ComTech: IT Support Stirling

Maybe running your old XP programs after April 2014 is not so easy after all

I have a client that is running a business critical piece of software on an old XP system.  I had a meeting with them last week about their transition to Windows 7 (they hate Windows 8) and the main point of contention is what happens to this software.  They would like to keep it running (the new subscription for the software is £800 per year so I don’t really blame them) so I suggested virtualizing the XP system and running it on the new Windows 7 system when required.  Sounds like a plan.

Virtualizing the system was pretty straight forward using VMWare P2V Converter and because I tend to use Oracle Virtualbox to run my virtual machines I had to tweak the settings a bit.

NOTE: If anyone is going to run a virtualized XP system on Virtualbox you need to set the IDE Controller as PIIX 4 or you will get blue screens when you try and boot.

Once the virtual machine started it was time to test it and this is when the problems started. The business critical software will not run inside a virtual machine!!  I have come across this with games inside a virtual machine but never commercial software before.  I am guessing it is due to copyright laws but whatever the reason it will not run fullstop.  Even Google couldn’t help on this one.

The clients only options are to run the old system (without internet access) on the network and use it only for this software or stump up the yearly subscription fees.

If you have a piece of XP software you need to keep going past April 2014 then I suggest you check if it can be run inside a virtual machine before you get a nasty surprise when it can’t.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter


Why virtualization is not just for the big guys

If you ever hear the word virtualization mentioned in a conversation I will bet that you will immediately think of big companies with hundreds , if not thousands of computers, and big data centers.  What if I told you your small business (with maybe only 1-10 employees) could also benefit from virtualization and that in fact it could make you run more efficient and not cost you any extra money.  I shall now explain how.

The basis of virtualization is very simple.  It is the ability to run multiple operating systems on the same physical hardware at the same time.  So for example you could run Windows XP and Windows 7 on the same computer or even Windows 7 running on a Linux system.  Now I  hear you cry “Why would I ever want to do such a thing?” Let me give you some examples.

Imagine a business owner who purchases a Mac for his business.  He intends to use it everyday but then releases that he still needs Windows to run some software.  Now by installing a piece of virtualization software from the likes of VMWare, Parallels or Oracle Virtualbox he will be able to run both Max OS X and Windows 7 at the same time on his system and switching between the two when he needs too.  He now has the best of both worlds.

Now take another business that runs a mission critical piece of software on Windows XP. They decide to upgrade all their machines in the office to Windows 7 and then realise that the business critical software only runs on XP.  What happens now? They can install a piece of software from VMWare called VMWare converter and convert their physical system into a virtual one!! Install VMWare onto their new Windows 7 system and then upload the ‘old’ XP system as a virtual machine.

So what are the benefits of virtualization then?

1. You can run any software you want on any system you like.

2. You are able to run multiple operating systems on the same hardware which in turn cuts down on hardware costs and also electricity costs too.

3. Very easy to backup your systems.  If the virtual machine becomes corrupt you just delete it and reload a backup copy.  Very fast and simple to recover your systems.

4. The software is free.  You can use VMWare Player, Oracle Virtualbox, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen Server or KVM.  The choice is yours!!

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter



What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a storage device or network resources. For example you can run a virtual Windows operating system within an actual Linux system, thereby giving you two working systems on one set of hardware.


  • Less hardware is required to run the same amount of software, therefore saving in hardware costs. You could happily run all your applications on one server while running four virtual servers inside it performing other roles.
  • Data recovery is simplified. If your virtual server becomes corrupted then you just delete it and restore from a virtual backup.
  • Allows you to test different software configurations on different platforms before you deploy it.
  • Reduces energy consumption.
  • Improved system reliability and security. Virtualization of systems helps prevent crashes due to memory corruption caused by software like device drivers.


  • Magnified physical failures. If your main hard drive (or raid configuration) containing all your physical and virtual data goes down you would have to restore all your servers (physical and virtual).
  • Virtualization requires more memory and processing power. This would need to be factored into any virtualization strategy.
  • Training. Administrators might not have the skills necessary to administer a virtual environment.
  • Complex troubleshooting when things don’t work. Is there a issue with the virtual machine or some other problem?

Virtual Software choices

There is a multitude of companies offering their own flavour of virtual software. The main ones are detailed below:


Oracle Virtualbox (ComTech uses this software for both our clients and our own systems)

Microsoft Hyper V

Citrix Xen Software

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter



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