If you decided to back up your files/data, did you consider VHD or virtual hard drive? It’s been years when the IT professionals used Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) in server applications and virtual machines, however, you can also use them freely with few clicks for backup format by the use of the tools in Windows.
First off, VHD is a big file container that can copies the hard drive of the file structure. It would be easy to think of it as a ZIP file, although there would be no compression involved. For VHDs in reality are single files which can handle and replicate backups made-easy. They can be easily restored and compatible on cross application or platform.
When on the hard drive, a VHD is likely any other file, thus, you need to be sure you have room to accommodate it. When archiving the files to VHD, you can move the file to another media, such as an external drive.
The VHD format is recognizable by several programs which is ready to use for OS X, Windows and Linux. It is accessible through the internet, local network, the SMB protocol or removable media. In case it is attached into the system, the VHDs will act like a USB or external hard drives.
Using VHD (Virtual Hard Drives)
Once you made and attached a VHD file, you can begin to back-up using any method you want, it may use the general copy/paste method or the favorite backup program you have. In anyway, using a simple backup utility will be fine, no compression needed.
The ability of VHD to browse and restore files easily, using only its operating system is its main advantage.
How to Create a VHD file
On Windows, it defaults VHDs as “fixed-size”. These types are quicker to process and not prone to be damaged from power shortage, although it can take a space from your actual disk space. You’ll notice that in the dialog says GB (gigabyte), thus on Windows the default is on MB or megabytes.
Steps in Creating VHD File:
• Open the Device Manager or press the Windows key and the S key (for Windows 7, click Start button), and type “diskmgmt.msc” (this will access the Windows’ disk management features.)
• Open the Action menu, and then choose Create VHD. A dialog box will be displayed for you to name the VHD file, select the location, set its size and select the format.
The VHD file can be fixed in size or it can also begin as a small to expand if necessary (expand dynamically). If you choose to set is as a fixed size, this can be a bit quicker and a bit stronger on power interruption. While the option for dynamically expanding can save you enough space, if you need it.
The storage space use of backup files is filled fast, so if this will be the case, it is advisable to use the VHDs’ dynamically expanding.
Take note that the default is in megabytes, this setting will is good enough for saving text files, otherwise you can change it to gigabytes or terabytes.
The limit of VHD file is up to 2.2 TB. When you are planning to use the Virtual PC of 2007, it is important to know that the Virtual PC has the limitation usage of VHD files up to 127 GB.
For file management, it is recommendable to choose meaningful file names. Using simple names for partition (when backing up) may get confusing. Combining names of the drive or the name of the partition you’re backing up along with the date, can make give a quick idea about the content of the file (less confusing).
When the VHD is created, attaching on the system is done automatically.
Now, Right-Click the VHD, then click the DISK 2, a pull down window will open, choose Initialize Disk.
Next, select the MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table) and let it process the initialization. Except if you have a specific thought to use, the MBR and GPT can work equally.
Now, right-click the device name, for the initialization of VHD.
On the right part where you can see “unallocated” right-click this, and then choose the New Simple Volume, next, follow the wizard to “create and format a partition”.
When the VHD’s initialization is done, the next thing to do is to create and format a partition.
To check the volume you have created, check Windows Explorer. Handle this just like any other disk drive.
The first thing to remember, when attaching on VHD to restore files, you need to set up as Read-Only (this will eliminate accidental deletions).
• Open the Device Manager, then choose Disk Management (or you can type “diskmgmt.msc”)
• Now, open the Action menu, then choose Attach VHD.
• Browse to the VHD files to attach and choose. In case you are restoring from a backup, secure by checking the Read-Only (to prevent unwanted deletion).
Commonly, it will be saved automatically to the default drive you assigned. If this doesn’t happen, right-click the partition of the Drive Manager and then, choose a Change drive letter and paths.
Take precaution not to delete any file with “.VHD”, when you are detaching it. When you’re done using VHD, you can detach it. This will save memory and avoid accidents.
• Open the Device Manager and go to the Disk Management.
• Right-click the drive header, and then, choose Detach VHD.
Take Note: The option “Delete the virtual hard disk file after removing the disk”, note that it is deselected by default. This option is in the same location as the “read-only” option when attaching a VHD. Take precaution on the selection you choose.
The Use of VHD for Recovery
VHD works best with backups when you are trying to restore a large hard drive, the same hard drive, or with the same hard drive. For any kind of situations, the Windows System Restore can work effectively.
Whenever you select VHD for your backup format, remember the pros and cons of the format. This way you’ll be ready for a backup solution at the same time effortless method to move the files around.
Now, if you’re working to restore to a smaller drive, often when users go from hard drives to SSDs, risk can happen. You need to understand that the Windows restoration routine is not capable to set for a location on some files, due to the limits of the new drive.