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VIRTUAL PC

SPEED UP VIRTUAL PC

The Annoyance:

At first, Virtual PC seemed truly miraculous-it actually lets me run Windows XP on my Mac. Wow! Well, that just turned out to be a theoretical "wow," because my copy of Virtual PC 6 is really too slow to do anything wow-ish with.

The Fix:

Virtual PC has had a tough time since Mac OS X came along. In Mac OS 9, Virtual PC could grab hold of almost all of the Mac's processing power-something Mac OS X just won't allow. In addition, several upgrades to Mac OS X make Virtual PC run slower. There are also certain programs, such as some of the features of Norton AntiVirus, that cause Virtual PC to run very slowly. With Version 7, Microsoft optimized Virtual PC for Mac OS X and made the graphics snappier. But even Virtual PC 7 can benefit from these time-tested methods of speeding up Virtual PC:

  • Run Windows 2000. This is the fastest version of Windows to run on Virtual PC. (Windows NT is also good, but it's a bit old.) Older versions of Windows have performance problems, because they are not fully 32-bit operating systems. Windows XP runs slower than Windows 2000, because the Windows XP interface is more graphics intensive. Windows 2000 is completely 32-bit, but it doesn't have the overhead of Windows XP.

  • Buy more RAM. You need enough memory to simultaneously run two operating systems and run Virtual PC at the same time. No matter what Apple and Microsoft say, you need a minimum of 512 MB in a Mac to run Virtual PC. More is definitely better.

  • Allocate at least 256 MB RAM to Windows. When you launch Virtual PC, select your copy of Windows in the Virtual PC List window, and then click the Settings button. In the Settings window, click on PC Memory. You can use the slider bar to adjust the amount of RAM for Windows.

  • Make sure your Mac is fast enough. Take the minimum processor requirements for Virtual PC very seriously. Processor speed is a huge factor in making everything run smoothly.

  • Disable Norton Antivirus Auto-Protect. Not everyone with Norton Antivirus has a problem with Virtual PC, but many people have found that it can bring Virtual PC to a screeching halt. If you have Norton Antivirus installed, you can turn off the Auto-Protect feature in System Preferences.

  • Don't run other Mac software-at least, not while you're running Virtual PC. You want to give as much of the Mac's processor to Virtual PC.

  • Don't run Classic mode. The Classic environment takes a big chunk of your Mac's processor power. Before you start Virtual PC, go the System Preferences and make sure Classic isn't running.

  • Place Virtual PC's virtual drive image file on another hard disk. This can be an external FireWire drive or a second internal drive.

  • Turn off VPC Networking. If you aren't networking or accessing the Internet from Windows, you may see some speed gains by shutting off the network in Virtual PC's Settings dialog. (Click Networking and uncheck "Enable Networking.")

GET INFO

I run a web site called MacWindows, which is devoted to helping people with Mac/Windows integration problems. Here, you'll find several pages that describe Virtual PC problems and solutions. For Virtual PC 6, point your browser at http://www.macwindows.com/VPC6.html. For other versions of Virtual PC, change the 6 in the web address to 3, 4, 5, or 7 respectively.


RUN VIRTUAL PC RUNNING ON A G5

The Annoyance:

My copy of Virtual PC doesn't work with my brand spankin' new iMac G5. The very same copy runs just fine on my PowerBook G4. What gives?

The Fix:

In order to run Virtual PC on any Mac with a G5 processor, you need Virtual PC 7 or later. All previous versions are incompatible with Macs with G5 processors. There's no working around this except to upgrade.

LOCATE THE VPC 5.0.4 UPDATE

The Annoyance:

I've been happily running Virtual PC 5 for many a year. Recently, I had a problem with my hard drive, which I had to reformat. I reinstalled Virtual PC 5 from the CD, but I don't have the 5.0.4 update, which fixed a bunch of bugs. Microsoft offers upgrades to other old applications on its web site, but doesn't offer the Virtual PC 5.0.4 update. Do those misers at Microsoft want me to pay for a later version?

The Fix:

Microsoft doesn't offer the 5.0.4 upgrade because they don't own Version 5; they bought Version 6 only. Unfortunately, there is no official source for this important 5.0.4 update. When Connectix was around, it offered the 5.0.4 update at its web site. Connectix shut down it's web site several months after it sold Virtual PC 6 to Microsoft, only offers updates to version 6 and later.

You can find unofficial sources of the 5.0.4 update posted on web sites by individual users who feel they are doing a public service. These sites often aren't up for long, so I can't quote any URLs here. Google is a good way to locate the update using the term "Virtual PC 5.0.4 Update." You're likely to locate a copy. You can also visit a page on my web site, http://www.macwindows.com/VPC5.html, where I try to keep currently active links to the 5.0.4 update.

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