device within the virtual machine.

    Thank you
  2. johnv

    johnv Parallels Team Parallels Team

    Dear Sir!

    Parallels virtual machine consists of the two main files: a PVS file (config. file) and a HDD file - virtual hard disk file. You can set up the virtual machine so that Windows will see the second hard drive (by means of Parallels Shared Folders). Also Parallels can boot Windows installed in the bootcamp partition. Please read the manual for more information.

    You can download the application here ( and get a free 15-day trial activation key.

    Best regards,
  3. itsdapead

    itsdapead Hunter

    Not exactly (...actually, I've put in a wish list entry for this!).

    Just to clarify - you probably knew this, but with Parallels there's no need to partition your hard drive at all - the virtual machine's hard drive is just a file under Mac OS.

    If the second partition is in a Mac-friendly format (i.e. Mac's own HFS or FAT) then you would access it via the "shared folders" facility which makes selected folders on your Mac show up as network shares in windows - and you *can* add and remove these freely (or map them to drive letters if that floats your boat). (PS - this only works in Windows, but you can get the same effect in Linux using Samba or NFS shares)

    So, that leaves the case where the second partition is in a non-Mac-friendly format. Typical case is NTFS, which Mac OS can read, but not write.

    You can connect physical partitions "directly" to the VM but it involves shutting down the VM, changing the config and re-starting the VM. In some cases this also involves changing the config file "by hand" with a text editor (but if you've just got a single drive with two partitions you may be in luck). Doing this also has some disadvantages c.f. a "pure virtual" set up - e.g. you can't use the suspend facility and have to supply your password every time you start the VM (to get direct access to the drive).

    However, the good news is that Parallels V3 onwards has a natty feature whereby, while a Windows VM is running, all its mounted discs simultaneously turn up on the Mac desktop (including full read/write access to NTFS) - so you don't need to disconnect them from the VM to access them from the Mac. (There's also a tool for browsing virtual hard drives without starting the VM, but I haven't got this to work from a physical partition yet)

    To summarise - if your second partition is in Mac (HFS) format this is a non-issue - just use shared folders. If its going to be NTFS (or Ext3) then consider whether you really need a partition, since a virtual HD is more convenient in many ways.

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