Just a query -- Sandbox or multiple vhdx (physical) files


jimbo45

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Hi folks
Now that it's a doddle to create / update Windows installs on physical vhdx files -won't you get far better performance and an infinitely better testing scenario by using a full Windows install as a vhdx file. Then you can mess around with hardware etc etc - and if it all goes pearshaped simply copy a backup .vhdx file and start again. You don't even need any special backup software - simply save your vhdx files on any hdd / ssd - even external ones.
 

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cereberus

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Hi folks
Now that it's a doddle to create / update Windows installs on physical vhdx files -won't you get far better performance and an infinitely better testing scenario by using a full Windows install as a vhdx file. Then you can mess around with hardware etc etc - and if it all goes pearshaped simply copy a backup .vhdx file and start again. You don't even need any special backup software - simply save your vhdx files on any hdd / ssd - even external ones.
Well for sure use of native boot vhdx files is now great, especially for Insider versions, but one has to recognise that doing so does not ring fence (sandbox) you from the host OS, and there is a risk the host OS could get corrupted or infected, so as a minimum, the host OS should be backed up using Macrium Reflect or similar.

You are correct that no special software is needed to back up a vhdx file, but I sometimes use the Macriun Reflect Home File and Folder backup tool to backup my vhdx files simply to save space.
 

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jimbo45

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Well for sure use of native boot vhdx files is now great, especially for Insider versions, but one has to recognise that doing so does not ring fence (sandbox) you from the host OS, and there is a risk the host OS could get corrupted or infected, so as a minimum, the host OS should be backed up using Macrium Reflect or similar.

You are correct that no special software is needed to back up a vhdx file, but I sometimes use the Macriun Reflect Home File and Folder backup tool to backup my vhdx files simply to save space.
Hi there
You actually have to work quite hard at "Breaking" it.

Create one complete disk say with one EFI partition (plus optionally one unformatted msr one 128mb) with the rest of the disk having just VHDX1, VHDX2. VHDX3 files, Now define these vdisks as single ntfs formatted partions (single partitions no efi or boot partitions) ) and install windows to each via dism /Apply-Image and update the bootloader (bcdboot) for all these systems.

Then if you boot say OS "1" you will see "C" (windows running install -- i.e host OS) and a "D" drive which will show the various vhdx files.

If you try and delete the vhdx file you are actually running from then you'll get an error - file in use or equivalent. You can of course delete the other files - or even attach them as vdisks and then delete or muck about with the files within them but the actual "Host" OS itself is pretty secure.

You can break it in the normal way a user can "break" a classical windows OS by corrupting data etc but that's not specific to running Windows from vhdx files rather than the standard way.

The trick is not to do any standard "classical Windows install's" but to have the single boot EFI file and all the windows installs on vhdx files on the rest of the disk / space.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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cereberus

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Hi there
You actually have to work quite hard at "Breaking" it.

Create one complete disk say with one EFI partition (plus optionally one unformatted msr one 128mb) with the rest of the disk having just VHDX1, VHDX2. VHDX3 files, Now define these vdisks as single ntfs formatted partions (single partitions no efi or boot partitions) ) and install windows to each via dism /Apply-Image and update the bootloader (bcdboot) for all these systems.

Then if you boot say OS "1" you will see "C" (windows running install -- i.e host OS) and a "D" drive which will show the various vhdx files.

If you try and delete the vhdx file you are actually running from then you'll get an error - file in use or equivalent. You can of course delete the other files - or even attach them as vdisks and then delete or muck about with the files within them but the actual "Host" OS itself is pretty secure.

You can break it in the normal way a user can "break" a classical windows OS by corrupting data etc but that's not specific to running Windows from vhdx files rather than the standard way.

The trick is not to do any standard "classical Windows install's" but to have the single boot EFI file and all the windows installs on vhdx files on the rest of the disk / space.

Cheers
jimbo
Nope - you personally have to work hard maybe, but do not underestimate of people to mangle stuff inadvertently. Also who knows what damage can be caused by getting some malware.

I used to know a lass who had an uncanny ability to break software even by accident. She was the first person I asked to test things LOL.

My point is a native boot vhdx can access host drive and cause issues. Probability is low but not zero.
 
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jimbo45

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Nope - you personally have to work hard maybe, but do not underestimate of people to mangle stuff inadvertently. Also who knows what damage can be caused by getting some malware.

I used to know a lass who had an uncanny ability to break software even by accident. She was the first person I asked to test things LOL.

My point is and native boot vhdx can access host drive and cause issues. Probability is low but not zero.
Agreed - but I have a feeling that if people know how to manage using vhdx files then in theory they should be competant enough to avoid that issue --I agree with your point of course as "D" is essentially the Host drive and you get full access to it.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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jolly

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If you want to get crazy, force your main install and your vhdx install to have the same computer sid, then you can symlink most of your appData folders across both installs. Gives you a secondOs to play with, or optimize for different purposes, while still acting mostly like your main OS.
 

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cereberus

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If you want to get crazy, force your main install and your vhdx install to have the same computer sid, then you can symlink most of your appData folders across both installs. Gives you a secondOs to play with, or optimize for different purposes, while still acting mostly like your main OS.
Why wouldn't you just clone host OS to a vhdx file as I do?
 

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jimbo45

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Why wouldn't you just clone host OS to a vhdx file as I do?
Exactly -- takes just a few mins even on older hardware. !!!

Cheers
jimbo
 

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jolly

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Wanting to keep the application state synchronized between the different OS installs. Basically separating out OS vs App vs Data.
Some apps also limit the number of installs - whatsapp/signal for example.

Cloning your main OS is certainly the easiest way to match sids and get started.

Also helps save a bit of space, which is esp handy if you are doing this on a laptop.
 

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Bree

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You are correct that no special software is needed to back up a vhdx file, but I sometimes use the Macriun Reflect Home File and Folder backup tool to backup my vhdx files simply to save space.
In addition to my HDD backup drive, for my laptop that goes out and about with me I also like to have a bootable MR rescue USB with the latest image on it so I can do a restore 'in the field' if required.

That's OK for its W10 install, that only really changes each Patch Tuesday. But this machine also natively boots the 22621 RP build as a .vhdx. That changes frequently, sometimes twice in a week. So I exclude it from the MR image and back it up separately to the USB using 7-Zip. Fo a full restore I restore the W10 system image first, then use its installed 7-Zip to unzip the .vhdx.

As this USB is a standard Fat32 format, both MR and 7-Zip are set to make backup sets of as many 4GB files as required. I've done a restore or two by now, seems to work well.
 

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