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The Problem I Have with Parallels

The problem I have with Parallels is that it doesn't seem like I can just format an entire disk and install Windows on it - I have to install it onto a disk image.

Boot Camp, if I understand it correctly, can be used to install Windows on an entire drive. That's ideal - I intend to set aside a 250 GB drive in the Mac Pro to be the "Windows drive."

I like what Parallels seems to offer, but I probably won't spend the $80 if I have to create a disk image (as dumb a reason as that may sound).

8 Responses to "The Problem I Have with Parallels"

  1. They solve different problems. Parallels, and indeed pretty much any virtualization product uses disk image files. They provide portability, and fast restoration in the case of an error that you cannot get from a partition.

  2. Is making the disk image ~250GB and storing it on the separate disk not an attractive option?

  3. DeLynn, that's not an attractive option, no.

  4. Keep an eye on the VMWare workstation for Mac beta. I believe VMWare on other platforms can use either disk images or real drives so I would expect the Mac version to have such a feature as well..

  5. I have always seen the image as an advantage: no malware can currupt your hard disk, backing up can be done through the Finder with drag and drop, the image becomes only as large as it really needs to and does not waste any space from the Mac OS perspective.

    In fact, I seem to be unable to notice any disadvantage with it (apart from the fact that the virtualized Windows cannot be booted natively, but I would not want to do that anyway. However, I can see situations where one would want that (gaming, flashing a cell phone firmware etc.). Is there any other reason why one would _not_ want a disk image?

  6. Update: Apparently, that feature is coming. From their FAQ:

    Is it possible to access a physical partition or HDD from a Parallels Workstation 2.1 virtual machine?
    At the moment you can share the files or directories by means of primary OS via SMB or FTP and then access them from the Virtual Machine via the network. Direct mounting of the physical partitions into the Virtual Machine is in scope for future versions of Parallels Workstation.

  7. The problem with direct drive access is that the host OS may/will try to access the VM drive at some point. If said drive has partitions formated in a filesystem the host OS can read/write (as is the case with MacOS support for Windows filesystems) it will happily mount them. This will lead to corruption since you have now 2 operating systems writing directly to the drive at the same time. Even if the VM is suspended it will corrupt the partition the moment you resume it. If MacOS has some way to blacklist drives from automounting, then go for it.

  8. The other problem with Windows guest OS' is that NTFS filesystem support is not very robust for Linux or OS X so even if you could have Parallels run off another partition, it may not do much good as neither OS X nor Windows can read/write off the other partition without changing one to FAT32.