The most important thing about being a geek is being able to do that what others normally can’t. Of course, you have to severely obsess over a certain field/class-of-activities to qualify as a “geek”. There are those of us who want to openly display their knowledge while others decide to subtly indicate their expertise without revealing the secrets in their discoveries – if you don’t get it you’re not one of us. The concept of VHDs is one such thing ought to be known by now. It is a great concept for all geeks alike.
VHD is short for virtual hard-disk and in the simplest of words, it is a file that acts like a common physical storage unit – a hard drive. The working of a VHD is quite simple actually. If you’re familiar with ISO files, you’d know that they behave exactly like a compact disk – maybe a standard 700MiB CD or a high capacity disk like single and dual layer DVDs. ISO files can very nicely be used to carry “images” of CDs and they can either be mounted directly on a host computer or be burnt into blank discs and physically distributed. VHD is like that except when mounted they behave like hard-disks.
The advantages of VHDs over ISOs are that VHDs are both readable and writable while ISOs once created are only readable. ISOs have to be created using special software that doesn’t let you access its contents until the whole ISO file is written. VHDs have no such requirements. Once a VHD is created, adding, removing and reading files are as easy as it is on a flash drive. Technically, a VHD is your hard-disk if notepad.exe was your notepad.
Windows has been using the VHD format to store backup images of files if the native BackUp feature is used. In case of virtualisation, VHDs were used to act as physical hard-disks of virtual systems. So, you know the hard-disk is virtual but the virtualised system didn’t. With Windows 7, it became easier for the end user to use VHDs in whatever ways the user wanted – the only hitch being the creation of VHDs required one to have a curiosity of command lines.
We’ve got this all figured out for you. You can now create a VHD on your Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC by following this tutorial I wrote up about a year ago. The tools for this awesome concept has always been present on your PC – it was only the question of using it.
Once that is done, you can use a VHD to store secret files you don’t want to provide access to – with your new found knowledge of VHDs. OR you can simply just show people you have massive storage space on your PC that isn’t really there and have them fooled by adding and removing small files from the VHD. The possibilities are endless.