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Use Registry Cleaner and/ or Disk Defragmenter in XP Mode? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am a new user of XP Mode.  In the 'real' Window XP Pro, I kept the OS in peak shape by using a registry cleaner (Macecraft jv16 PowerTools), a disk defragmenter (Diskeeper Pro), and a disk cleaner (CCleaner).  Would it be appropriate to install and use any of the aforementioned utilities in XP Mode on Windows 7 Pro?  Or would those utilities be unnecessary or cause problems?  Please enlighten me.  And I thank all who take the time to provide advice.
    Preston Mitchell
    Monday, May 30, 2011 7:08 AM

Answers

  • Correct.   Since the full amount required for the vhd has already been allocated for a fixed-sized vhd, its consumption of the host filespace does not grow as the defragmenter works. 

    The problem with vhd's and host filespace is that while WVPC can request additional space from the host file system it has no way to release unused space back to the host.  That is why dyanamically-expanding disks require compaction from time to time in order to release the "bloat" back to the host.  The advantage of dyanmic disks of course is that they commonly require far less filespace than fixed disks.  Other than that, fixed-disks are simpler to maintain and probably perform a little faster.  I have 5 TB on my primary computer so I use fixed-disks for my utility vms and dynamic disks for my test vms. 

    XP Mode uses a differencing disk so it is a little different but frequent use of disk utilities will bloat it up like dynamic disks.  Remember that the bloat is only apparent on the host, not within the guest itself.  It is important not to relocate the XP Mode vhd because that will break the link between the parent and child disks.  What you downloaded was the parent vhd.  What you have done since then is contained in the child vhd. 

    A good reference for the disk types is at (shortened)

    http://bit.ly/jozQRx


    Colin Barnhorst Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on DIY with 6GB ram.

    • Proposed as answer by Arthur Xie Wednesday, June 1, 2011 8:28 AM
    • Marked as answer by ThePreston Tuesday, June 7, 2011 5:11 AM
    Monday, May 30, 2011 11:06 PM
  • You're welcome. 

    Don't be afraid of using XP Mode as much as you need to.  It is just that defragmentation is handled at the time of compaction rather than as ongoing maintenance.  Compaction is only needed occasionally for most vm's.  You can read about compaction in the VPC Help files.  Access VPC Help from within a running vm by clicking on the blue question mark in the upper right of the Window.  Select the Search Tab and enter "compacting" and the click on Display.


    Colin Barnhorst Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on DIY with 6GB ram.
    • Marked as answer by ThePreston Tuesday, June 7, 2011 6:02 AM
    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 5:42 AM

All replies

  • No.  In fact I don't know why you would use one on the host either.  Left over registry entries are from installations and such and are benign.  The risks of cleaner errors is not worth messing with the registry.  Only correct it if you have been directed to do so.  Cleaning the registry was popularized during Windows 95 days when hard drive space was scarce and compacting the registry could save a few kilobytes.  A few kilobytes on today's terrabyte drives makes no difference at all.  Please stay away from cleaners.

    Also, if you are using dynamically expanding disks you should minimize writing to the drive because WVPC requests new space allocations from the host everytime you do things like clean a registry or defragment the drive as well as normal read/write activity.  That is what causes the vhd file to grow on the host. 


    Colin Barnhorst Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on DIY with 6GB ram.
    Monday, May 30, 2011 11:46 AM
  • First of all, thank you for your reply and your insights.

    I would beg to differ with advice regarding registry cleaners.  An effective, well-built registry cleaner is a very useful--even vital--tool for specific situations, especially in the case of a very bad software installation.  Today I had a mishap after which a registry cleaner saved my butt. 

    As part of the fun associated with upgrading from Win XP Pro 32-bit to Win 7 Pro 64-bit, I am discovering what Win XP and Win 7 32-bit application software won't work.  (Too many software vendors don't provide that info...or simply provide inaccurate compatibility specs.)  I installed a Powerpoint plug-in that converts PPT directly to SWF files.  That plug-in worked will in XP...and the vendor assured me it was Windows 7 compatible.  Ha, ha, not only did the plug-in fail to work properly but it also knocked out my Adobe PPT plug-ins.  A normal uninstall eliminated the bad PPT plug-in but the Adobe plug-ins were still corrupted.  WORSE YET, the repair function and even an uninstall-reinstall of the Adobe products failed to restore them as working PPT plug-ins.  Adobe software is so very temperamental.  THE PROBLEM WAS caused by remnants of the PPT to SWF plug-in left behind in the registry.  Using Macecraft's registry cleaner (original version invented for Windows 95), the nefarious registry remnants were eradicated....and--EUREKA--the Adobe plug-ins finally worked.  SO, I will keep a solid registry cleaner in my toolbox.

    THANK YOU for your information regarding dynamically expanding disks...and about what causes the vhd file to expand....that was a valuable insight! 

    UNFORTUNATELY, I am still left in the dark as to whether or not a registry cleaner, disk defragmenter, or disk cleaner would be harmful if used in XP Mode (aside from growing the vhd file).  ALSO, would the XP Mode virtual disk even need defragging as a physical mechanical hard drive does? 

    SADLY, Microsoft does not seem to provide info on the technical fine points of XP Mode to the general user.  Heck, MSFT's own tech support folks in India know little about the workings of XP Mode (which is why I am posting on this forum).


