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PIRATED 20130920 2335

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Native VHD boot enables a physical computer to be booted directly from a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) with no requirement for virtualization software (such as Microsoft Virtual PC or Hyper-V). Native VHD boot is made possible with the addition of a driver that is responsible for all I/O operations to and from the disk. Earlier versions of Windows (such as Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 2000) do not support native VHD boot, and therefore, you cannot use them to implement the functionality described in this document.

With the introduction of native VHD boot, it is possible to achieve a single image deployment strategy for both physical and virtual machines. As long as the operating system that resides on the VHD is generalized and hosts Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Ultimate, or Windows Server 2008 R2 (all editions), the VHD can be used in both environments.


The main goals for introducing native VHD boot are to:

  • Deploy a single image type in virtual and physical infrastructures.
  • Manage virtual and physical infrastructures by using a single set of tools.
  • Deploy operating systems to new computers in a rapid manner.
  • Enable computers to boot from more than one operating system (multiboot or dual-boot) without requiring separate partitions.


The following are limitations with native VHD boot in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2:

  • BitLocker --> Although you can place a VHD on a partition that is enabled with BitLocker Drive Encryption, it is not possible to boot from that VHD. Enabling BitLocker on the operating system within the VHD is also not a supported configuration.


  • Location of differencing VHDs --> When using differencing VHDs, all VHD files (the parent files and the differencing VHD itself) must be stored on the same partition.


  • Supported editions --> You can only use VHDs that contain Windows 7 Enterprise or Windows 7 Ultimate edition for native VHD boot. However, all editions of Windows Server 2008 R2 are supported.


  • Hibernation --> You cannot hibernate an operating system that runs on a VHD. However, sleep functionality is available.


  • The VHD file must be located on an NTFS drive.


  • Bootable VHD images cannot be compressed.


  • Windows Experience Index --> The Windows Experience Index cannot be calculated for VHDs that are configured for native boot because of the way disk performance is measured. This means some features, such as the Aero desktop experience, will not be automatically configured based on the index of the VHD’s operating system. However, you can use the Winsat command-line tool to manually configure these indexes, except for the index for the disk data transfer rate.


  • The maximum size of a VHD is 2 TB.

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  • Richard Mueller edited Revision 4. Comment: Removed (en-US) from title, added tag

  • Carsten Siemens edited Revision 5. Comment: Pirated Content - see my comment

  • OTE: This article was reported as Pirated/Plagiarized Content (content you didn't write) and will be removed. Please do not steal content from others. If you feel we are mistaken, please leave a comment or email tnwiki at Microsoft with a link to this article and with clear and detailed reasons why you own the content or have explicit permission from the author.

    Content was taken from: "Native VHD Boot: A Walkthrough of Common Scenarios"

    Published by Microsoft TechNet


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