Nonessential Tech Tip: How to preserve and use your 15 year old Windows XP Operating System properly?
One of my father’s friends were complaining about his PC not working properly, it is very old and such, and he was using it before he retired several years ago. He explained to me how he needs to access some of the files inside that PC, which are made in a software called FileMaker Pro. (Initial Release of this program was 35 years ago). Well, it seems easy right? Fire it up, copy paste all the files to his new MB-Pro and acquire an updated version of FileMaker software for him to access his old files.
No. I needed to make this one a little bit more complicated because it is not my style. I asked him ‘Would you like to use your old Win-XP environment as it is, in your MB-Pro like nothing changed in past couple of years?’ and he was hyped. And I was not going to spent my time to find a copy, version, etc of the FileMaker so it was a win-win.
Initial plan was to:
- Take out the HDD and connect it to my main computer,
- Somehow create a .vdi from that HDD. (After a while I found the Disk2vhd which runs on Win7–10)
- Boot a VM with it.
This was a really, how to express, abstract plan tbh. It was not 3 steps…
Every superhero has its equivalently powerful enemy and every Problem I experience requires a little bit of Luck:
Here comes the problem#1 with the initial plan’s first step, how to connect the HDD?
My main computer has no IDE connection on its motherboard. So I bought an IDE to SATA converter, waited for it to arrive and connected the old HDD to my main computer, right?
Wrong! I had my 11 years old Asus P6T motherboard, which luckily#1 has an IDE connection on it , and a first gen intel i7 sitting in its slot and working properly.
That pc only required, problem#2, a bootable Windows drive, to run the Disk2Vhd program since pc with the IDE connection has Ubuntu installed on its small 120GB ssd. Luckily#2, I always have a Windows to Go disk around.
Problem#3, what does Windows to Go require to boot on a 11 year old motherboard? UEFI.
This forced me to remove the boot drive of the main computer and ditch the idea of use my Win2Go disk to copy the old WinXP.
Luckily#3 that one had Windows 10 on it. (If you were to count, this process involved 3 hard disks and two computers already.) So, disconnected the SSD caddy from the main computer and booted the 11 years old PC with an ~20 year old HDD attached to it.
I started copying the disk with Disk2VHD, prepared the image but, problem#4, it was not booting in VM. It is legendary for me to find some relevant info in the help document of any SW that I use, instead of googling it.
I was not going to risk more.
At that point I had already spent 6 hours of labour and I needed to solve it fast because I was running out of patience.
Luckily#4, I’ve had another laptop, which is provided by the company, and it was available for the operation. In order to ditch the possibility of ‘Do not attach the VHDs on the same system blah blah blah’ portion of possible two reasons declared in the help document of Disk2VHD, I’ve copied the necessary files but, problem#5, it was not booting. I assumed it was the drivers issue.
Believe it or not 😃, luckily#5, I had a disk image of an original copy of Windows XP and a copy of a floppy disk file which is required for the Windows XP repair. I’ve added them to the VM from the settings->drives (and don’t forget to select the correct interfaces) and started repairing the old XP image which is inside a .vhd file, which is created from a ~20 years old hdd, with an 11 year old computer, running the latest version of Windows 10…
Here Is the Result:
During this process, I’ve learned about:
- IDE to SATA converters exists
- UEFI requires more memory on motherboard than the legacy BIOS
- Not only disk but you can also save your VM as it is (.ova file) and that file can be moved b/w PCs without any dependency to the disk images and paths of those etc.
and the most valuable take out is:
Old computers are old, let them rot in a corner of your house, OR E-Recycle them, which is a far better option to both environment and your mental health.
Thanks for reading.