    Preston Mitchell
    Monday, May 30, 2011 9:58 PM
  • There is nothing to be in the dark about.  Skip the disk utilities when using dynamically expanding virtual hard drives.  They just add to the maintenance load.  The defragmenter is a required part of compacting a vhd but if used on a regular schedule it just increases the size of the vhd file on the host.  Other than compacting the vhd when it has grown too large, leave vhd's alone.  The only type of drive I would do any scheduled defragmenting on is a fixed-sized vhd.  I leave dyanamically expanding and differencing disks alone.
    Colin Barnhorst Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on DIY with 6GB ram.
    • Proposed as answer by Arthur Xie Wednesday, June 1, 2011 8:28 AM
    Monday, May 30, 2011 10:22 PM
  • OK, thank you again....especially for a more definitive answer regarding use of a disk defragger. 

    If I understand you correctly, I should not use a disk defragger if my XP Mode has a dynamically expanding virtual hard drive.  BUT if I have a fixed-sized vhd, then use of a disk defragger in XP Mode might be beneficial.  Did I understand you correctly?

    May ask the Newbie Question of the Day?

    How do I know whether my XP Mode is using a dynamically expanding disk or a fixed-size?  I simply downloaded XP Mode and did a typical install.  I didn't notice the installation process telling me which 'form' was installed. 

    Again, many thanks!


    Preston Mitchell
    Monday, May 30, 2011 10:51 PM
  • Correct.   Since the full amount required for the vhd has already been allocated for a fixed-sized vhd, its consumption of the host filespace does not grow as the defragmenter works. 

    The problem with vhd's and host filespace is that while WVPC can request additional space from the host file system it has no way to release unused space back to the host.  That is why dyanamically-expanding disks require compaction from time to time in order to release the "bloat" back to the host.  The advantage of dyanmic disks of course is that they commonly require far less filespace than fixed disks.  Other than that, fixed-disks are simpler to maintain and probably perform a little faster.  I have 5 TB on my primary computer so I use fixed-disks for my utility vms and dynamic disks for my test vms. 

    XP Mode uses a differencing disk so it is a little different but frequent use of disk utilities will bloat it up like dynamic disks.  Remember that the bloat is only apparent on the host, not within the guest itself.  It is important not to relocate the XP Mode vhd because that will break the link between the parent and child disks.  What you downloaded was the parent vhd.  What you have done since then is contained in the child vhd. 

    A good reference for the disk types is at (shortened)

    http://bit.ly/jozQRx


    Colin Barnhorst Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on DIY with 6GB ram.

    • Proposed as answer by Arthur Xie Wednesday, June 1, 2011 8:28 AM
    • Marked as answer by ThePreston Tuesday, June 7, 2011 5:11 AM
    Monday, May 30, 2011 11:06 PM
  • >How do I know whether my XP Mode is using a dynamically expanding disk or a fixed-size?  I simply downloaded XP Mode and did a typical install.  I didn't notice the installation process telling me which 'form' was installed. 
     
    Unless you created the XP Mode setup yourself, the default way that it
    runs is using differencing disks.  (You have one base VHD, and another
    VHD that contains all the changes that have been made since the base
    was created.)
     
     

    Bob Comer - Microsoft MVP Virtual Machine
    • Proposed as answer by Arthur Xie Wednesday, June 1, 2011 8:28 AM
    Monday, May 30, 2011 11:15 PM
  • Cbarnhorst,

    You deserve the first-place trophy for offering the best answers.  Thank you very much!   Also, thank you for the link to the article explaining the differences between the 3 types of virtual disks.  I had no clue that XP Mode uses a 'differencing disk'.

    I installed XP Mode for the sole purpose of using four 32-bit applications that do not work properly in Windows 7 64-bit.  Those applications will probably get used less and less as time goes by...therefore, defragmentation may not become an issue....or rather not serious enough to risk expanding the virtual disk (from defragging).  In fact, the intricacies of properly dealing with 'VHDs', 'virtual disks', and etc would encourage me to use XP Mode as little as possible....which presents a grand irony.  

    If XP Mode was indeed invented to benefit the 'typical' business user, I think Microsoft failed....by concocting a elaborate maze that contravenes the fundamental principle of KISS (Keep It Simple for the Stupid).

    Anyway.

    Again, thank you for very erudite answers.


    Preston Mitchell
    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 5:26 AM
  • Mr. Comer,

    Thank you for your contribution to my education about XP Mode.  Indeed, much appreciated.

    Preston Mitchell

    XP Mode Noob


    Preston Mitchell
    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 5:28 AM
  • You're welcome. 

    Don't be afraid of using XP Mode as much as you need to.  It is just that defragmentation is handled at the time of compaction rather than as ongoing maintenance.  Compaction is only needed occasionally for most vm's.  You can read about compaction in the VPC Help files.  Access VPC Help from within a running vm by clicking on the blue question mark in the upper right of the Window.  Select the Search Tab and enter "compacting" and the click on Display.


    Colin Barnhorst Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on DIY with 6GB ram.
    • Marked as answer by ThePreston Tuesday, June 7, 2011 6:02 AM
    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 5:42 AM
  • I must offer you more kudos....especially for your latest and most illuminating info--'defragmentation is handled at the time of compaction rather than as ongoing maintenance'.  Not something the ordinary user encounters in the 'real' world of physical hard drives...but defragmentation thru compaction makes sense in relation to a virtual disk.  AND thank you for directing me to where I can find 'help' info.  Previously, I overlooked the blue question mark. 

    Anyway. You and Bob Comer provided much more info than I could discover from Microsoft. 

    Thank you again,

    Preston


    Preston Mitchell
    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 6:11 AM