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Easily increase your VirtualBox VDI size

20 05 2009


I started out with a 10Gb virtual disk and easily filled it.

I put off the task of reinstalling, because I really didn’t want to talk to the off-shore guy at Microsoft.

Today, I finally researched the problem and made a commitment to increasing my disk space.

I followed GusGan’s idea, and can confirm, that the solution really is two lines of text simple.

(follow this VirtualBox forums discussion)

This applies to all VirtualBox Install 2.0 and up

Create a new Virtual Machine in VirtualBox. Make sure that you set hit General -> Advanced and duplicate your original machine’s settings here. For me, the key was setting the IDE controller type to PIIX3. In fact it was CRUCIAL (Blue Screen of Death CRUCIAL).

Next, I went to my Original machine and added the new drive as primary slave (Hard Disks -> + )

Boot the old machine, load FireFox, and download Acronis Easy Migrate 15 day trial (Hint: This is buy-able good just as a backup utility. You can send your backups to an external USB disk, then swap disks if you have a failure. Once a week runs are all most people need.). I did try TrueImage, but it locked consistently.

Run Easy Migrate. Next, Next, Next, Reboot and that’s about it.

Boot your new expanded drive, and when happy, delete your old cramped virtual machine.

I can tell you, from experience, that the PIIX3/4 setting will frustrate you to anger, tears and finally drink. Don’t overlook it.

categories Published under: Announcements

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This post was written on the Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 at 6:19 pm and categorized under Announcements. You can follow the ongoing discussion by subscribing to the RSS 2.0. You can leave a reply, or Trackback.

33 comments so far

  1. Ajay wrote on 29. June 2009 at 6:54 am o'clock                  

    Thanks a bunch for this easy guide! I was able to add some more space to my clogged c: after reading your article.


  2. Olaf wrote on 09. October 2009 at 8:59 am o'clock                  

    Increase disk size of NTFS formatted boot disk (incl master boot record) with linux guest (Ubuntu live-CD) and NO additional software (work or any other file format, too)
    This is not to confuse anybody but my version of gparted (although fairly new) does not deal with NTFS safely:
    When I invoked gparted (see link to discussion in comment above) to copy one partition to another virtual disk from inside a Linux guest, it offered me DOS format or any of the common Linux/Unix file system formats. That scared me away! Here’s a workaround (worked well for me):
    Let Gparted tell you the device name of the VDI that it sees (the old cramped virtual HD and the new virgin virtual HD) – just click yourself through the devices – but then DON’T use gparted fr copying!
    Typically the names are /dev/sda and /dev/sdb or /dev/hda and /dev/hdb
    Then, from a commandline (this is the only catch – but don’t be afraid it yon’t bite you), issue command (from Ubuntu guest): sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=1M
    where /dev/sda is the old and /dev/sdb is the new disk. From other linuxes you may need to become root on the commandline first by entering su
    You can THEN use GPARTED to increase the size of the partition on /dev/sdb (typically /dev/sdb1). If however Gparted is still “irritated” and tells you it does not see the new partition properly, you may just reboot your live-linux guest. GPARTED should then be ready for you to increase the size of your NTFS partion.
    I realize this is not a two-liner; but it actually was done as fast as my writing this comment ! I do believe there may be somebody out there whom this helps.
    In any case: Good luck everybody!

  3. admin wrote on 23. October 2009 at 8:27 am o'clock                  

    Thanks for the input.
    When GPARTED says it’s bothered about something, I look for another option. I might give this a try on another system that’s started to become a bit cramped.

  4. Andrew Harkins wrote on 29. January 2010 at 1:37 pm o'clock                  

    This is pretty awesome – thanks!

    Was able to increase an almost-full 20 gig hard drive up to 30 gigs.

    Note – my original VM used PIIX4. I created the new one with PIIX3, but got blue screen of death until I switched the new one to PIIX4.

  5. whynnot wrote on 20. July 2010 at 12:51 pm o'clock                  

    thanks for the great post. worked like a charm on Fedora 13. ran into some out of space issues but Easy Migrate would pause and resume with no problem.

    on PIIX3/4: went with the default PIIX4 and it gave me no problem on VirtualBox 3.1.8_OSE r61349

  6. mattack wrote on 21. July 2010 at 10:03 pm o'clock                  

    Wow, that *was* easy. Thanks a ton. Really.

  7. Doug Simmons wrote on 04. August 2010 at 12:58 pm o'clock                  

    Holy crap. It worked. Thanks!

  8. James wrote on 05. August 2010 at 12:57 am o'clock                  

    Thanks for a great article – went from 5 to 10 and fixed my life!!!

    Thanks agains!

  9. Alex wrote on 17. August 2010 at 2:29 am o'clock                  

    You are my hero! Thanks so much you recovered a couple hours of my life!

  10. Paul wrote on 30. August 2010 at 10:43 am o'clock                  

    Worked perfectly, thanks!

  11. Andrew wrote on 30. August 2010 at 10:11 pm o'clock                  

    Thank you for posting this. Great solution!

