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Switching from IDE to SATA controller types for older Windows guests in VirtualBox

May 7, 2011 1 comment
  • System Notes: Oracle VirtualBox 4.0.6, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003

I have been unable to find a decent source of material online that covers how exactly to switch from using IDE drive controllers to SATA drive controllers for older Windows guest systems under VirtualBox.  After much experimenting on my own guest systems, this is the way I have found that works:

  1. Create the guest system as you normally would, using the default IDE controller and a new VDI file for the hard drive.
  2. Install the operating system and get it up and running.
  3. Download the most recent Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers from the Intel web site.  Use the one appropriate for your operating system, whether 32 bit or 64 bit (Intel changes things regularly, but the most recent link I have for them is here).
  4. Make sure the new guest system is shut down.  Add a SATA drive controller to the Storage entry under the Settings for the new guest system in VirtualBox.
  5. Restart the new guest system, and do not install any drivers when prompted by Windows.  Run the installer for the Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers, and shut down the system after install.
  6. Under the Storage entry for the Settings of the new guest system in VirtualBox, remove the existing VDI hard drive file from the IDE storage controller, and re-attach it as a hard drive under the SATA storage controller.
  7. Restart the new guest system.

Additional Notes:

I verified this method works with Windows XP (32 bit), Windows Server 2003 (32 bit), and Windows Server 2003 R2 (both 32 and 64 bit) guest systems.  An Intel ICH8M-E/M controller should be indicated during the install of the Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers.  I have not retested performance on my systems after this conversion, but I have read elsewhere that it can make a big difference, especially to lower the resource draw on the host system itself.

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