Configuring Windows XP to recognize a Parallels virtual hard disk

I recently researched and devised a solution for a Parallels Desktop for Mac user (let’s call him Jim) who wanted to store more data generated by his Windows XP applications but was short of available disk space on his C: drive. I originally thought I had solved the problem easily when I gave Jim instructions for creating a second, virtual hard disk via the Parallels Configuration Editor.

Parallels Configuration Editor

I was taken aback when Jim emailed and said he couldn’t see the secondary hard drive in Windows via My Computer:

“Okay, I did what you told me to do in Parallels Desktop and to edit the Virtual Machine and set up and add another drive. There is plenty of space on my MAC drive to do this (594 GB free). However, I cannot see the new drive in My Computer after I followed your instructions. The D drive is the dvd drive and the only other drive showing is the A or floppy drive.”

Neither the Parallels User Guide nor the online FAQs offered any clues as to why Windows fails to recognize a new drive created by the Parallels Configuration Editor. Perplexed, I posted a query on the Parallels Support Forum ( Before anyone else had a chance to submit a response, I uncovered the solution after experimenting with some of the configurable settings in the Windows Control Panel.

In a nutshell, I was able to activate Jim’s secondary drive by launching the Computer Management program in Administration Tools and initializing the virtual disk via the Action menu. Afterwards, Jim was able to launch My Computer and drag and drop files onto his new virtual drive which was assigned to drive E:.

For those who would like a detailed explanation of the process, I created a 5-page Acrobat PDF that can be downloaded from this How to Create a 2nd Virtual Hard Drive in Windows XP link.


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