  12. Kenny wrote on 01. September 2010 at 12:40 pm o'clock                  

    There is an easier way…

    VBoxManage clonehd Vista.vdi Vista2.vdi –existing

    Above is the CLI commands I used after creating a new machine and referring to it. I had a 20GB vdi (Vista.vdi), created a 30GB (Vista2.vdi) and used the syntax above. When done I just deleted the original.

  13. Fuzzy-Logic wrote on 02. September 2010 at 8:25 pm o'clock                  

    I bow too your awesomeness sir

  14. David wrote on 19. September 2010 at 12:31 pm o'clock                  

    Worked perfectly. Thanks for the post

  15. admin wrote on 05. October 2010 at 12:58 pm o'clock                  

    Thanks for your note. This really is the simplest. I’ll give it a try when I get a chance.
    I just checked my VBox version, and it is pretty old. The command, for my version of VBox (1.5.6), looks like “VBoxManage clonevdi small.vdi big.vdi”
    I really need to upgrade 😉

  16. Sarah wrote on 20. October 2010 at 2:56 pm o'clock                  

    Thank you so much!!! This was really helpful- and most importantly, quick and easy.
    Appreciate it.

  17. John H wrote on 22. October 2010 at 6:55 am o'clock                  

    Thanks for getting this post up the google search results !!

    Worked first time and the suggested tool acronis migrate easy is straightforward.

  18. mitchelllaw wrote on 25. October 2010 at 9:15 am o'clock                  

    Can you explain in more detail how to set the new drive as the primary slave?

  19. Chris wrote on 26. October 2010 at 1:07 pm o'clock                  

    HEY, this ROCKS, and infact I was running VMware images that I migrated to Virtualbox, one VMware image (VMDK) file was too small. Now I KILLED TWO BIRDS, I migrated to larger disk and at the same time to the Virtulbox image file. WOW… AWESOME. Thank you!

    PS. New title how to migrate from VMDK to VirtualBox image files!!!

  20. admin wrote on 09. November 2010 at 3:30 pm o'clock                  

    For Mitchelllaw:
    First keep in mind that we are talking about the older Innotek 1.5x version of VirtualBox in these posts. You can do a lot more with the newer versions.

    That said,
    Start by making a blank VDI disk. Open VirtualBox but don’t start a machine. Hit the File menu item and choose, Virtual Disk Manager. Then click the upper left New icon. Follow the wizard, and make a big new disk. The new disk will show up in the list, and you can OK to get out of the Manager.

    Then, on the main screen highlight your existing Virtual OS (single click), and click Hard Disks, on the right. You’ll see a Primary Master, which should be filled in with your existing OS. Below that is Primary Slave. Put an x in Primary Slave and use the pull down to select the drive you just created.

    You can now boot your OS. The new Primary Slave will be unformatted. Windows XP hardware detection should even come up and say new disk drive found. Now you can fdisk the new drive (diskmgmt.msc in XP) or run a drive copy utility at this point to make it usable.

  21. Jauhersaeed wrote on 21. December 2010 at 9:08 am o'clock                  

    thank you very much i was a great help.

  22. Derek Moore wrote on 31. December 2010 at 3:12 am o'clock                  

    Also worked very well for me, though I used PXIIX4 with Virtual Box 4

  23. James wrote on 08. February 2011 at 10:06 am o'clock                  

    IT WORKS! Thanks for taking the awesome how-to.

  24. rich wrote on 06. March 2011 at 12:31 pm o'clock                  

    Works perfectly – thanks!

  25. Lee Hughes wrote on 16. April 2011 at 11:47 am o'clock                  

    This is the tool for the job:


    that is by far the easiest method!

  26. Danny Roth wrote on 28. April 2011 at 8:40 pm o'clock                  

    That was so cool! I was not expecting this program to work that well. Thanks for the info!

  27. Andrew Cooke wrote on 10. May 2011 at 6:42 am o'clock                  

    Absolutely fantastic. Acronis worked effortlessly. Thank you for a brilliant walk-through.

  28. Pete wrote on 27. July 2011 at 11:26 pm o'clock                  

    These steps are awesome!

  29. alonutta wrote on 08. October 2011 at 2:27 am o'clock                  

    From UserManual.pdf:
    VBoxManage modifyhd
    With the modifyhd command, you can change the characteristics of a disk image after it has been created.
    The –resize option allows you to change the capacity of an existing image; this adjusts the logical size of a virtual disk without affecting the physical size much.3 This currently works only for expanding the capacity of VDI and VHD formats, and only for the dynami- cally allocated variants. For example, if you originally created a 10G disk which is now full, you can use the –resize 15360 command to add 5 GByte more space to the virtual disk without having to create a new image and copy all data from within a virtual machine.

  30. Haymo wrote on 18. October 2011 at 12:29 am o'clock                  

    Had to comment on this…
    Thanks for the excellent and very helpful post!

  31. cyclox wrote on 22. November 2011 at 3:22 pm o'clock                  

    awesome, this worked with no problem. thanks!

  32. Ahmed wrote on 01. December 2011 at 2:52 am o'clock                  

    This worked like a charm 🙂

    I like your statement “I can tell you, from experience, that the PIIX3/4 setting will frustrate you to anger, tears and finally drink.”

  33. juani wrote on 14. May 2012 at 4:09 pm o'clock                  

    That dd thing that Olaf explained also works. So thanks, Olaf!

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